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What You Don’t Know about Laminate Flooring

People are drawn to laminate flooring for several reasons:

  • It costs are about 50% less than hardwood flooring because of it's composition.
  • It easier to clean than hardwood.
  • It is easier to install than hardwood.
  • It is more durable, resisting many minor scratches, routine wear and tear, and exposure to sun better than hardwood does. 

However, in the end, you might end up paying a great deal more for your laminate floor than you would have paid for a hardwood or tile floor.

Hidden Dangers of Laminate Flooring

If you opt for laminate flooring, we recommend you avoid putting it in areas subject to high moisture and flooding, such as a bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, or finished-basement area. If you install laminate flooring in a high-moisture area and it is subsequently damaged by water, many manufacturers will not honor the warranty.

  • Moisture is the enemy of the high-density fiberboard core of laminate flooring. Laminate flooring will buckle and warp when it is exposed to high-moisture areas or standing pools of water.
  • The durable surface coating manufacturers put on laminate flooring, which gives the flooring its ability to resist scratches and dents, resists only light amounts of moisture.
  • If laminate flooring is exposed to high moisture or flooding, the flooring will break down and expand. Because laminate flooring cannot be dried, repaired or refinished, it will have to be replaced, unlike hardwood, which can be properly dried, sanded, and refinished. Laminate flooring simply will not tolerate standing pools of water, and once exposed, it buckles and warps. It can never be repaired. It must be replaced.
  • Even small amounts of moisture – a spilled drink, a pet’s “accident,” wet feet – can seep between the individual pieces of the floor and create moisture problems that you cannot see until the moisture has damaged the floor.
  • Unlike the underlayment used for certian types of tile installation and hardwood flooring, a foam pad is the standard underlayment used between laminate flooring and wood subflooring, and this underlayment does not have a moisture barrier. Even if you use an underlayment with a moisture barrier, hidden moisture can get trapped in this foam pad, hastening the destruction of the flooring and also causing damage to the subflooring and walls of your home.
  • Many homes in Florida are built on concrete slabs, and concrete can typically retain high moisture content, which can cause laminate flooring to buckle and warp even when the best plastic vapor barrier is used. And if the concrete is below grade, the chance of moisture buildup in the concrete is much greater.
  • Moisture from humidity in your home, which you cannot see, can cause laminate flooring to buckle and warp. Unless you have properly acclimated laminate flooring (allowed it to stand in its environment for several days before installation) to the humidity in your home, the floor will respond to the humidity by expanding and then buckling and warping. Remember: you can’t repair laminate flooring. You will have to replace this damaged flooring. 
  • In extremely humid environments laminate flooring is much more likely to show signs of problems response to this humidity and subsequently get infested with mold between the flooring and underlayment. 

Bottom line: if your home is susceptible to moisture, you should not install laminate floors.

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