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Laminate Hardwood Floor Installation Prices
Laminate flooring is a synthetic, layered flooring product that's most commonly made to resemble hardwood, but can also simulate tile, stone, and other materials. Although a laminate floor doesn't contain any solid wood, it is significantly more affordable than hardwood flooring, easy to maintain, and can be used in places that hardwood cannot. Use this free buying guide from Cost Owl to learn about laminate flooring options, benefits, and costs.
Laminate Flooring: How It's Made
Most laminate flooring has four layers:
- A central core made of high-density fiberboard
- A bottom stabilizing layer
- A decorative photographic layer (the part that is actually seen)
- An wear layer consisting of melamine or aluminum oxide
Direct-pressure laminate (DPL) is made by combining these four layers together under intense heat and pressure in a single-step fusing process. Another type of laminate, high-pressure laminate (HPL), is made with a fifth layer of special paper, higher pressure, and a multi-step fusing process.
Laminate Floor Considerations
Keep the following options in mind to find a laminate flooring product that's right for your home:
- DPL vs. HPL: HPL laminate is harder than DPL laminate and is therefore more suitable for very heavy traffic. HPL is more expensive than DPL, however. For most residential applications, DPL laminate is sufficiently durable.
- Abrasion Class Rating: The abrasion class rating, or AC rating, of laminate flooring measures durability. A rating of AC1 denotes that the flooring is appropriate for applications such as bedrooms, while AC5-rated laminates can be used in high-traffic commercial settings. AC2 is fine for areas such as dining and living rooms.
- Appearance: The decorative photographic layer, the most important determinant of laminate flooring appearance, can be made to resemble any wood species. But laminate can also be imprinted with a surface texture for further customization. Laminate surface types include gloss (low, medium, and high), embossed, and distressed (antique).
- Underlayment: Some laminates have a built-in underlayment. Others require that you purchase a separate foam padding that provides cushioning, absorbs sounds, and helps to even out subfloor unevenness. A separate moisture barrier, or an underlayment with a built-in moisture barrier, is required for below grade installations or moisture-prone areas.
- Glued vs. Click Together: Laminate flooring is solid in individual planks. The most popular laminate variety has planks that click together for very quick and easy installation. Glue-together planks are also available. They are more time-consuming to install but generally make for a stronger floor.
It may not be made from solid wood, but laminate flooring more than makes up for that fact with the by offering the following benefits:
- Versatility: Laminates can be installed in almost any areas of the home, including basements. While it's not recommended for areas that regularly have standing water, laminate flooring can be installed in bathrooms if care is taken to limit its exposure to water. It can also be floated (i.e. not nailed or glued down) over a number of subfloor types, including wood and concrete or even an existing linoleum or tile floor.
- Low-Maintenance: Laminate flooring is stain and abrasion resistant. Washing the floors with a damp (not too wet) mop or cloth is usually all that's required to keep them clean. Soap, wax, polish, lacquer, and chemical cleaners are not recommended for laminates. Care should also be taken to not scratch, gouge, dent, or tear laminate floors.
- Cost: The fact that laminates can be purchased and installed for half the cost of hardwoods is perhaps their most attractive feature.
Laminate Laminate Hardwood Flooring Costs
- Thinner, less-durable, less realistic-looking laminate floors can be purchased for as little as $0.75 to $2.00 per square foot. Higher-end laminates, which are thicker, more durable, and more realistic-looking, might cost as much as $2.50 to $5.00 per square foot.
- Laminate underlayment, if not included, may cost an additional $25 to $50 per 100 sq. ft. roll.
- Laminate flooring installation might cost $1 to $3 per square foot.