Laminate floors are made from several layers of wood composite, topped with a photographed image and sealed with a durable finish. These floors can be installed in places, such as a basement, where hardwood floors would be inappropriate. All laminate floors are fairly thin, and the thickness of the flooring should be only a minor consideration.
Your options are limited when it comes to thickness. Most laminate floors are between five-sixteenths and three-eighths of an inch thick, which makes them substantially thinner than solid hardwood flooring. Thicker laminate flooring may hide minor imperfections in the sub-floor better than thin laminate, but either one is appropriate.
The thickness of the laminate flooring is irrelevant if you install a high-quality underlayment. The concrete in basements can absorb moisture from the soil, which in turn, leaches into the laminate, causing the flooring to warp or expand. A vapor barrier must be laid over the concrete, followed by a foam or cork underlayment. Most laminates come with the vapor barrier and underlayment. The underlayment smooths out the flooring surface, hiding minor imperfections, and also cushions the floor so it is more comfortable to walk on.
Because laminate floors are relatively thin, they don't hide major flaws in a concrete floor. Fill holes or uneven areas in the floor with a floor-leveling compound before you install laminate floors. If the floor is severely damaged or uneven, the installation of a plywood sub-floor may be necessary.
Laminate floors were first introduced from Europe in 1994. Since then, numerous American manufacturers have introduced versions of laminate floors. In addition to the thickness of the flooring, consider the warranty offered and reputation of the manufacturer. Some laminate floors are virtually seamless once installed, and offer a fair compromise to wood or tile flooring. Low-quality laminate floors, though, look like cheap impostors.
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