What is laminate flooring?

Home Builder with The Flooring Girl

what is laminate flooringLaminate flooring is imitation flooring made to look like real flooring – usually made to look like hardwood, and occasionally meant to look like tile flooring. Laminate floors have come a long way and many actually look quite real. Laminate flooring is made with recycled hardwood, so it’s a “greenish” product, and while it often looks real, it isn’t. On top, it has a digital picture of flooring, covered with a melamine wear layer which gives it scratch protection. Underneath, it has a high density core board to give it strength.  


Laminate flooring is a floating floor, meaning that is it not directly attached to the subfloor underneath. Rather, the pieces of laminate click together and lock into place. They are then secured to the floor at the edges with the base molding so that the laminate floor will stay in place. Underneath the laminate, you install a sound/moisture barrier underlayment both to muffle sound and to prevent the laminate from wearing down by rubbing in the flooring underneath.  


what is laminate flooring - westchester NY

Many customers mistakenly think that laminate is waterproof. Since it’s made with recycled hardwood, it is not waterproof. You can read more about that here: Is laminate flooring waterproof? If you are looking at an area that has a lot of water, moisture or gets humid, it’s best to avoid installing laminate here. Laminate can absorb moisture easily; it’s kind of like a sponge (think about how cardboard absorbs water), and once laminate get wet, it’s permanently ruined.   Laminate flooring is easy to clean, and it is great for customers with asthma or allergies. Cleaning and maintenance are the same as hardwood – just use a regular hardwood cleaner. 

Advantages of laminate flooring over hardwood floors:

  1. laminate floating floor brazilian cherryLaminate flooring generally costs less than hardwood – both the materials and the labor
  2. Laminate floors are more scratch resistant than hardwood, so many prefer this for high traffic areas, or if they are concerned about kids or pets scratching the floor.
  3. Because laminate flooring is a floating floor, it sometimes gives you more flexibility as to where you can install it. Laminate flooring can go on top of tile or concrete floors (if the floor is level), and laminate flooring can be installed below ground level (if there is no moisture issue).
  4. You can install a sound barrier (e.g. cork underlayment) underneath laminate, so it can allow you to install laminate flooring in some apartment buildings that may typically require carpet (note: the same can be done with floating hardwood floors).

Advantages of hardwood flooring over laminates:

  1. laminate flooring barrel oakHardwood flooring is a real product and most customers prefer this as it’s natural
  2. Hardwood flooring improves your home’s value
  3. Solid hardwood flooring will last longer than laminate flooring. Some engineered hardwoods will also last longer than laminate, but this depends on what type/brand you get.
  4. Solid hardwood flooring can be sanded and refinished. So, if you want to restore floors you can. If you want to change the color of the hardwood – either now or years from now, you can. If you have some areas that get water damage (or pet stains), you can usually weave in new hardwood to those sections and sand and refinish the floor and it will look good as new.


Other useful laminate articles:

If you live in Westchester County NY and you are interested in laminate flooring, give The Flooring Girl a call at 914-937-2950. (For out of state customers, please call 914-407-3899.)

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What is laminate flooring? Laminate flooring for Westchester County NY

Comments (26)

Anita Clark
Coldwell Banker Access Realty ~ 478.960.8055 - Warner Robins, GA
Realtor - Homes for Sale in Warner Robins GA

Debbie: Lenn beat me to it...why put laminate in rooms with lots of moisture?!  Enjoyed this insightful post.

Jan 19, 2013 08:02 PM
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond

Debbie, you always provide such valuable information on flooring for the consumer...great post on laminates!

Jan 19, 2013 08:28 PM
Donald Reich
Prudential Centennial - New Rochelle, NY

Excellent artice. I love hardwood floors, but sometimes laminate is a less expensive and more efficient alternative. 

Jan 19, 2013 08:40 PM
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Joe - You are so right.  And, you can always tell when they have been installed by a non professional.

Anita - Thank you so much.  And, yes, that's the #1 mistake.

Ginny - Thank you so much!

Donald - Yes, that's exactly how I feel.

Jan 19, 2013 08:49 PM
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Once on a home inspection I told my client that their laminate flooring was a "floating" flooring.  He looked at me funny, walked out onto it, and acted like he was on a surf board saying, "It doesn't feel floating to me."  Some people are very literal...

Jan 19, 2013 09:00 PM
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Debbie. This is a great example of the thorough and comprehensive knowledge you share with us regurlarly. Well deserved feature.

Jan 19, 2013 09:24 PM
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Jay - LOL...and yes, people do tend to get confused by the term.

Sheila - Thank you so much.  I wrote it on the plane.

Jan 19, 2013 09:27 PM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

Debbie, Grat information on laminate. This isn't my favorite product but it does have its place. I mentioned you in my series Debs that Shine in the Rain this week. You are The Flooring Girl that has made a name for herself in many ways.

Jan 19, 2013 09:33 PM
Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group
Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001 - Gaithersburg, MD
301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA

Great post Debbie. .you always teaching us and I learned today that laminated flooring is not waterproof. .

Jan 19, 2013 10:35 PM
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Debbie, this is good information! I think a lot of people don't know the difference other than they may not like laminate flooring.

Jan 19, 2013 10:42 PM
Janis Borgueta
Key Properties of the Hudson Valley - Newburgh, NY
LIC RE Salesperson

Great info on the definition. I know that my buyers of older homes get so confused with what they see and what they want. This is a good article to help them understand.

Jan 20, 2013 12:49 AM
Les & Sarah Oswald
Realty One Group - Eastvale, CA
Broker, Realtor and Investor

Debbie - great post. Thank you for sharing your abundant knowledge on flooring. Now I know that laminate flooring in kitchen and bathroom is a definite NO.

Jan 20, 2013 01:08 AM
Elite Home Sales Team
Elite Home Sales Team OC - Corona del Mar, CA
A Tenacious and Skilled Real Estate Team

Laminate flooring is a great product that can give the home a warm and luxurious feel

Jan 20, 2013 01:21 AM
Christina Sanchez Hood
Palo Alto, CA
#SiliconValleyHOODS | Inspired Living

Debbie, this is a great post.  So many people get confused with the flooring choices available, discounting one over another because of what they 'think' they know.  Your post is now bookmarked for future reference :)  Thanks and congrats on your feature, it is well-deserved!

Jan 20, 2013 02:33 AM
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Debbie, a great explanation on the difference of laminate vs hardwood. I was going to suggested and see it has been featured...congratulations!

Jan 20, 2013 05:48 AM
Ron Fowler
Fowler Copywriting - Vancouver, WA

Great post, Debbie, I love learning new things and this one taught me a lot :)

Jan 20, 2013 05:50 AM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Debbie, I did not know about the sound value of laminate floors.  Learned something new again :)

Jan 20, 2013 07:11 AM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Debbie - Good information to help home owners decide what type of flooring for them.

Jan 20, 2013 11:32 AM
Frank Castaldini
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Realtor - Homes for Sale in San Francisco
Thanks for the lesson. I guess laminate floors are different than engineered floors or is this the same? Thanks if you can answer this.
Jan 20, 2013 10:17 PM
Paddy Deighan MBA JD PhD
federalfinanciallawgroup.com - Vail, CO
Paddy Deighan J.D. Ph.D

I always thought that laminate was an Italian word for "inexpensive".....lahm-in-AHTEE LOL

Jan 21, 2013 01:52 PM