Laminate flooring is a synthetic flooring made from a layer of printed plastic material bonded to a core layer and covered with a transparent wear layer. It is a low-cost, low-maintenance flooring option that has many applications throughout the home. In bedrooms, which typically see fairly light traffic, laminate flooring can be a frugal way to achieve the look of more expensive natural materials such as hardwood or ceramic tile. It is also a great floor for DIYers, since the planks use a modified "click-lock" tongue-and-groove connection method that is very easy to install.
Advantages of Laminate Flooring for Bedrooms
It is an inexpensive flooring. Plastic laminate is an economical choice for flooring when compared to almost any other flooring material, such as carpet, hardwood, ceramics, and cork. Costs can be as low as $.50 to $2 per square foot, making it more economical than anything other than sheet vinyl flooring.
It effectively mimics more expensive materials. Despite the low cost, laminates can be manufactured to be very similar in appearance to more expensive premium materials such as hardwoods and even stone. While you can tell the difference when walking on it, it can be hard to distinguish laminates from just looking at the flooring.
Laminates are easy to care for. One of the great things about laminates is that they are so easy to keep clean. Laminates are also resistant to dust and small allergen particles. Regular maintenance involves simply keeping the surface free of loose and floating debris by sweeping or vacuuming. By removing small dirt particles, you can help to maintain the integrity of the wear layer that guards the surface of your floor. In more extreme cases, a mild detergent solution or natural vinegar solution can be used to damp-mop the floor. When you do mop, you should go over the entire surface with a dry cloth to remove any excess drips and splashes; this flooring can be damaged if water soaks through seams.
It's easy to install. Laminate flooring typically comes in rigid planks that assemble with a modified tongue-and-groove system sometimes called "click-lock." The flooring is very easy to install, allowing DIYers to save even more money by doing the work themselves.
Design options are almost unlimited. With laminates, you are not restricted by the properties of natural materials. If there is a type of slate that only comes from India, you can have the look in your bedroom for a fraction of the cost of genuine stone. The same is true of exotic species of hardwood flooring, which might cost $20 to $40 dollars per square foot. And unlike natural materials, laminate planks will have a uniformity that is impossible to achieve with natural stone or wood. Because they are machine-manufactured, laminates give your room a look of perfection.
Disadvantages of Laminate Flooring in Bedrooms
Laminate flooring is noisy underfoot. Since laminates are quite rigid and are installed directly on the subfloor, they can be quite loud when walked on. This can be a problem in second story installations, where every footstep can transmit the sound of footsteps to the room below. Any homeowner who has had a child's bedroom directly over the living room knows the potential problem. The best solution is to use padding of some type. Carpets and rugs placed on the laminate flooring will help to insulate the impact of footfalls. If you are doing a fresh installation, then you can install insulating materials beneath the laminate pieces, in the form of sheets of thin resilient foam underlayment. This will not only cut down on impact sounds, but it can also help insulate the floor and make it more comfortable to stand on.
Laminates can be dented or scratched by pet claws. Over time, scratches and dents may occur in your laminate installation. Informal repairs can sometimes be made using a laminate putty repair kit, although these repairs usually remain somewhat visible. Or, individual planks can be removed and replaced with new pieces of matching flooring. But be aware that these floors are not as hard and durable as hardwood or ceramic tile.
Laminate floors are hard. In bedrooms where small children play, or in rooms where there is a risk of falling for older adults, the hardness of laminates can be a drawback. Area rugs over the laminate might be the answer in rooms where you are worried about individuals falling.
This flooring doesn't hold up well under moisture. Although it's rarely a problem in a bedroom, be aware that laminates aren't the best flooring for wet situations. This could be an issue if there is a bathroom adjoining the bedroom. Moisture on laminate floors needs to be mopped up immediately to prevent it from seeping through seams and degrading the core layer.
Sunlight can damage the flooring. UV radiation from sunlight can cause laminate flooring to fade over time. The solution is to use heavy blinds, shades, and curtains to try and block out any excess sunlight that might stream in over the course of the day.
Laminates are sometimes perceived as cheap. When first introduced, laminate flooring was regarded as premium innovation, but laminates are now so common that they may slightly detract from the real estate value of a home, as buyers are more likely to prefer more up-scale flooring materials.
Laminates are not easily recyclable. Unlike hardwoods or ceramic tile, laminates are a synthetic plastic material. There is no effective way to recycle plastic laminates, and when they reach the end of their lifespan, laminate flooring is usually destined for landfills, where it will remain for centuries.
Hazardous chemicals are used in manufacturing. Plastic laminate flooring is a different material than the wood laminate flooring that received heavy publicity a few years ago for the presence of formaldehyde and other chemicals that outgassed into homes.
Plastic laminate flooring does use several potentially dangerous chemicals in its manufacturing process. Formaldehyde, melamine, cyanuric acid, isocyanates, and aluminum oxide are used during the fabrication of this flooring.
Because any residual amounts of these chemicals are largely confined to the core layer that is sealed under the surface wear layer, plastic laminate flooring is actually regarded as a better choice than sheet vinyl or most synthetic carpeting, which readily outgas their chemicals.
Homeowners intently serious about chemical-free building materials will want to either choose another flooring material, such as solid hardwood, or look for laminate flooring advertised as GreenGuard certified or labeled as low VOC.
Laminate flooring is one of the most economical floorings you can install, and it can effectively simulate much more expensive premium flooring materials, such as hardwood. Widely available at big-box home improvement centers, laminate flooring is one of the better choices for DIYers. Laminate is not an environmentally friendly material, however, and in recent years homeowners are beginning to favor newer materials such as luxury vinyl flooring, which has many of the same advantages with fewer drawbacks.