Laminate Flooring Facts & Follies:
A Laminate Floor and Your Kitchen’s Moisture
To use laminate, or not to use laminate… That is the question I get from a lot of customers who are researching their kitchen flooring options.
For a good many, laminate kitchen flooring reminds them of the cheap, peeling, patterned plastic that lined their parents’ kitchen floors when growing up. (I’ll quickly point out that these cheap patterned floors from our childhoods were usually vinyl or linoleum, which look and feel similar to laminate but are created in distinctly different ways!)
In our last blog post on kitchen flooring, I discussed hardwood floors and compared the different types of hardwood flooring options for kitchens (but from a Calgary kitchen renovation perspective since we have some very unique weather and climate considerations to work with!)
In this blog post, I’m going to review the popular, yet unsung hero of hardy kitchen floors: Laminate.
Is Laminate A Good Fit?
One of the first things that people will learn about when researching laminate kitchen flooring is that laminate does not tolerate moisture very well.
In a kitchen, this is understandably a major problem. After all, kitchens are one of the wettest rooms in your home! (Especially if you have kids and/or pets.)
Thing is, almost every flooring option is not very water tolerant (except for sheet vinyl). This means that almost every type of flooring you install will have to be treated for moisture – even tiles. So if you’re concerned about having to treat your laminate flooring for moisture control then you should know that this is an issue you’ll have with most flooring options.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s leap into laminate flooring!
The Little-Known Life of Laminate Kitchen Floors…
Laminate is a popular flooring option for a few reasons:
- Visually appealing
- More affordable than hardwood, luxury vinyl, or tiles
- Dent, stain, and scratch resistant
- Feels nicer under your feet than tiles, concrete, or sheet vinyl
- Comes in a variety of different colours, textures, and surface finishes
But the laminate you put on your floors is only as good as the grade to which it’s made.
There are 5 grades of laminate – listed as AC1 through to AC5 –that are rated according to its “Abrasion Class/Criteria Rating” (or “AC Rating”). This rating is primarily based on the thickness of the laminate’s wear section, with grade 1 being the thinnest.
For example, AC1 would be most appropriate for fairly light traffic areas, such as closets, bedrooms, and storage areas. AC5, on the other hand, is intended for heavy commercial use.
For the average Calgarian’s kitchen, I typically recommend AC3 laminate flooring (rated for heavy residential use). This is the ideal balance of visual appeal and functional durability that will help make sure your new laminate kitchen floors last anywhere between 15-30 years.
Most laminate is made of four layers that are fused together to create a strong, durable material. These four layers are, from surface to backing: • Melamine top layer • High-resolution photo/image layer • Strong, dense core layer • Melamine backing layer
Signed, SEALED, and Delivered – Your Floors
Like I mentioned a bit earlier, almost all kitchen flooring materials have to be treated for moisture. When properly treated, laminate (and other kitchen flooring materials) develop the necessary water resistance to endure the inevitable splashes from cooking pots, drinks, and kitchen sinks.
With laminate floors in particular though, it’s critical to pay special attention to the flooring’s edges. This is the #1 reason why people should really call an experienced kitchen renovator – because an improperly installed laminate floor with a poorly applied sealant is a recipe for disaster.
Underlayment and Your Laminate Floor’s Lifespan
With professional installation, effective moisture sealant (especially in Calgary), and the correct underlayment, laminate kitchen floors can last anywhere between 15–30 years. For some of my clients, this turns them against laminate and they choose a flooring option that has an even longer lifespan.
Yet for others, laminate’s lifespan is not a problem. These are clients who know that their kitchen will most likely be upgraded again sometime in the next 30 years and appreciate the many other benefits that laminate flooring offers.
Something of huge importance that you’ll need to sort out is your laminate floor’s underlayment. Choosing the right underlayment for your kitchen’s laminate floor is just as important as its AC Rating. Some laminates are sold with underlayment already attached, but be sure to check that the attached underlayment is right for your uses.
For example, if the laminate is being installed overtop a concrete floor, then a moisture barrier is the underlayment you’ll have to use. However, if it’s being installed overtop another living area (such as with apartments or in houses with basement suites) then a sound-reducing underlayment would be the more appropriate choice.
Loving That Laminate Look
The versatility, durability, and aesthetic appeal of laminate kitchen floors are three of the biggest factors working in their favour. No matter what your kitchen’s style might be, there’s sure to be a laminate that fits it perfectly. This is why I never shy away from using a top-quality laminate from trusted manufacturers for my clients’ flooring.
But remember – the biggest key to having laminate kitchen floors that look great and last a long time is to have them installed by professionals. You can do it yourself, but years of experience have taught me that a DIY laminate floor installation can too easily go wrong, either right away or a few years down the line.
My team and I are seasoned kitchen renovation specialists who have learned the ins-and-outs of renovating Calgary kitchens the right way. We can help you narrow down the best floor options for you kitchen while answering any questions you may have along the way.
Looking to remodel or totally renovate your kitchen? Then you’re come to the right place! Copper Creek Developments is a Calgary home renovations company that specializes in kitchen renovations. We can take your old kitchen and transform it into a fully functional space where you can cook, eat, and spend quality time with those you most care about. Contact us today!