When does it make sense to install laminate flooring?
As background, I really prefer hardwood flooring over laminate, and most of my Westchester customers have a strong preference for hardwood floors. But, there are some circumstances when laminate flooring is just more practical...from a budget stand point and a usage stand point. Also, everything needs to be put in context of the home - are you living in it or will it be rented? Are you selling the house or staying in it?
1. Laminate flooring is a great trade-up option for rental apartments (rather than carpet). Generally, carpet needs to be replaced between each tenant while laminate flooring will survive through many tenants. And, since more people in Westchester prefer hard surfaces (and some need this for health reasons), it expands your pool of renters and amount you can charge for rent.
2. Laminate floors are practical for busy kitchens - when you are concerned about scratching from kids, pets, chairs. Hardwood scratches while laminate flooring is very scratch resistant - at least when it comes to the normal wear and tear of pets, chairs, heels, running, etc.
3. When you have a concrete subfloor and/or tile on the floor, laminate flooring can provide a more cost effective solution. Laminate flooring can be put on top of these surfaces, while regular solid hardwood requires a plywood subfloor. Engineered hardwood woods can be glued or floated on top of concrete, but laminate flooring will still be less expensive.
4. When short term cost is the main consideration, laminate flooring is a great option. Generally, the material and labor are less expensive for laminate (vs. hardwood). Sometimes you can even place it directly on top of the existing floor without ripping it up (e.g. if it's vinyl or tile and in good condition). And, when you have a concrete subfloor and/or tile on the floor, laminate flooring can provide a more cost effective solution. If you are selling your come, laminate could make sense in some circumstances, especially as a better alternative vs. laminate. (But, please recognize that if you are in an upscale neighborhood, many buyers may look down on this surface - it's best to consult your realtor or stager here).
5. When refinishing your hardwood floors is too inconvenient, laminate provides an alternative solution. If you live in a small apartment that has hardwood throughout most of it, sometimes, the prospect of refinishing your hardwood is just too overwhelming given the amount of furniture/stuff you have. Clearly, refinishing the hardwood will be much expensive that installing new floors, but sometimes customers don't have a place they can stay while this is being done or nowhere to put their furniture, so laminate provides an alternative solution while you are living there. (and it can be removed later when you are selling your home). Note: you could do the same idea with an engineered hardwood or carpet, too.
6. When you need a sound barrier, laminate flooring allows you to add a sound muffler. Here in Westchester, there are many apartments - condos, co-ops and rentals - that "require" that 80% of the floors are covered with carpet. The reason for this is to that muffle the sound for the neighbors below you. However, many customers prefer hard surfaces - either because they like/prefer them or because they need to for health reasons (e.g. allergies, asthma). So, if you add a laminate floor, underneath, you can use a cork underlayment (or other types) that will muffle the sound and achieve the same objective. Please note that this can also be done for an engineered hardwood that is floated on top of the floor.
When to avoid laminate flooring:
1. Places with lots of moisture or water. Laminate does not do well with water as it is made with recycled hardwood and it isn't waterproof. So, if you have a moisture issue, lamnate floors a poor choice. (please read Is laminate flooring waterproof? Believe it or not, in humid locations such as basements, engineered hardwood holds up better than laminate - laminate is like a sponge and will absorb all the moisture. But, if you have a basement with moisture issues, I would avoid both laminate and hardwood.
2. Laminate does not do well when your floors are uneven. Unlike vinyl (which is a flexible surface), laminate is hard and just floats on top of your floor. So if your subfloor underneath is uneven, the laminate floor will move and not be secure. It will noticeably move (and make noises) when you walk on it. If your floor is uneven, you either want to level it out or find a different type of surface that can tolerate the indiscrepancies (e.g. vinyl or carpet).
Related posts on laminate flooring:
- What's the difference between laminate and vinyl flooring?
- 6 reasons laminate flooring has become so popular in Westchester County
When you're looking or laminate flooring in Westchester County (or if you would like to better understand the pros/cons and costs vs. hardwood), give The Flooring Girl a call at 914-937-2950.
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