Taking a deeper look at how laminates are constructed, and how each composition affects performance.
Timeless, beautiful, warm and charming… these are but some of the numerous words used to describe laminate floors. They have the ability to transform the look and feel of any given space, and each year new and innovative trends are unveiled to respond to the needs of the commercial sector.
Laminate floors consist of several layers fused together to form durable boards. The wear-resistant, Aluminium Oxide impregnated, overlay is the transparent sheet over the decorative layer that gives the floor its abrasion and scratch resistance making it durable, with the ability to handle heavy foot traffic, and also making it resistant to chemicals, stains, etc. When purchasing a laminate floor, the overlay and the composite weight are important to take into consideration.
The decorative layer is what gives a laminate floor its aesthetic appeal, enabling it to imitate wood, ceramics and even stone designs. Although this layer primarily serves as a decorative element, some laminates also infuse melamine to make the floor even stronger.
The High Density Fibre (HDF) Board is another important factor to look at when considering a laminate floor’s quality. As the wood the fibre is a ‘living’ material, it expands and contracts depending on the weather conditions. If proper expansion gaps (there should be a 10mm expansion gap at the walls and an expansion joint every 10m, all depending on the manufacturer’s instructions) are not made when the floor is laid, the floor ‘pops’ because it can’t expand out, so it expands up. For this reason, the denser the HDF board, the less it will expand and contract, lowering the likelihood of problems after installation. Several boards come with a moisture-resistant resin infused into them, which should be used in areas more prone to moisture, as this resin lowers the amount of expansion and contraction that takes place in the floor.
The Counter Balance/Stabilising Layer also consists of melamine resin and protects the parts underneath from any damage, adding stability to the floor and decreasing the chances of the floor deforming or ‘bowing’.
One of the key characteristics of laminate flooring, and one kept in mind when it is manufactured, is its ease of installation when compared to other types of flooring. Of the many designs, the glueless variety is considered efficient and mess-free. This enables the laminate floor to be fitted together by means of a tongue-and-groove design, with interlocking elements that slide into each other and made secure as each row is laid down. Some laminate types feature more sophisticated locking systems, designed to be installed and removed again where necessary.
Maintenance is another driving force contributing to laminate’s popularity in the industry. It is specifically manufactured to ensure that it is easy to clean and care for, which transpires in a floor that will last for several years without losing its lustre. It is advised to place a dirt-trapping mat at any entrance, to minimise the particles of dirt that can be transported to the laminate floor. Spills can easily be soaked-up using a sponge or cloth, and it can quickly be cleaned using a micro cloth mop, however, it is advisable to refrain from soap-based detergents as it can dull the surface.
Before considering a specific laminate product, industry experts strongly advise against the temptation to purchase cheaper flooring products, which will invariably diminish a quality buy. An initial “cheaper” purchase may appear cost-effective, but long-term, it will undoubtedly introduce several challenges as the product will not perform to expectation.
Advantages of using Laminate Floors