Basic Construction Of Laminate Flooring
is generally considered an alternative to vinyl flooring, it is a highly durable choice that can be installed over nearly any kind of subflooring; plywood, concrete slab, sheet vinyl , hardwood flooring or virtually any other flat hard surface. The warranties for laminate flooring generally cover wear, staining and fading.
Laminate floors are made up of three basic layers, including a surface layer with a printed design, a core and backing.
The Surface or Top Layer.
Typically the top layer is made of an extremely tough-wearing aluminum oxide. The pattern that you see as you look at the floor is actually that of a printed photograph glued to the clear surface. Many laminate floors look like wood, but it is actually a photograph applied to a melamine laminate. Because nearly anything can be photographed, there are very few limitations. Today's laminate flooring trends are hardwood, stone, brick and ceramic tile.
The Inner Core.
The core board or carrier board is made up of a variety of materials, depending on the manufacturer. Most manufacturers use HDF, or high density fiberboard, which is a durable engineered wood product that resists moisture. Others can have a high-density wood particle core. While the HDF may be slightly more structurally sound, the particle core absorbs glue slightly better at the joints. Both materials, if manufactured by dependable companies, provide a durable, trustworthy core.
The backing board varies depending on who makes the floor, but it ranges from a paper layer to a full plastic laminate layer. Those with a laminate or melamine backing are better against potential water damage than those with paper backings, and the laminate is more stable.
All of these layers are fused by heat and pressure - either by direct-pressure(DPL) or high-density construction(HDL). A direct-pressure laminate is assembled all at once, then heated and pressed to form a bond. High-pressure laminate, involves treating the top and bottom layers separately and then fusing them to the core layer under extreme pressure. HDL is a more recent innovation and is often found in the more expensive premium brands.
Most laminates come in planks 7" to 8" wide and approximately 4' long. In an attempt to mimic mother nature, manufacturers have focused the styling of the product to reflect the shape of the plank and in addition are duplicating various species of wood. Several companies have also tried to imitate natural stones or copy the look of ceramic tiles, including grout lines in some cases. Laminate floors are sold in packages of 15 to 36 S.F. but are typically retailed by square foot pricing.
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