Choosing the best laminate flooring involves considering various factors, including your budget, lifestyle, and aesthetic preferences. Here are some steps to help you make an informed decision:
Determine your budget
Laminate is one of the cheapest types of wood flooring you can buy.
However, we always recommend starting by setting a budget for your overall project and breaking that down into 4 main parts
- Fitting (or tools for DIY)
- Underlay (specific to laminate)
- Finishing touches such as beading
Of course, laminate flooring comes in a wide range of prices, so knowing how much you’re willing to spend will narrow down your options.
Consider your room’s purpose:
Think about the room where you plan to install laminate flooring. From our experience laminate is most often fitted in the kitchen and dining as opposed to bedrooms and lounges.
If this is the case, then you’ll want to consider waterproofing the surface as much as possible.
This can be done in two ways:
- Choosing a more expensive floor that is sealed on top
- Sealing a cheaper floor yourself with a lacquer
If you’re renovating a bedroom, then soundproofing might be more important to you, which means thickness might become an important consideration.
Things like underfloor heating can also affect your buying decision. So, if you have underfloor heating or are planning on fitting it in the same room, this must be taken into consideration because it will affect both the needs of the flooring and a specific underfloor heating underlay
Consider your colour – dark, light or somewhere in between.
Almost always the second step is to determine your choice of colour. You can get many different shades in laminate flooring.
Wide plank flooring can visually expand a room by reducing the number of seams between planks, creating a smoother and more spacious appearance.
Matching the floor with the paint colour of the walls creates a unified appearance and can make the room feel more expansive. Alternatively, going for contrasting colours is often a popular choice because it can give the room more depth.
if you have dark walls, choose a light floor and vice-versa.
Remember though, light-coloured floors, such as light grey, beige, or pale oak, can make a room appear larger and airier.
They reflect more light and create a sense of openness. This is particularly effective in smaller rooms or spaces with limited natural light.
Consider the thickness and core material
Laminate flooring comes in various thicknesses, typically ranging from 6mm to 12mm. Thicker planks are more durable and often feel more substantial underfoot. Thinner options may be suitable for low-traffic areas.
Laminate flooring consists of layers, including a core material. High-density fiberboard (HDF) is a common core material.
HDF with moisture resistance is preferable for rooms prone to spills or humidity.
Look for the right surface texture and finish
Laminate flooring comes in a variety of finishes that mimic the look and feel of different materials. The choice of finish can significantly impact the overall appearance and style of your flooring. Some of the most popular finishes for laminate flooring include:
Smooth Finish: Smooth finishes provide a sleek and polished appearance. They are easy to clean and maintain, making them a popular choice for contemporary and modern interiors.
Embossed Finish: This finish replicates the texture of natural wood grain. It adds depth and dimension to the flooring, creating a more realistic wood look and feel.
Hand-Scraped Finish: Hand-scraped finishes mimic the rustic, worn appearance of hardwood that has been manually scraped and distressed. This finish adds character and charm to a space and is popular in farmhouse and rustic-style interiors.
Wire-Brushed Finish: Wire-brushed finishes feature subtle surface grooves that create a textured, aged appearance. They are a good choice for those looking for a distressed or reclaimed wood look.
High Gloss Finish: High gloss finishes provide a shiny, reflective surface that can make a room feel more elegant and sophisticated. However, they may show scratches and imperfections more easily than matte finishes.
Matte Finish: Matte finishes have a low sheen, giving the flooring a more natural and understated appearance. They are ideal for spaces where you want a subtle and contemporary look.
Hand-Scraped and Distressed Finish: These finishes replicate the look of wood that has been manually distressed, creating an aged and weathered appearance. They are popular in vintage and rustic designs.
Tile or Stone Finish: Laminate flooring can also emulate the appearance of tiles or stone with various textures, patterns, and colors. This is a practical choice for areas where real tiles or stone may be less suitable, such as bedrooms or living rooms.
Registered Embossed Finish: This finish combines the embossed texture with a printed grain pattern that aligns with the texture, creating a more realistic wood or tile appearance.
Wide Plank Finish: Wide plank laminate flooring features wider and longer planks, which can make a room feel more spacious and modern. It is a trendy choice for contemporary homes.
Check the Installation method:
Consider the ease of installation, especially if you’re doing it yourself. Note that it might be more expensive for a professional if the fitting is more complicated. As an example, herringbone styles can take longer and require less margin for error. This makes it harder to fit and even harder for the amateur.
Some laminate floors use click-and-lock systems that are DIY-friendly, while others may require professional installation.
If you are fitting it yourself, give yourself enough time to do the job in one go. It might take a professional one day to fit but you might need 2 days to get it down.
We always recommend starting early in the day and getting as much done as possible in that time frame.
Of course, don’t forget your tea breaks and lunch break
Take Environmental considerations:
If sustainability is important to you, look for laminate flooring with eco-friendly certifications, such as those that use recycled materials or low-VOC (volatile organic compound) finishes.
By considering these factors and conducting thorough research, you can choose the best laminate flooring that suits your needs and preferences while staying within your budget. Remember that proper installation and maintenance also play a significant role in the longevity and performance of your laminate flooring.
Before Making the final decision
Once you’ve created a shortlist for your project, there are a few things to make sure of. Here they are.
Always Check for warranty
Before you make that all-important final descision, be sure to check the manufacturer’s warranty.
A longer warranty period often indicates the manufacturer’s confidence in the product’s durability. Be sure to read the warranty terms and conditions carefully.
Get Samples and swatches:
Always request samples or swatches to see how the laminate flooring looks and feels in your space. This can help you visualise the final result and assess colour and texture in your lighting.
Read reviews and seek recommendations:
Research online reviews and ask for recommendations from friends, family, or professionals who have experience with laminate flooring. Their insights can provide valuable guidance. This includes your laminate underlay because you want to go for a recognised brand rather than an unknown make where you don’t know how long it will last.