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How to Shop for Laminate Floors Online - What to Look For and What to Know

Wed 21 Feb 2007 - 14:40

How to Shop for Laminate Floors Online - What to Look For and What to Know
By Sarah Freeland

With all the different styles, types and fancy terms, how can you tell if you are getting what you want? The following information will assist and inform you, so that you can make a choice based on the facts not just what a salesman tells you.

First, you need to find a color that fits your needs. Get free samples of your flooring so that you can match them up with the other items in your home. If you need a larger board or two to get a better idea as to how it would look, spend the money and get them. A small investment today may save you a lot of time and money later.

Next determine the kind of traffic flow you are going to have. How many people walk on that area of flooring each and everyday? Kids and pets are normally hard on flooring so make sure you choose an AC wear layer that fits. The AC wear layer is how they rate the durability of laminate flooring. Using a piece of 180 grit sandpaper then counting the number of revolutions (cycles) it takes to expose the core of the laminate determines the wear layer. Listed below are the different wear layers available.

* AC 1 - Is for moderate residential (approx: 900 cycles) used in low traffic areas (guest room use for visitor once in awhile).

* AC 2 - Is for general residential (approx: 1800 cycles) for rooms that are used occasional (study or living room that are rarely used). Some of these may offer stain and wear warranties.

* AC 3 - Is for heavy residential or moderate commercial areas (approx: 2400 cycles) excellent for family rooms, game rooms and bedrooms. Most of these may offer stain, wear and fade warranties.

* AC 4 - Is for general commercial areas and extra high traffic area in residential (approx: 4000 cycles) entry ways, kitchens any other residential area where kids and or pets are present. Most of these offer stain, wear and fade warranties.

* AC 5 - Is for heavy commercial areas (approx: 6200 cycles) for your high volume business, normally to rough for residential applications.

Our recommendation is to use an AC 3 or AC 4 wear layer for your residential areas.

Core density is the next attribute you should look at. Core density is the amount of pressure that is applied to the core of the laminate during manufacturing. It is normally measured in KM, and is rated between 500 and 950. Laminate products that have a lower core density act as a sponge when they get wet retaining water. The products that have a higher core density resist water more as the density rises. Most of the high core density products offer some kind of water surface warranty. Some products offer a green core which is said to be even more water resistant.

Sound, echoing and clicking are also affected by the core density. The higher density products reduce that hollow sound that was related with wood flooring. Lower densities will sometime bow and make a clicking sound when you walk across them. With larger room sizes a higher core density will cut down on that echoing sound. Keep in mind that a 9mm product with a 550 km core density has less wood in it than an 8mm product with an 825 km density. Products with higher core densities are much stronger and will last longer. If a products core density is unknown a good test is to snap off a corner of a sample, the higher the density the harder it should be to snap it off.

Our recommendation: Don't get anything under an 800 km core density, the higher the better. If the product you are examining does not offer its core density you should move on to the next. As an installer my self, and I feel this is the most important feature you should look at when purchasing laminate flooring.

The connection is another major criteria you need to consider. There are many different snap together products out there, some tap and some click some use both options on different ends of the product. The tighter the connection the more resistant the product will be to water or dirt entering the seams of the wood. This can cause the wood to bow making the ends stick up. Connections that use a boat tail connection (click system) seem to make a tighter seam. Tap together product sometimes can separate easier through out time. Test your samples by visually checking for an open seam when two pieces are connected. Second, put a small quantity of water on the seam and leave it for 15 minutes. Wipe off any additional water and check to see if the water worked its way in.

Products that have a "V" groove in them will hide seam damage better than the flat seam product. Don't be mislead by flat seam products that have a white line at the connection this is normally the aluminum oxide residue and will wear off.

Our Recommendation is a four sided boat tail connection with a "V" groove that has a seam with no gapping.

Textures and "V" grooves Ð Texture gives the laminate a real wood look, some products use a straight line texture and others use a grain style. Some have no texturing at all. Texture on a board is a personal preference, all though a board with non textured surface does not grip as well. To check the texture on a board hold it up to a light source (window or light) just below your eye level and the texture will reveal itself. Flat surface or with a "v" groove- they both perform equally. The "V" groove gives the flooring more off a real wood look by separating the boards with a 45 degree slant on the sides. Some have the "V" on two sides and others on all four. Flat seams give a clean level floor look and have no brakes making the floor look as one piece. Both floors clean and endure the same; personal preference should be your deciding factor.

Customer service is important when purchasing flooring, a knowledgeable, honest sales person can walk you through most issues.

Warranties will range from 15 to 25 years, some cover stain, wear, fade and surface water damage. Be sure to check the fine print.

Is laminate flooring right for you? Find out more at LaminateFloorsCheap.com - your source for cheap laminate floors, do it yourself floor installation information and professional flooring advice. For more home decor and remodeling options visit the home and garden directory.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Sarah_Freeland

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