Laminate flooring, at one time, competed with natural solid wood flooring for a place in the home. Now, laminate holds its own as an inexpensive, durable, and DIY-friendly flooring available in a vast range of colors and textures. Not all brands of laminate flooring are the same. The best laminate flooring combines thickness, attached underlayment, AC rating, and water resistance with reasonable pricing and easy availability.
Here are the best laminate flooring options for your home.
Pergo TimberCraft + WetProtect Waterproof Anchor
Established Pergo name
Realistic wood look
Limited design selection
No attached underlayment
Pergo invented laminate flooring. In 1977, Swedish company Perstorp brainstormed this novel concept and put it into the first homes three years later. The word Pergo itself became synonymous with laminate flooring. Not content to rest on its laurels, Pergo has been on the move since its inception: changing corporate hands several times, adding factories, and introducing innovative products.
Today's Pergo products have crisp, deep embossing and images and colors with close fidelity to the original material. This is manifested in products like wide laminate planks that look similar to real hardwood planks or tiles that look like travertine, marble, or slate.
Pergo's TimberCraft and TimberCraft Elite are the standout Pergo laminates due to their verisimilitude to real wood in combination with reasonable pricing. Though the TimberCraft core is compressed fiberboard, the flooring is rated as being waterproof and acceptable for steam mopping.
With high-definition imaging and deep embossing, TimberCraft not only looks like real wood but also has twice the number of uniquely imaged boards. This means less of a chance of repetitive patterning. TimberCraft offers 18 styles of wood-look laminate flooring, so you can find the right one to fit your style.
Note that Pergo TimberCraft does not have an attached underlayment. You'll need to roll out your own separate foam or acoustical fiber underlayment. One hundred square feet of foam underlayment costs about $50.
Price at time of publish: $4/square foot
AC Rating: 4 | Warranty: Limited lifetime | Transferable Warranty: No | Thickness: 12mm
LifeProof Greystone Oak 14 mm Laminate Flooring
Durable enough for high traffic areas
14mm thickness only
Waterproof laminate flooring eliminates the one factor that separates traditional laminate flooring from vinyl flooring: laminate's inability to withstand moisture. Lifeproof achieves this by substituting the chipped wood core with a rigid polymeric core.
Lifeproof aims to live up to its name as a tough, scuff-resistant AC-5 laminate that will maintain its structural integrity and will not degrade upon contact with water. This is the laminate flooring to buy for homes with pets and children. Plus, Lifeproof laminate flooring is priced at the lower end of the self-install laminate price range, making this an affordable DIY product.
Advertised as a 14mm-thick floor, Lifeproof's core and top layer equals 12mm thick. The attached underlayment contributes to the additional 2mm.
Price at time of publish: $4/square foot, $47/case
AC Rating: 5 | Warranty: Limited lifetime | Transferable Warranty: No | Thickness: 14mm
LL Flooring Dream Home 12mm Copper Valley Chestnut w/ pad Waterproof Laminate Flooring
Brick-and-mortar flooring stores
Durable enough for high traffic areas
Not all displayed products are in stock
LL Flooring, the brick-and-mortar flooring retailer formerly known as Lumber Liquidators, carries a number of laminate floor brands including Bruce, Builder's Pride, and Aqua Seal. But its predominant laminate flooring brand is the LL Flooring house brand called Dream Home. Dream Home accounts for well over half of LL Flooring's laminate floor offerings.
One of the key advantages of Dream Home laminate flooring is its cost. The thick 12 mm laminate house-brand Dream Home laminate is less expensive than even thinner name-brand products. Another advantage: Since LL Flooring has over 400 brick-and-mortar locations across 47 states, buyers are able to touch and see Dream Home flooring in person.
If you live in an LL Flooring market area, you might often see ads for laminate flooring priced under $1.00 per square foot, even down to $0.79 per square foot. These ultra-cheap laminates tend have a durability rating of AC3 for high-traffic residential use and have no attached underlayment.
LL Flooring will deliver inside the home, too. Its reasonably priced white glove flat rate brings up to 10,000 pounds of laminate flooring stacked in a climate-controlled room for less than $300. That's over 240 boxes of 12 mm laminate flooring.
Price at time of publish: $4/square foot, $57/case
AC Rating: 3 to 4 | Warranty: Limited lifetime | Transferable Warranty: No | Thickness: 7mm to 12mm
Bruce TimberTrue Natural Wood Laminate Flooring
Realistic wood look
Not easily available
Vaguely identified styles
The Bruce flooring name might be familiar to most homeowners since it's been a staple of big-box home improvement chains for years. Bruce is recognized mainly as a maker of wallet-friendly solid hardwood and engineered wood flooring products, not laminates. That's because Bruce has been in and out of the laminate business for a number of years—but it's back.
In 2021, Bruce introduced the TimberTru line of laminate plank flooring. With a pedigree that instills confidence, Bruce is just one brand owned by AHF Products, a holding company that also owns well-respected flooring names like Hartco, LM Flooring, Homerwood, Hearthwood, and Raintree. Competitively priced, from $2.70 to $3.70 per square foot, Bruce TimberTru uses a simple fold-and-lock method of joinery that's very DIY-friendly. The high-definition laminate planks look realistically like wood.
TimberTru's lineup is succinct and easy to understand. Basic Wonders is the lower-cost 8 mm line; Landscape Traditions and Natural World are the 12mm laminates. If you're looking for a specific species of wood—oak, maple, mahogany, walnut—you won't find it with Bruce TimberTru. Bruce's style of naming laminates—shared by Shaw Repel—is to eschew wood species and instead identify by moods or colors, like dark browns, taupes, or whites.
AC Rating: 3 to 4 | Warranty: 50 year | Transferable Warranty: No | Thickness: 8mm and 12mm
Shaw GOLD COAST 7.5 Burleigh Taupe Laminate Flooring
Warranty covers labor as well as materials
Not available for DIY installation
Shaw Industries has its hands in all types of flooring: carpeting, luxury vinyl, hardwood, tile, natural stone, and laminate. With origins dating back to 1946, Shaw is one of the oldest and most venerable names in flooring. Shaw laminates are typically high-end products sold mostly through specialty flooring stores.
Repel is Shaw's waterproof laminate technology that uses the stable, moisture-resistant OptiCore material as its base platform. Shaw warrants OptiCore against all topical spills. Repel's warranty is an insurance policy assuring buyers that Shaw will not only replace the materials but will pay the labor costs within the first two years of original installation, as long as the flooring was professionally installed. Several lines of Shaw laminates offer Repel, including the Gold Coast series.
Available in five styles and colors, Shaw Gold Coast is 12mm thick with an underlayment, and the planks are 7-1/2 inches wide by 50-1/2 inches long. This flooring choice is on the pricey side—Anthem Plus' prices, starting at around $6.60 per square foot, reflect its premium status.
Price at time of publish: $7/square foot
AC Rating: 3 | Warranty: 30 year | Transferable Warranty: No | Thickness: 12mm
What to Look for in Laminate Flooring
AC stands for abrasion coefficient, the laminate's ability to withstand scratches. Abrasion ratings are critical since scratched or worn laminate flooring cannot be sanded and resurfaced. An abrasion rating of AC-3 or greater works in most rooms of most homes. For example:
- AC-1: Light home traffic, for rooms that are rarely used like guest bedrooms
- AC-2: Moderate home traffic, for rooms like bedrooms
- AC-3: Heavy home use, like hallways or kitchens
- AC-4: Extremely heavy residential traffic or light commercial traffic
- AC-5: Heavy commercial traffic
- AC-6: Intense commercial traffic
Look at the thickness of the laminate flooring. Thinner floors under 10mm help you save money, though often at the expense of appearance. Boards 10mm or thicker cost more but tend to look more realistic.
Attached underlayments, increasingly common, help you save some time but the underlayment is relatively thin. Laminate flooring without pre-attached underlayment lets you choose the underlayment—an advantage if you want a thick, sound-dampening cork or felt underlayment.
For whole-house installation, make sure that the laminate flooring has a full range of available matching accessories like quarter-round, stair noses, and floor transitions.
What's the best laminate flooring thickness?
Laminate flooring thickness determines durability, appearance, and price. Thicker boards last longer and feel more solid underfoot. Boards in the 10mm to 14mm thickness range allow for deeper embossing, which gives the flooring a more realistic look. Yet thicker laminate is also more expensive. Most laminate flooring under $3 per square foot will be less than 10mm thick.
What's the difference between waterproof and water resistant laminate flooring?
Waterproof laminate flooring is 100-percent impervious to water. Waterproof laminate boards could be immersed in water and they would still not soak up water. By contrast, water-resistant laminate boards are made of compressed high-density fiberboard. As long as the boards are tightly installed, the flooring resists the passage of water to the water-sensitive wood-based core.
How do you determine laminate flooring quality?
Better quality laminate flooring tends to be thicker: in the 10 to 12mm range. Thicker planks can bridge minor gaps in the subflooring and the tongues are less apt to break off. Better quality laminate flooring also has a thicker topmost clear wear layer. Look for a wear layer in the 12 mil to 20 mil range. Note that "mm" and "mil" are not the same thing. A mil is one-thousandth (1/1,000) of an inch.
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Lee Wallender has over 13 years of experience in researching, reviewing, and writing about home remodeling, improvement, and design. He has over 20 years of hands-on experience in improving homes. He has written for or been cited in People, Forbes Advisor, Huffington Post, Toolmonger, BuzzFeed, ABC News, Chicago Tribune, and Cleveland Plain Dealer.