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What is different about laminate flooring?

From muddy boots after an afternoon hike to bringing home dirt and debris from camping trips out on the Mogollon Rim, your floors see a lot of action. Due to this, you want flooring that can withstand whatever your family and friends bring inside.

After deciding it is time to choose floors for your home, you will quickly come to the realization of the many options you have. How do you decided between carpeting, vinyl flooring, hardwood floors, or laminate flooring?

Understanding the difference between vinyl, laminate, and hardwood can help you choose the flooring surface that fits your family's lifestyle and offers the most comfort for your mountain home.

In a lot of ways, laminate flooring is still a relatively newer flooring option. It was invented in 1977 as a way to use a high-pressure laminate material. Since 1977, laminate flooring has blossomed to one of the most popular home flooring options around the world.

Laminate flooring consists of several layers of material pressed together. The four layers is designed to improve the durability of the flooring and allow it to resist moisture and everyday wear-and-tear. What you will typically find in a piece of laminate flooring:

  • The backing layer. The backing layer of laminate flooring is typically made of melamine, a durable material that provides structure and support and that also helps the flooring resist moisture.

  • The core. The core layer of laminate flooring usually consists of high-density fiberboard, a composite material made from the waste products of wood. In many cases, high-density fiberboard makes up as much as 70 percent of the total weight of a piece of flooring.

  • The decorative surface. On top of the core layer is a decorative layer, which makes the laminate resemble a piece of wood board or, in some cases, stone. Typically, the decorative layer is a photo printed on paper.

  • The wear layer. The final layer, the wear layer, helps to protect the laminate flooring from wear and tear. Without this top layer, the decorative surface would get scuffed and worn out quickly. Usually, the decorative layer is made from melamine and aluminum oxide. It’s clear so that the photo can show through easily.

Types and Styles of Laminate Flooring

When you finally come around to choosing laminate flooring for your Payson, Arizona home, now you get to decided which texture and finishes fit your home the best. Laminate flooring comes in a variety of textures and finishes making it a versatile choice for many Payson homeowners. Laminate flooring can also be sold in both square tiles or long planks and can be either narrow or wide.

The decorative layer of laminate flooring might look like wood or imitate stone. When it comes to the decorative layer, some examples of finish options include:

  • Oak finish

  • Maple finish

  • Cherry finish

  • Pine finish

  • Stone finish

  • Marble finish

  • Teak finish

  • Mahagony finish

  • Walnut finish

  • Ipe finish

  • Tile finish

In addition to different finishes, laminate flooring can have different textures, depending on the effect you want in your home. Some types of flooring are embossed, meaning they have a texture that makes them look and feel more like natural wood. Other types of laminate flooring have a smooth texture or a glossy, high shine surface.

Installing Laminate Flooring

Many people have called laminate flooring a "floating floor." Laminate get's this nickname due to it's ability to be installed over a number of different floor subfloors like vinyl, tile, or hardwood. The only type of existing floor that is not typically used as a subfloor of your laminate is carpet. Carpet can be too soft and won't provide the laminate flooring with the needed support to stay intact.

When installing laminate flooring you will find that it attaches to itself, not to the floor. There are some laminate floors that should be glued together, but most types join together through a tongue and groove joints along the slide of the planks or tiles.

Tongue and groove joinings mean that the planks or tiles of laminate flooring join together without needing to attach to the floor beneath them. Although the attachment is secure, there is still some flexibility, allowing the floorboards to expand and move as needed.

Caring for Laminate Flooring

Another reason that many choose laminate flooring for their Payson home is due to its relatively easy upkeep. Try to avoid using a lot of water to cleaning your laminate floors. Even though the floors are water resistant, you don't ever want to give your floors a soaking with a mop. If you soak the floor in water this means that moisture seeps into the seams between the planks which can cause them to swell or create mold.

Everyday cleaning of your laminate flooring includes a sweep of the floor to remove any dust and debris. You can even use a vacuum on the bare floor setting. If you have something spill on your laminate flooring we recommended wiping up and drying the spill as soon as you can.

Some types of cleaners aren’t meant for use on laminate flooring. For example, oil soap can leave streaks on the surface of laminate flooring, and pine-scented cleaners often leave a residue behind. Vinegar-based products can damage the protective coating on the top of laminate flooring.

To protect the surface of the floor, avoid anything that can scratch it. Put protective pads on the legs of chairs and tables so that they don’t scratch the floor. Keep your pets’ claws and nails trimmed so that they don’t dig into the flooring. If you wear high, spiky heels, try to avoid wearing them inside your house for extended lengths of time. It can be a good idea to get in the habit of putting shoes on only when you’re leaving home.

Pros and Cons of Laminate Flooring

Is laminate flooring the right choice for your mountain home? Here is a quick glance at the pros and cons of laminate flooring.


  • Relatively easy to care for

  • Lots of choices available

  • Installs over most existing floors

  • Tough and durable

  • Real Traditional Look and Feel


  • Not completely waterproof and shouldn’t be used in areas of the house prone to moisture, like a bathroom, kitchen or laundry room

  • Planks and tiles can’t be refinished and need to be replaced if damaged

  • The surface of the floor can feel hard at times when sitting or walking on it

Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring

Weighing the pros and cons of all the different flooring options can be a great tool while measuring what flooring options fits your lifestyle. Laminate flooring at times has been confused with vinyl flooring, even though the two types of flooring materials are very different.

What Is Vinyl Flooring?

Vinyl flooring is made from synthetic materials, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Like laminate flooring, it consists of multiple layers of material. The core layer provides structure and stability and is often made of fiberglass.

On top of the core layer is the print layer, which has a design or pattern printed on it. Like laminate flooring, vinyl flooring can be printed to resemble stone or wood. Its print layer can also be a pattern, such as an intricate floral design or a checkerboard pattern.

The top layer is the wear layer, which is usually made of polyurethane. The wear layer protects the flooring from scratches, dirt and other damage.

In some cases, vinyl flooring also has a cushioned underlayer made of foam. The underlayer helps to make the vinyl floor more comfortable to walk on and as well as quieter.

Vinyl planks might have the most in common with laminate flooring, at least as far as appearance goes. Luxury vinyl planks often imitate the look of natural materials, such as wood or stone. The plank shape of the flooring also helps it to effectively mimic the look of natural materials while still be made from a fully synthetic material.

Vinyl Flooring vs. Laminate Flooring Highlights

Vinyl flooring:

  • Is 100 percent synthetic

  • Is best for areas where there’s a lot of water such as bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens

  • Is easy to clean and care for

  • Comes in sheet, tile or plank form

Laminate flooring:

  • Contains a mixture of natural and synthetic materials

  • Is water resistant, but can be damaged when there’s a lot of moisture, not ideal for high-use bathrooms or laundry rooms

  • Is easy to clean

  • Can be scratched by high heels, pet’s claws or furniture if pads or protection aren’t used

  • Comes in tile or plank form

Laminate vs. Hardwood

For plenty of homeowners, hardwood floors are the dream. Hardwood is known for its natural look and for creating warmth and an inviting feeling in a home. But if many types of laminate flooring effectively imitate the look and feel of hardwood, is there any reason to go for the real deal? It helps to understand the differences between real wood and laminate and the pros and cons of each.

What Is Hardwood Flooring?

Hardwood flooring is made from natural wood, specifically wood species classified as “hard.” Hardwood species grow more slowly and produce a denser material compared to softwood species. The density of hardwoods helps to make flooring made from them more durable than other options. A few examples of hardwood species often used to make floors include:

  • Birch

  • Brazilian Cherry

  • Cherry

  • Maple

  • Oak

  • Walnut

Hardwood flooring comes in a variety of shapes, such as planks, thinner strips and parquet. The wood can be stained and finished to suit a homeowner’s tastes.

While hardwood flooring might not be as damage or water resistant as laminate or vinyl flooring, it can still be relatively easy to clean. You can sweep or vacuum hardwood floors to remove dust and debris. If you want to clean the floors more deeply, your best bet is to use a floor cleaner specifically designed for hardwood.

If part of a hardwood floor becomes damaged, it’s possible to sand that portion down and refinish it to make it look good as new. In the case of laminate flooring, you typically need to replace the entire plank or tile if part of it is damaged.

Laminate Flooring vs. Hardwood Highlights

Hardwood flooring:

  • Is made of solid wood

  • Is prone to water damage and shouldn’t be used in areas where exposure to moisture or water is likely, such as bathrooms and kitchens

  • Can be refinished to reduce the appearance of scratches and dents or to make the floor look like new again

  • Is usually glued or nailed down to the subfloor

  • Comes in multiple forms such as plank or parquet

Laminate flooring:

  • Is made of a combination of natural and synthetic materials

  • Is water resistant

  • Can’t be refinished and needs to be replaced if significantly damaged

  • “Floats” above the subfloor

  • Comes in multiple forms such as tile or planks

Find Your New Flooring At Payson, Arizona's Go To Flooring Design Center

Selecting new flooring is an exciting adventure! We would love to be apart of your flooring journey for your mountain home. Our experienced flooring installers can help you identify the best flooring option for your home and will offer expert installing services so you can have a floor you can truly be proud of.

Contact Mountain Home Interiors today and learn how you can add your desired texture and style flooring to your home!

(928) 474-4660

315 W. Main St.

Payson, AZ 85541

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