7 Reasons to Love Laminate Flooring

Woman installing laminate floor


Guido Mieth / Getty Images

Here are some of the best features of laminate flooring:

Fastest Installation of Nearly All Types of Flooring

Installing laminate is fast. You can install one room of laminate flooring in one day. 

Laminate is like a puzzle. There is no mixing of grout or mortar, which also means no messy clean-up. It is fast to cut a laminate plank with a light-duty circular saw or even a hand saw.

One of Few Truly Self-Install Floors

Along with luxury vinyl plank flooring, laminate flooring is the easiest floor covering for the do-it-yourselfer to self-install. Even a minimally skilled DIYer can install laminate.

Because laminate is thin and flexible, your subfloor needs to be flat and level before you can lay laminate. Essentially, if the sub-floor is free of imperfections, you can install laminate quickly and with few complications.

You Can Install Laminate Below Grade

Below-grade installation means below ground-level. While it is true that laminate floors are susceptible to moisture—and there are flooring materials that are more appropriate for sub-grade installation—you can install laminate here if accompanied by a vapor barrier.

Do not laminate in highly moisture-prone areas, such as bathrooms that have a shower or bathtub. It can, however, be installed in a powder room or guest bathroom that has only a toilet and sink. You still risk moisture damage in the area of flooring that runs under and around the toilet.

It Disassembles Fast and Easily

NALFA (North American Laminate Flooring Association) is the industry lobby responsible for promoting laminate flooring, and they say that laminate floors are "easy to uninstall and replace quickly and easily when it’s time for a style update."

As it is a floating floor, laminate is not attached to the subfloor, so no laborious scraping of mortar or adhesive. 

After you have removed baseboards and/or shoe molding which hold down the edges of the floor, it is as fast as taking a jigsaw puzzle apart, piece by piece.

Laminate Is Durable

Laminate flooring is often maligned as flimsy. But remember that even the "real stuff" has its own durability problems. 

While solid hardwood flooring is beautiful and long-lasting, it is less dimensionally stable than laminate. In other words, it can warp. Natural stone and ceramic tile can crack. Engineered wood, while more dimensionally stable than solid wood has a thin veneer layer that can wear down a plywood base.

Laminate flooring's thin, transparent wear layer is incredibly strong and scratch-resistant. 

Due to laminate's base of high-density fiberboard, it has more bounce and "give" than hard floor coverings like stone, ceramic, porcelain, or concrete. Drop a glass bottle on laminate flooring and there is a good chance that it will bounce. Drop that bottle on stone or ceramic and you have ten minutes of cleaning ahead of you.

Laminate Is Easy to Clean and Maintain

Laminate, when tightly installed, is smooth and flawless. There are no seams that trap debris. 

The best cleaning method for laminate flooring is by using a fast, simple method, such as a damp cloth or a Swiffer Wet Jet.

Not only are wet mops not needed, they are not recommended, as water can infiltrate through even the thinnest hairline cracks.

Laminate Looks Better Than Ever

In the past, the most devastating criticism leveled at laminate flooring was that it looked fake.

This criticism also happened to be true.

In recent years, though, laminate manufacturers have been developing products with greater surface texture and visual appeal. 

  • More Species: Conventional species like oak, birch, maple, and cherry are still available. But more exotic species, such as teak and mahogany, have come along, as well as variations of those—aged, antiqued, and hand-scraped. 
  • More Sizes: Conventional 3.5"-look laminate is still around, but you can now buy planks in widths up to 7 3/4".
  • Better Surface: Embossing is the manufacturing technique that presses a wood-grain texture into the surface of the laminate. Deeper embossing, available with premium lines, offers more realistic-looking boards.
  • EIR: Embossing In Register (EIR) takes embossing to the next level. Instead of embossing imprinted at random places on the board, it follows the laminate's photographic layer. Where there is a visual representation grain or knots, there is now a corresponding texture. EIR is found mostly in premium lines by floor companies such as Armstrong or Shaw.