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Once installed mainly as a type of economy flooring, Laminate Flooring still firmly holds its place as inexpensive, functional flooring. But they have even moved into higher-end homes that once would have installed nothing but solid hardwood or engineered wood flooring. Laminate floors look better, perform better, and feel better underfoot than ever before. All of this popularity may beg the question: What are laminate floors in the first place?
Basics of Laminate Floors
Laminate floors are a hybrid floor covering consisting of a particleboard wood base topped by an image layer and a transparent wear layer. Laminate floors are a popular type of floor covering for homes' living areas, kitchens, dining areas, bedrooms, hallways, and other areas that are not subject to excessive moisture. HDF Laminate Flooring was invented in 1977 by the Swedish company Perstorp. This firm landed on the idea of using up waste wood projects by subjecting those products to intensely high pressure, heat, and binding chemicals, then turning the result into usable floor coverings. Since that time, many other manufacturers such as Dupont, Mannington, Armstrong, and Shaw now make laminate floors.
Laminate Floor Materials
Laminate floors are sometimes called laminate wood floors, though they are wood only in two respects. First, the laminate floor base consists of pressed chipped wood particles. Second, the top has the appearance of real wood due to the accurate image layer—essentially a well-rendered photograph of wood encased in a clear, durable wear layer.
Aggregated wood particles are subjected to high pressure to form sheets. These sheets have a photorealistic image of wood or stone added to the top, and this image is covered with a wear layer. The wear layer, a durable, thin, clear plastic sheet, is the linchpin between the delicate lower layers and exterior elements such as moisture, UV rays, and scratching.
Wear Layer: MDF Laminate Flooring is a surface layer of two thin sheets of paper impregnated with melamine. This top-most surface layer is a hard transparent type of plastic sheet that is impervious to dogs, chairs, high heels, and other common damaging elements.
Image Layer: Even when viewed close-up laminate flooring can look realistic. This is due to the laminate's photographic-quality image of real wood underneath the wear layer.
Base Layer (Core): Under the wood-grain photograph is about a half-inch of wood-chip composite. Any type of wood chip product is inherently susceptible to water damage. Laminate flooring's base is considered to be dimensionally stable, but only to a certain degree. It will stand up against some water, but only if this water is quickly removed.