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What is laminate?

What is laminate?

Laminate is a wood-based smooth floor designed to imitate a real wooden floor. Originally created as a cheaper alternative to natural wood, laminate is now one of the most popular flooring types because of its durability, ease of fitting, and low maintenance, not to mention being a very eco-friendly choice. Classic and versatile, laminate comes in range of gorgeous wood or ceramic tile designs, with some styles featuring detailed embossing so you can feel the wood grain and every knot. So, if you’re thinking of investing in a genuine wood floor, let us tell you why a laminate floor is the better option.

How is laminate made?
 

Laminate flooring is usually made up of different layers pressed together. Each plank starts with a high-definition photograph or print of the wood or ceramic tile printed on high-quality paper. The design layer is then covered by a clear coating that protects the floor underneath from scuffs, stains, and fading, as well as general everyday wear and tear. These are placed on top of the inner core – a solid, thick layer made from either MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) or HDF (High Density Fibreboard) – which is where the plank gets its strength from. The sheet of laminate is then cut into planks and is ready to go!

What are the benefits of laminate?

There are so many benefits to choosing a laminate floor, and when going head-to-head with a real wooden floor, laminate will always come out on top. Here are just a few reasons why laminate is a great choice for your home:

  • Sustainable All our laminate flooring is FSC certified and comes from sustainably managed forests, and a new tree is planted for every tree cut, making it an eco-friendly flooring choice
  • Hygienic The anti-bacterial top coat is perfect if you’ve got small children crawling around on the floor
  • Affordable Laminate is much cheaper than real wood and cheaper to fit (and can be even cheaper if you install it yourself!)
  • Durable The wood-based core combined with the overall thickness makes laminate a super strong floor that’s sure to last years and years, whilst the protection layer provides scratch-resistance to keep it looking flawless
  • Versatile It can be fitted in any room and works with underfloor heating
  • Easy to fit The click and lock system of laminate flooring planks makes it incredibly easy to install a laminate floor. Even you (yes, you!) could do it…
  • Low maintenance Just a quick sweep, vacuum, and a swish with a damp mop now and again is all a laminate floor needs to stay in good condition
  • UV resistant Thanks to its UV protection layer, laminate won’t fade as quickly in sunlight like a real wooden floor will
  • Realistic designs The photographic layer is in such high definition that it really does an excellent job of imitating a hardwood floor

Which room is best for laminate?
 

The beauty of laminate is that it looks good everywhere! Because it’s warm and comfortable underfoot, laminate is perfect for bedroom flooring, and thanks to its stain-resistance and easy clean surface, it’s a popular choice if you’re looking for dining room and kitchen laminate flooring. As laminate is a wood-based floor, it's not the best choice for bathrooms, utility rooms, or entrances because the planks can warp and blister when they come into contact with moisture. That said, if your heart’s set on bathroom laminate flooring, we’ve got a range of water-resistant laminate with a bit of extra splash protection.

  • Tapi Top Tip Check the room suitability icons on each product page to find out where in your home that particular style of laminate can be used.

There’s also plenty of choice when it comes to laminate designs. Wood effect laminate is a timeless look that will never go out of fashion, and many styles have four bevelled edges to mimic real wooden planks. Our chevron and herringbone effect laminate flooring are popular designs as they look very striking and they’re so much easier to lay than the real wood alternative! The spectrum of laminate colours ranges from white or grey wood laminate flooring for a fresh, Scandi vibe, to dark wood laminate for a sleek, modern finish. Distressed laminate, with all its unique quirks, is ideal if you want to bring a vintage or rustic feel to a room – we even have tile effect laminate flooring that looks exactly like aged ceramic tiles. Our collection of oak laminate flooring comes in a variety of tones, including light, natural, stained, weathered, and dark; some are smooth to the touch, whilst others have registered embossing for a more realistic texture.

How do you clean laminate?

One of the best things about laminate is that it’s so easy to care for! Sweep with a soft brush or vacuum as normal to ensure your flooring is free from dust and dirt. Never use a wet mop or steam cleaner on laminate! Instead, wipe up any potential spills right away and spot clean with a damp cloth if you need to, taking care around the joins as this is where water damage could occur. To prevent scratches ruining your gorgeous new floor, it’s a good idea to have an entrance mat and to pop pads on the feet of chairs and tables. For more laminate cleaning tips, take a look at our care guide.

How much does it cost to install laminate?
 

How much laminate flooring costs to install depends on many different things: the size of the room(s), the type of laminate, the type of underlay, the location it will be fitted, and which accessories you choose. We sell a wide range of laminate flooring at different price points to suit every budget. Our cheapest laminate flooring prices average around £11.99 per m2, while our top of the range, all-singing, all-dancing, luxury embossed and water-resistant laminate is around £32.99 per m2. Remember, you’ll also need include the cost of laminate underlay, which ranges from £4 to £7 per m2, as well as other accessories such as edging strips or scotia and door bars.

So, let’s do some maths! Based on a 4x4m room and a mid-range £17.99 laminate, the cost of a laminate floor would be around £450 (including underlay, beading/scotia, door bar, etc) plus £195 to fit, so the total cost comes to just under £650. There might be some extra costs involved if your subfloor needs a little TLC. Our flooring experts will be able to talk you through all the costs involved for buying and installing laminate flooring when you visit us in-store or book a home visit, but there's also a handy laminate flooring cost calculator on all our laminate product pages to give you an estimate of how much your floor will cost (excluding fitting).

How do you fit laminate?

Laminate, like click LVT, is a type of flooring you can fit at home yourself. However, different styles of laminate often have various ways of fitting together, so you should always check the manufacturer’s instructions before you begin. Some might need two people to fit; others you can lay without any help. Preparation is key to the performance of your new laminate, so take up your old flooring and make sure your subfloor is dry, smooth, level, and free from debris. You might also need to add a damp proof membrane, depending on your type of subfloor. Our guide on how to prepare your subfloor will tell you exactly what you need to do.

  • Tapi Top Tip It’s important to leave your laminate flooring in unopened packs in the room it’s due to be fitted in for at least 48 hours beforehand, so the laminate can acclimatise to its new surroundings.

All laminate uses some type of click installation and is classed as a floating floor, which means that it needs underlay. The underlay acts as a shock absorber and adds comfort whilst also helping to reduce sound and provide extra insulation. When fitting a floating floor, you also need to leave up to a 1cm expansion gap between the floor and the wall around the perimeter of the room and into doorways, to allow it to expand when the temperature in the room is higher. As laminate flooring is wood based, you’ll need tools to cut the planks down to size, namely a jigsaw, mitre saw or a panel saw, and a drill with a flat wood bit to make holes in the boards to fit them around radiator pipes. You’ll also need to wear a mask and goggles for safety when cutting laminate.

  • Tapi Top Tip We always add on 10% wastage when calculating your laminate flooring to allow for any measuring errors and to leave you with some spare boards in case you need to replace them later. Make sure you use laminate from a single batch for each installation, as there might be slight variations in colour from different production runs.

Position the first line of laminate planks with the ‘tongue’ side along the wall and use spacers to ensure the correct expansion gap at the edge. Slot the short ends together then fix them into place as per the manufacturer’s instructions. For the last plank of the row, measure the distance from the previous plank to the wall. Mark this on a new plank, use a saw to trim off the excess, then complete the row with the shorter plank. Start the next row with the offcut (if it’s no shorter than 30cm) so the plank joins are staggered across the entire floor.

  • Tapi Top Tip Measure ahead! The last row of boards will need to be at least 10cm wide, so you might need to trim the boards along your first row.

If you’re reading this and thinking that fitting laminate flooring yourself sounds like a lot of effort, we can help! We can arrange fitting for you when you place an order - just ask your friendly Tapi flooring expert in-store for details of all the fitting services we offer.

What’s the difference between laminate and LVT?
 

Wondering what the difference is between LVT (or luxury vinyl tiles) and laminate? You’re not the only one! They’re quite similar in that they’re both smooth floors, they both use the click and lock method of installation, and they both look like a real wooden or stone floor. However, there are a few differences to bear in mind:

Laminate

  • Wood-based
  • Eco-friendly
  • Thicker
  • Moisture-resistant (although some styles are water-resistant)
  • Wood or ceramic tile designs

LVT

  • PVC or SPC (Stone Polymer Composite)-based
  • Thinner
  • Water-resistant
  • Wood or stone designs

If you're still unsure whether laminate is the right choice for your home, pop into one of our stores where are flooring experts are on hand to offer you no-oligation advice.

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