Laminate flooring is a hybrid. It looks uncannily like hardwood
or stone but it's not. Yet it's not vinyl tiling and it's not engineered flooring.
Yet--it's a little of all of those things.
Some people love laminate flooring because it's easy to install--you can install several hundred square feet in a weekend. It's easy to clean, too.
Other people hate it because, well, it's not real wood (more on that topic later!)
Laminate flooring is often known by its brand name, Pergo. Yet there are plenty of other manufacturers: Dupont, Mannington, Armstrong.
See a pattern here? Laminate flooring is mainly manufactured by companies that make synthetic floor coverings.
Laminate Flooring is Not Real Wood
Put your face right up to laminate flooring--looks like real wood, doesn't it? Use a magnifying glass. Amazing! That's because laminate flooring is a surface layer of two thin sheets of paper impregnated with melamine. This surface layer is a photograph of wood grain, not real wood, and is usually covered by a hard transparent layer impervious to dogs, chairs, high heels, you name it.
Laminate Flooring is a Photograph of Wood
Under the wood-grain photograph is about a half-inch of wood-chip composite. So, sure--it's wood. In theory. And herein lie both the strong and weak points of laminate flooring. The strong point is that you can replicate practically anything on this Earth through a photograph, even the most costly Italian marble. The weak point is that it is fake. Fake $500 per square foot marble is still fake
Laminate Comes in Snap-On or Glue-On Options
Laminate flooring planks, depending on the type you buy, are either snapped together or glued together. The "snap-together" kind is easier to install but not as structurally sound as the "glue-together" type. Also, the "glue-together" type resists moisture better.
Also, it's a floating floor
. This means it doesn't have the difficult nail-down installation issues of hardwood