Originally introduced as a cost-effective alternative to real wood flooring and floor tiles, laminate has come a long way. Easy to clean and maintain, with the most up-to-date designs almost indistinguishable from real materials, but for a fraction of the price, it's easy to see just why laminate flooring is so popular.
Best of all, laying laminate is a simple task that can be undertaken by a competent DIYer. But before you get started, follow our guide to laminate flooring to ensure you choose the best option for your home.
- Would rather have the real thing? Check out our guide to how to choose the best wood flooring
- Cosy carpet more your style? We've got you covered to with our tips for choosing a carpet
How much does laminate flooring cost?
Laminate flooring can cost as little as £6m² for the most basic 6mm thick planks from an online flooring dealer, or a high-street DIY warehouse. If you’re going for a better quality option, usually 8mm to 12mm, look at paying around £20m².
As a general rule, when it comes to laminate, you get what you pay for. Laminates at the budget end of the market are often too smooth, too shiny and unrealistic-looking. Cheaper options also have a tendency to peel, warp and stain because of the sub-standard materials used to make them.
More expensive options feature realistic grain finishes, embossing and bevelled edges to achieve a more authentic look. Good-quality laminates are durable, stain, scratch and moisture-resistant, while still being more cost-effective than solid wood options.
Another factor that impacts on the cost of laminate flooring is the warranty. Usually, the more you pay, the more confidence the manufacturer has in the product and the longer the warranty will be.
Can laminate flooring be laid over underfloor heating?
Most laminates are appropriate for use with underfloor heating, but make sure this is specified by the manufacturer to avoid damage or inefficiency before you buy. It's also important to ensure you have the right underlay.
Where can you lay laminate flooring?
If you are decorating a bathroom, ensure that your laminate has a waterproof core and is correctly laid and sealed to prevent rot and mould. Thicker laminates can be deployed in high traffic areas such as hallways and landings.
If you are planning on putting heavy furniture on top of your laminate floor, consult a contractor and invest in the right underlay to prevent damage.
How durable is laminate flooring?
An AC rating is an important factor to consider when you’re deciding which laminate to use in a room and is used to tell how durable a product is.
AC1 is the lowest rating, specifically for use in low traffic areas, where as AC5 is heavy duty and usually recommended for commercial use.
How to lay laminate flooring
It is possible to DIY-fit laminate flooring yourself, as manufacturers have developed simple, stress-free interlocking systems so that laminate flooring is quick and convenient to lay. If you're a keen DIYer who's up to the challenge, use our guide to laying laminate floor as a basis.
That said, if you’re looking for a quality finish you might want to employ a professional fitter, especially if you are installing in a bathroom where the work may be more technical.
The National Institute of Carpet and Floorlayers is a good place to start. It also pays to ask the dealer that you bought your floor from as they often keep the details of recommended fitters in the area. Fitters will often offer their own warranty on top of the manufacturers warranty.
How to clean a laminate floor
Your laminate floor's manufacturer should give you aftercare instructions and may recommend a particular cleaning product. If not, there are lots available in supermarkets and DIY stores. Take a look at our guide to the best wooden flooring cleaning products – there are a couple of brilliant multi-surface options included.
Bare in mind the following tips when cleaning a laminate floor:
- Small particles can easily cause scratches, so sweep regularly with a soft broom.
- Any spills should be wiped up immediately with a damp cloth, make sure to dry off any residue.
- Never use a mop that’s soaking wet as moisture can go through into the floor and ruin it.
- Do not use abrasive scourers, and avoid dragging furniture across the floor.