Hardwood often feels like the end-all-be-all of durable and beautiful flooring. But countless luxury homes share a secret… laminate flooring. High-quality laminate flooring is almost indistinguishable from costly materials like solid hardwood or natural stone.
Many people assume that, like vinyl flooring, laminate flooring is primarily made of plastic. However, the main “ingredient” in constructing laminate flooring is particle board.
This layer of composite wood offers stability but is far from attractive. To turn this material into laminate flooring, the surface of the particleboard is printed with an image (of wood grain, stone, or another pattern) and then coated with a protective layer.
So if you’re looking to makeover your own flooring, it’s time to give laminate a chance! Here are 19 types of laminate flooring you can consider for your home.
- Embossed in Register
- Direct Pressure
- High Pressure
- Tongue and Groove
- Built-In Underlayment
19 Types of Laminate Flooring to Give Your Home A Luxury Feel
One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is to assume all types of laminate flooring are the same. In reality, there are many types of laminate flooring to choose from. And each type can help transform your home’s interior in its own unique way.
From overall appearance to the installation method, here are the different types of laminate flooring available for your next design project.
Perhaps the moment’s most popular type of laminate flooring is based on the look and texture of real hardwood. Laminate wood flooring typically comes in planks that mimic the look of a traditionally installed hardwood floor.
This type of laminate flooring can be made to look like any type of wood in existence — without the hefty price tag. Along with being more affordable than real hardwood, laminate wood flooring may be more durable (in some applications).
Just like laminate can be formed to look like hardwood planks, this material can also be used to replicate ceramic tiles. Each tile’s surface is printed with an image. So you can easily recreate the look of natural stone, porcelain, or even mosaic tiles.
One of the biggest advantages of laminate tile flooring (aside from the affordable price, of course!) is the underfoot feel. While real tile is extremely hard, laminate tile offers a very slight give that makes walking across it more comfortable.
Plus, it’s nowhere near as cold or slippery as traditional tile.
Ceramic-inspired laminate tiles aren’t the only option available. Laminate tile that looks like marble, granite, and other luxury stones is becoming increasingly popular in contemporary home design.
High-quality laminate tile can be almost impossible to tell from the real thing by appearance alone! Opting for laminate flooring eliminates the need for special care and maintenance often required by expensive stone tiles.
And, again, you won’t need to worry about your tile floor becoming icy cold or ultra-slippery.
The laminate flooring design process involves more than just printing an image. It also means deciding on the right texture to complete the overall look.
Smooth laminate flooring doesn’t have the same multidimensional finish as other types. But many homeowners choose to install smooth laminate because it is so easy to keep clean.
Textured laminate flooring is exactly what it sounds like! This type of flooring is etched with a subtle pattern to better replicate the look and feel of the material it’s trying to imitate.
Most textured laminate flooring is made using a layer of polymers placed over the printed image. The textured surface does not match up with the image below.
3. Embossed in Register
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For the most authentic texture possible, embossed in register (EIR) laminate flooring is the best option available. EIR laminate flooring features a texture that matches the printed wood grain or stone pattern underneath.
While the difference between textured and EIR laminate is subtle, many homeowners feel that the extra cost is a worthy investment.
Until recently, hand scraping was a technique reserved for solid or engineered hardwood floors. But this technique is now also applied to some laminate wood flooring.
Hand scraping gives the floor’s surface a naturally worn and aged appearance. This style of laminate flooring is ideal for anyone looking to replicate vintage hardwood floors in their home’s living areas.
Matte laminate flooring mimics the look of non-polished wood or tile. This finish often hides dirt and minor wear better than glossier flooring materials. It can also be more resistant to slipperiness if it gets wet.
Gloss laminate flooring is essentially the opposite of matte flooring. This finish replicates the luxurious look of freshly polished hardwood or stone tile. While gloss laminate flooring is just as durable as its matte counterpart, it is more likely to show minor scuffs and become slippery when wet.
Ultimately, choosing between a matte or gloss finish (or something in between) comes down to personal preference.
Despite the protective layer present in all types of laminate flooring, this material isn’t recommended for moisture-prone living spaces. If you want to install laminate flooring in a bathroom, mudroom, or similar area, then it’s important to invest in waterproof laminate.
Note that water-resistant laminate is not truly waterproof. While water-resistant laminate flooring is ideal for households containing children or pets (or for anyone wanting a little extra protection against moisture damage), it is not recommended for a room like a bathroom.
Square-edged laminate flooring produces a completely smooth surface when installed. Each plank is perfectly flat from edge to edge.
Beveled laminate flooring features a small groove along each edge. These grooves create narrow gaps between each plank, replicating the look of old hardwood flooring.
Many homeowners opt for beveled laminate flooring because they enjoy the authentic look. But keep in mind that this type of laminate can harbor dirt and grime.
Pressed-edge laminate is a great alternative to beveled planks. While the edge of each plank does slope down slightly, it is not as dramatic as a true bevel.
This type of laminate flooring offers a multidimensional surface more akin to real wood without the potential issues of beveled-edge flooring.
1. Direct Pressure
Direct Pressure Laminate (DPL) is manufactured by bonding all of the flooring layers — e.g., particleboard, printed image, protective layer, etc. — together in one step. This manufacturing method is faster and allows for the finished flooring to be sold at a more affordable price.
2. High Pressure
High-Pressure Laminate (HPL) splits the manufacturing process into multiple bonding stages for even greater durability. Because of the extra time and materials involved in creating HPL flooring, this product costs more than DPL flooring.
1. Tongue and Groove
Tongue and groove laminate flooring features special edges that interlock with each other to keep each panel securely in place. Solid hardwood and engineered flooring are often installed using this method as well.
Tongue and groove flooring is generally more DIY-friendly than other installation methods. It doesn’t require any special tools and can be done relatively quickly (there’s also no need to wait for an adhesive to dry).
However, tongue and groove planks that are not installed correctly can leave unsightly gaps in the floor.
Installing glued-down laminate flooring typically means gluing each piece to the subfloor as well as all adjacent pieces. This type of laminate may look similar to tongue and groove flooring but will not lock together on its own.
Proper installation is a must and can require quite a bit of patience and working with messy adhesive. Compared to tongue and groove flooring, glued-down laminate is less likely to shift or develop gaps.
Pre-glued laminate flooring does away with the mess and stress of applying a separate adhesive to each plank. As the name implies, this type of laminate is sold with a strong adhesive pre-applied. Most pre-glued laminate flooring is activated with moisture before installation.
While the long-term durability does not vary much from traditional glue-down flooring, this type of laminate can eliminate the potential for user error.
4. Built-In Underlayment
Underlayment is a layer installed underneath the floor to aid in insulation, noise reduction, and better adhere the main flooring material to the subfloor. Laminate flooring with built-in underlayment eliminates the need for a separate layer, streamlining the installation process as a whole.
Laminate flooring is much more than many homeowners make it out to be. Whether you’re trying to recreate the look of luxury marble tile or solid hardwood, laminate flooring is up for the challenge (without the extravagant price!).
Getting the most out of your new laminate means understanding how this material varies from other popular flooring solutions. Laminate flooring might look like wood or stone but it requires much different care.
Investing in high-quality laminate that will hold up to your household’s lifestyle will ensure your floor looks great for years to come!
Do you have experience with laminate flooring? Have any tips or tricks for those thinking of investing in this versatile flooring solution? Share your thoughts in the comments!