The development of laminate flooring in the past 20 years has been extensive. Many people still imagine laminate floors as the stereo-typical beech 3 strip, plastic looking floors they were when they first became popular. Most laminate floors today are so realistic, it is often very difficult to distinguish between them and the real thing. There are 100s of different styles and decors to choose from, many more than in any other kind of wood flooring.
One of the biggest benefits of a laminate floor in comparison to a solid or engineered floor is its durability. A laminate board is constructed of high density fibreboard and coated with a layer of melamine resin, giving an ultra strong surface. It is very hard to dent, resistant to stiletto heel marks, and most laminate floors are scratch resistant. In addition, spills can be very easily wiped up and the surface is stain resistant.
For times when spills can't be quickly and efficiently wiped up, developments within the laminate flooring manufacturing process are here to help.
Many of our ranges now come with "hydra seal" technology, creating a waterproof surface to the floor for the times when accidental spillages can't be cleaned up straight away.
Engineered Wood Flooring
Engineered wood flooring is the most widespread type of wood flooring used across the globe. It brings nearly all of the benefits of a solid wood floor, without the drawbacks. It is for this reason the wood flooring industry as a whole is moving away from solid flooring products and towards engineered wood flooring. An engineered board is typically between 14-20mm thick and is made up of a number of layers; a 4-6mm wear layer of solid wood on the surface, then a central core of softwood layer at right angles to one another, and finally a plywood balancing layer. This unique structure is the key to the stability of an engineered floor, having different layers laid at opposing angles to each other enables the floor to expand in a uniform way and eliminates the slight gapping which can occur with a solid floor. It also enables nearly all engineered floors to be laid over underfloor heating systems.
In regards to installation, engineered floors can be fully bonded to the sub-floor, although it is regular practice for them to be laid as a floating floor on an underlay. Depending on the manufacturer, the boards will either be glued together on the tongue and groove, or joined together using a self-locking system.
The most common species of wood used for flooring is Oak. This can be rustic, the most common grading, with lots of knotting and grain variation, or prime grade, with a much cleaner, plainer grain pattern. The choices in appearance don't stop there. There are many different stains available, the edges of the boards can be square flush cut, or as is proving to be ever more popular, the edges can have a slight bevel to them which helps define each board more clearly. The surface of the floor can be sanded (completely smooth), brushed (to show the texture of the grain), or even distressed (to give an aged appearance).
There is also three main types of finish;
Lacquered - Very hard wearing, maintenance free, gives the best protection against spillages.
Natural Oiled - Natural matt appearance, will need re-oiling at times, scruffs/scratches can re-oiled to hide them.
UV Oiled - More hard wearing than a natural oil, no need to re-oil, not as shiny as a lacquer.
Whatever finish you choose, an engineered floor adds a touch of natural elegance to your home.