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Types of Laminate Floors

Today, there are several different types of laminate floors to choose from, as well as different shapes, thicknesses and installation locking systems. What they all have in common is they must be floated over the subfloor and have a print layer to give a realistic appearance of a real natural floor material. Laminate floors can be installed on all grade levels and over fully-cured concrete slabs, wood subfloors and some types of existing hard surfaces floors.

Basic Types of Laminate Floor Construction

High Pressure Laminate (HPL) - planks are usually fused together in either a one or two step process. Several layers are first glued together and then these layers are combined with the remaining materials and than glued and fused into a plank. This gives a harder finish, more durable plank than DPL.

Direct Pressure Laminate (DPL) - all materials are fused together in one step which rediuces the costs of manufacturering.

Laminate Floor Thickness - laminate floors come in various thinkness from around 7-8 mm to 12 mm thick. The thicker planks will be slightly more costly but should be more sturdy and durable, especially if the subfloor is not perfectly level.

Laminate Floor Locking Systems

Depending on the manufacturer you will find several different types of locking systems for installing the planks together. There are mechanical locking systems (reinforced from underneath by an aluminum, mechanical locking system), specially designed tongue & groove fiber core locking systems and a few tongue & groove pre-glued systems as well. By far the most popular are the specially designed tongue & groove locking systems that are part of the middle fiber core of each plank. These floors are often referred to as: glueless laminate floors. Most of these glueless floors are snapped together by holding the plank at a 45 degree angle and pressing the tongue into the groove of the other plank.

Laminate Floor Styles

Laminate floor styles have improved dramatically over the past few years. The print layers have become much better and more realistic looking. Also, some manufacturers have added what is called "embossed in register", which means the plank's surface has the realistic graining and textures found in natural flooring products. Some laminate wood planks now have micro-beveled edges giving the look of many hardwood floors. Obviously, the more realism and more rich design styles will cost more than the lesser grades.

Laminate floor designs are offered in wood planks designs, ceramic tile designs and natural stone & slate patterns. The tile patterns are usually in squares, although some are offered in long rectangular planks. The patterns will repeat every 3-4 planks in the box. So be sure to lay the planks out and do some dry laying to view the design before actual installation.

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