Laminate Flooring Buyers Guide: What to Know Before You Buy Wood Floors
- Andrew Uhacz
Best Alternative to Hardwood Flooring
When weighing the options on flooring choices, no doubt one key thing you look for is durability. Laminate flooring is one of the best choices in this category, though it’s also made to help you save money if considering real hardwood or stone.
Thanks to modern technologies and materials, laminate flooring creates faux hardwood and stone that looks like the real thing. Experts are often amazed at how much certain laminate floor brands mimic the look of wood convincingly.
Much of this depends on the product you buy. Armstrong has become a world leader in providing a durable laminate floor with four specific layers. They’re one of the fifteen things to look for when buying laminate flooring.
Commercial Laminate vs Residential
Because of the extreme durability of laminate flooring, it’s ideal for either commercial or residential areas. Depending on what your business is, you may have considerable foot traffic that’s already worn out a previous floor. If it was real hardwood or stone, no doubt it’s a major eyesore now in its appearance.
The strong durability for commercial businesses comes in Armstrong’s four distinct layers mentioned above. It starts with a wear layer called VisionGuard®. This is an example of how Armstrong creates specialized features using trademarked names to distinguish the company from competitors.
Their second layer is a design layer utilizing clear visuals to give the realistic appearance of natural stone and hardwood.
Then you have HydraCore Plus as the floor’s inner core. It adds extra toughness, including bringing moisture resistance and sound absorption.
Backing is the fourth layer as a way to keep the floor from warping if it ever gets wet.
These layers have more information about them we’ll show you later. What’s important to know is that these features also cross over to use in residential properties.
When working on a budget for your home, you don’t want to spend multiple hundreds of dollars on real wood or stone. The upkeep involved with these natural floors is tremendous as outlined by the National Wood Flooring Association.
As you can see on their website, maintaining real wood floors requires daily sweeping and dusting as just starters. You’ll also need to apply a maintenance coat to the floor’s surface every few years. After a few decades, it’s going to require sanding and refinishing if not a complete replacement.
It’s no different with stone floors. Keeping them clean is a real problem, and it often means having to hire a professional cleaning service to keep them fully maintained.
Laminate flooring from Armstrong does require cleaning, though not nearly as often. Being faux wood and stone, you’re simply not going to have as much maintenance involved while ultimately holding up for decades.
Your only challenge now is deciding if you should use laminate in your home or your business.
Determining the Size You Need
Laminate flooring comes in numerous sizes, making it possible to use in all standard rooms and large spaces.
Many of these sizes center in on whether you’re buying a commercial or residential product.
Under the commercial banner, Armstrong’s laminate flooring comes in nine different sizes. It doesn’t stop there, though, because you can also get varied lengths, with thirteen different collections offering this.
At Floor City, we make it easy for you to find the size you need. The most prominent size available in our inventory is 5.31”x47.44”. Many people find this the most suitable size for most commercial rooms.
Our second most available size is 4.92”x47.76”. Other sizes include 4.92”x47.83”, 7.59”x47.83”, and 7.60”x54.17”.
Products like Old Original Barn Gray from Armstrong’s Architectural Remnants collection offer the more varied sizes for unique-shaped environments. These varying widths include 3.54”, 5.59”, and 7.64”x47.83.”
For Armstrong’s residential laminate flooring, it’s very similar, with nine specific sizes. Two different products here offer varying lengths, but the most prominent ones are 15.94”x47.76”, and 4.92”x47.76”. The former can give you a substantially large size to cover big rooms if you’re re-flooring a roomier house.
Other prominent sizes available for residential include 5”x47-13/16”, and 6.26”x54.44”.
Whatever size you need, our friendly staff at Floor City is always happy to help you find what your home or business needs to avoid making mistakes.
Finding the Right Thickness Level
Don’t overlook the thickness level of your laminate floor. It’s going to determine how well it holds up over time, depending on the floor traffic you receive.
Just because you use laminate flooring in your home doesn’t mean you maybe don’t receive more foot traffic than most businesses do. However, most businesses that deal with customers every day are obviously going to experience wear and tear quickly.
As mentioned above, Armstrong’s VisionGuard wear layer is a big part of bringing a durable thickness that holds up to almost anything. It creates a hardened surface able to withstand scratching, spills, stains, fading, and scrapes. This also helps in the cleaning aspect during maintenance.
Impact resistance is also strong here, which prevents any potential denting. If you have heavy furniture on your laminate flooring, you don’t want to worry about unsightly dents when moving things around.
The most common thickness layer in Armstrong’s laminate collection is 0.47”. Although some are at 12mm, giving you major protection.
Keep in mind the wear layer on Armstrong flooring is also designed to help control sound. Those of you who own a retail store or other businesses where major crowds are a possibility will appreciate having a floor capable of deflecting loud sounds.
Of course, this can help just as much in industrial settings where machinery is going at all hours.
For your home, sound absorption is something to consider strongly if you hold loud parties often, or have a household full of loud children.
One thing you’ll notice about Armstrong flooring (and most floor brands) is they frequently offer unlimited residential warranties. This makes sense considering most homes don’t have the foot traffic typical businesses have.
Even so, commercial warranties from Armstrong are generous considering how much use you’ll put into your laminate floor. They offer a 10-year commercial warranty on a few of their laminate products.
It doesn’t stop there, though, on the differing warranties available. Some of Armstrong’s laminate products offer 50-year warranties when applied as a residential wear warranty.
Other collections give you a 30-year warranty, particularly the Coastal Living Collection. A 20-year residential warranty is available for the collection known as Timeless Naturals.
Some things not covered by these warranties include accidents, abuse, or misuse. Also, damage from your vacuum cleaner won’t be covered, nor pet urine you didn’t clean up on your own.
Take a look at Armstrong’s laminate warranties guide to learn more about these details.
Adhesive & Accessories
Installation is fairly easy for all of Armstrong’s laminate floors. Many of them use adhesives that are simple enough to apply on your own.
Other collections use Armstrong’s patented Lock&Fold Technology, allowing even faster installation. All you have to do in this case is insert one end of a plank into the other. Then you fold it into place without glue or nails being necessary.
Trims and moldings are also available to create a finished look to your floor. You can acquire everything from T molding to multi-purpose reducers and thresholds.
As for adhesives, you’ll need to use specific types to make sure they hold long-term. Armstrong provides a useful FAQ about how to properly apply adhesives and the tools required.
You should use a notched trowel to apply the adhesives they recommend. Before you apply the adhesive, you’ll want to read the adhesive label to find out about proper notching. Notch size is important here to avoid applying too much adhesive, hence leading to a botched installation.
An essential thing to remember here is the adhesive needs to be dry to the touch before installation occurs. The more adhesive you apply, the longer the open time is for it to dry before you can install your floor.
Armstrong typically sells their own brands of adhesives to make applications more successful. Even so, you still need to follow room temperature directions.
Average Price Per Square Foot
Through Floor City, you can expect to pay under $4 for most commercial-grade laminate flooring from Armstrong. Residential laminate flooring goes for under $4 as well. The two most popular products under the residential banner have a price of only $3.52 per ft.
The price you pay for your laminate flooring all goes on where you buy it. If you turn to the big box stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s, you’ll usually end up paying 20% more than you’ll find through online stores.
So what will you find online that’s any better? You’ll find a lot of online flooring stores claiming they have the best discounts. Few to any give you the savings you can find through our site, Floor City.
While costs of laminate vary depending on the type and finish you purchase, it often goes above $4 per square foot nowadays, or more.
At stores like Home Depot, expect to pay toward the upper end, even for mid-range materials.
It’s just a small example of how we can save you money, especially if you were planning to use real hardwood or stone. Did you know buying real hardwood today costs anywhere from $5 to $8 per square foot? Being able to buy a laminate floor for half the price and still fooling experts is one of the best things you can do in designing or re-designing your home.
For many of our first-time customers, we offer an additional discount to show you how serious we are about superior customer service.
Properly Cleaning Your Laminate Floor
Maintenance is inevitable with all types of floors, but proper cleaning is half the battle.
Like many other floors, cleaning regularly is something you’ll have to do regularly to keep it looking pristine. Cleaning methods are at least fairly straightforward, other than taking the time to get it done.
Armstrong features a video on their website from cleaning expert Melissa Maker on how to properly clean laminate floors.
The first step is to use a microfiber or terry cloth mop for general cleaning. It’s recommended you use Armstrong’s own floor cleaner designed for laminate floors.
Sweeping and vacuuming regularly are also a major part of proper cleaning. Still, avoid using the beater bar on your vacuum. These cause damage, so always use your wand attachment.
For best cleaning results, it’s best to apply a spray cleaning solution directly to the bottom of a mop. You’ll be able to clean general dirt and stains this way.
Keep in mind that if you don’t have time to clean, you’ll have to look at other options to prevent dirt buildup. Your best bet here is to buy a Roomba. These are easy to program and work reliably as automated cleaning when you’re away from home for long periods.
Busy business owners like you could also find benefits using a Roomba during overnight hours to save money on janitorial services.
Using Commercial Laminate in Your Home
Just because you see the designation of “commercial” on Armstrong’s laminate flooring doesn’t mean you can’t use it in a home.
Commercial and residential can really be interchangeable when it all hinges on how much floor traffic you receive.
Your home may get more floor traffic than the normal household. For instance, you may have a lot of kids that walk over, run, or play on your laminate floor every day. Or, you may entertain often in your home with busy business parties. With dozens of people walking over your laminate floor in the kitchen area, you’ll see wear a lot quicker.
Since many residential warranties mentioned above are for life, your business may want to consider a residential laminate floor product instead. If you don’t think you’ll receive quite as much floor traffic in your business, having a lifetime warranty is perhaps better suited.
Likewise, using a commercial-grade laminate floor in your home can give you a 10, 20, or 30-year warranty to help you get repairs done sooner than later.
Our team at Floor City is there to help you make the right decision. We recommend you estimate how much floor traffic you think you’ll receive in a year to make the best flooring choice.
Finding the Right Shade, Style and Color
Armstrong laminate flooring has a wide variety to choose from and you can find up to ten different colors with many of their laminate floor collections. Determining the right species of wood; dark, light or medium shade or installation type can be a challenge. That why our laminate flooring experts are continuing to provide free resources to learn about the right choice for your space. If you need additional help, send us a message or call customer service.
Keep in mind the majority of products use gray and brown to give the real look of hardwood or stone. It’s not to say you can’t find numerous other colors to help match your interior design.
Some other popular and widely available colors beyond brown and gray include tan, dark-brown, beige, and copper.
You can also find standard colors like black, blue, and white. Red-brown is also very popular to give a variation on the darker shades of hardwood.
It’s important to remember, though, that colors don’t always translate well when you’re looking at them online. Go to a showroom if you can to see these colors with your own eyes. This way, you can decide whether the color is really appropriate for your home or business.
If you can’t make it to a showroom, we’ll help you choose a color here at Floor City. We’ve put up a color disclaimer on our site to help you understand why color choice needs careful consideration.
As a result, we offer free samples we mail out to you in one day. This convenient method is even better than a showroom because you’ll have a tangible sample to place in a room to quickly decide your color matchup.
Once you decide the color is just right, we’ll ship out the entire floor. In cases where it’s not, we’ll keep sending free samples until you find the right one.
Since you’re probably going for the realistic look of hardwood and stone, the darker colors will give you a true, rustic feel to a business or residence. We’re there to help you realize this dream to avoid wasting time.
Why You Should Use Underlayment
Do you need to use underlayment for laminate flooring installation? The answer is usually, yes! You may need to use some underlayment on your subfloor before using laminate flooring. It all depends on if you have cracks or other flaws in your subfloor before installation takes place.
It pays to do a careful analysis of your subfloor by a professional to see if underlayment is needed.
Armstrong offers their own brand of patches, primers, and underlayment for all their floors. They come in bottles or roll tubes for a simple application.
The additive comes in a quart or gallon size bottle. However, the rolls are designed specifically for sound control. In fact, Armstrong calls these underlayment products Quiet Comfort to prove how much you can control sound.
While the wear layer will absorb sound, the underlayment will add more if you have too many annoying sounds within your business or living space. Also, underlayment brings more comfort when people walk on your floor. At home, you want to walk on your kitchen or bathroom floor in your socks, slippers, or bare feet without it feeling uncomfortable.
Thickness level on Armstrong’s underlayment is .075 inches, giving you full protection and a supreme comfort level. It even has a polyethylene film moisture barrier to keep water from leaking through.
The Eco-Friendliness of Your Laminate Floor
No doubt most of you want to live a green footprint when it comes to materials you place in your business or home. Flooring requires this same consideration.
Armstrong’s laminate flooring definitely adheres to this, as do all their flooring products. They also have a long history when it comes to bringing sustainability practices with their floors.
Over 100 years ago, Armstrong began this by taking waste from cork production and recycling it as a major component in their linoleum flooring products.
It doesn’t just stop with linoleum, though. Their laminate and other floors use a particular sustainability practice they’ve used for many years. It all centers on more efficient consumption of energy and water during manufacturing.
The company’s original goal was to reduce energy, greenhouses gases, and water by 10% by 2015. Fortunately, they more than met their goals three years ago. Part of this comes in their manufacturing plans maintaining an Environmental Management System.
Thanks to their attention to eco-friendliness, Armstrong has won numerous recognitions and awards for their efforts. Most recently, they won the 2018 GreenStep International Award for sustainability procedures used in their Australian plant.
Many of their environmentally friendly products are specific for certain floors, yet all of these practices go toward the production of laminate. Thanks to a commercial floor recycling program, you can eventually recycle your laminate floor in a way that saves money and reduces environmental impact.
Even Armstrong’s I-Set Installation System allows for green practices when applying adhesives.
You’ve seen how eco-friendly Armstrong is in their laminate flooring and other products. Now you should look at their environmental certifications to see just how far ranging their green principles are.
One of those is their FloorScore, which is always an important component to how green a product really is. Armstrong provides various .pdf files to detail these certifications for complete transparency.
According to their data sheet, Armstrong was FloorScore certified from September 1 of 2017 until August 31, 2018 as certified by SCS Global Services. They’ve undoubtedly reacquired this certification since the validity date passed.
Another certification is one from the Forest Stewardship Council, given by the Rain Forest Alliance. It certifies that Armstrong keeps a strong commitment to the environment and local communities. The RFA certification makes sure companies like Armstrong support responsible forestry practices during flooring production.
In addition to these certifications, Armstrong provides details about their green practices through their Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). These help you select the best laminate flooring product, provide more complete product overviews, and give life cycle assessments. You’ll also get a better picture of the environmental impact your laminate floor has.
Armstrong Product Declarations go even further in providing details on environmental impact, product ingredients, and performance attributes. These also adhere to LEED® V4 material credits.
Find the Best Customer Service
We’ve already explained why buying your laminate flooring in a big box store isn’t a good idea if you need to save money. We also want to expand on the customer service aspect and finding a quality team to help you understand your purchase.
When looking for laminate flooring, always consider the knowledge level of those running the flooring company. Unfortunately, many employees who work at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and even Walmart aren’t always experts. They can’t always give you the knowledge you need to make a smarter buying decision.
You’re better off going to an independent flooring company where you’ll at least find those who know what they’re talking about. At Floor City, we guarantee our employees are true flooring experts you can talk to when needed.
Any questions you have about your laminate flooring are thoroughly answered without long waits. Despite most of our business being done online and by phone, it doesn’t take away from our attention to top-tier customer service through our chat portal.
We’re also available to call for questions so you can talk to a real human being. Working with us helps you make an educated decision on whether laminate flooring is truly your best bet.
Just as important is we make returns, exchanges, and refunds simple without complication. You’ll also receive an immediate quote so you can decide whether laminate flooring fits your budget.
Thanks to our Flooring Ideas page, we also help get your creative juices flowing on what floor would work best for specific rooms. Our staff will know whether your space is truly suitable for laminate if it’s already on your short list.
Study Customer Comments
Before you buy your laminate floor, take some time to look at customer comments on our site and throughout the net.
Taking time to read reviews is the best way to get a wide-ranging view of how people feel about different flooring products. Just as we all do with Yelp to gauge opinion about restaurants and other businesses, always do your homework on the floor you buy.
Of course, you should also read carefully on how the customer was treated when buying their floor.
When you read our reviews, our customer service is usually mentioned first. However, the quality of the flooring is also something to pay attention to. Almost all our reviews mention the reliable brands we carry.
This is why we carry Armstrong laminate flooring and all other top brands.
It pays to look at reviews on competing sites as well so you can educate yourself on how customers are treated at other flooring stores. The best way for you to learn about our own superior customer service is to compare it to the reviews from our competitors.
Self-education is just as important as a knowledgeable flooring team educating you. When you put all the pieces together, you’ll end up having a more meaningful buying experience.
Your parents or grandparents clearly didn’t have the internet to turn to in the older days of buying floors. Ironically, many floors (like laminate) have been around for multiple generations, yet only accessible in those days by buying in person.
Find an Easy Buying Process
Once you’ve decided laminate flooring is the best way for you to obtain the look of hardwood or stone, it’s time to place your order.
Buying through big box stores may not always mean obtaining your floor immediately. If they need to do a backorder, it could take days or weeks before you receive your floor.
Some online stores are the same way. Being forced to wait on your order can become very frustrating when you have a contractor waiting to install your floor in a new home you’re building.
Similar frustrations may occur when your business has a limited time window.
Clearly, no one wants to wait any more than one day to receive the floor they ordered. It’s why we’ve upped the ante at Floor City and put together a fast shipping process.
We’ll never be out of stock and be able to ship your laminate floor out the same day. Simply call us at (800) 898-9540 to place your order.
Those of you who live in other states can easily get your floor through our pickup centers located nationwide. We have these in about every U.S. state, making it easy to do business with anyone.
With these above things to know about laminate flooring, we hope you’ve learned a lot and made a good final decision. Remember, we’re available for any questions, so feel free to ask us if you still need more information.
- Tags: Laminate