There is no escaping the fact times are hard – however people are still on the move and homes are selling. One of the most important, probably the most important feature of your home is the floor, it will be the first thing the potential buyer, guests or visitors will see when they come in to your home.
So to increase the change of selling your home or just make a grander entrance – improve the floor in your home – but how can you do that on a budget?
Laminate flooring, with is glueless installation helps many consumers solve that problem, today laminate flooring in the correct format, single plank, 10mm thick, beveled, hand scraped, etc is indistinguishable from real hardwood flooring but for a fraction of the cost. Take into account that installation cost on hardwood is $2-$5SF and you can do laminate flooring yourself the savings just keep adding up.
So the decision is made, laminate flooring it is, you will install it yourself and save a small fortune, and when complete it will look like a million dollars.
Now you go online to start the research process, you are probably even reading this article, if you are a complete novice here are the different quality levels of laminate flooring:
The Worst: 6mm thick, paper backing, particle board core and smooth finish, this will look ugly and as it is a 6mm product the boards will bow, installation will be very hard and I would hate to say it but probably come with a 10-15year warranty but will fall apart in 3 years, this will cost $0.69SF – stay away.
The Better: 7mm thick melamine backed (not paper backed as above) slight ticking finish on the surface, HDF core (not particle board again as above). This is a good product, number one selling in all the Home Centers, it is perfect, but it will look like laminate however is inexpensive and will cost from $0.75SF (online) to $1.99SF in stores.
The Best: 10mm/12mm thick (does not matter), HDF core, melamine backed, installation will be a snap as the thickness will create the structure for simple install. This should also come with a one plank look and beveled edges – it will look exactly the same as hardwood flooring, once down no-one would could tell the difference. However your bank account will notice the difference over hardwood, this premium laminate will cost from $1.29SF (online) to $3.95 for the same Pergo product. If you find this product for $1.29SF from a European manufacturer and it is 10mm, beveled and hand scraped – BUY IT!
Now that you understand the differences in quality – this is probably the most important piece of advice and we see the consequences of this almost daily. The issue of where the product is made, it’s origin of manufacture. In 1998 there was just1 Chinese laminate flooring factory today there are over 40 – it is shocking. The risk is there is no recourse on the warranty – how do you get the Chinese to fix the faulty product? Many USA retailers, especially wholesalers or online companies that sell the Chinese laminate, due to current economic hard times are going out of business. Who do you then call about your damaged flooring.
So here is the scenario – you bought the laminate from ‘ABCXYZ Laminate’ due to economic hard times they close the doors, you bought ‘Chau Ling’ laminate from them with a lifetime warranty – your floor gets water damage, or worse in the doorway wears through the planks – the manufacturer did not finish the surface correctly all was fine for a few months, even a year and then you have a problem.
Who do you go to now on the warranty? You cannot go back to the retailer, as they are no longer there, how do you find the Chinese factory – basically you know where you are and it sucks – you may have to replace the entire floor.
I cannot say this plain enough – buy from a company that has a USA corporation, not a retailer selling their product, but a Manufacturer with a USA identity – or at the very least a European Company – at least we have reciprocal agreements and understanding.
So when you see that 12mm (or 12.3mm) Chinese laminate Gingerwood, Wenge, Maple and it is beveled, random planks and looks perfect and it costs just $1.39SF with a lifetime warranty, you are actually just buying a laminate flooring with a 6-12 months warranty, maybe.
So it is a simple choice really – go with the 7mm for a great affordable product or spend a little more and get a hardwood (laminate) flooring that is 10mm thick for $1.29SF, from a reputable manufacturer with a USA corporation – even better made in the USA.