When I began writing about home renovations, I routinely dismissed laminate flooring
as being too fake, in terms of looks and feel. Early iterations of laminate flooring were laughably unreal. They were hollow under foot, they looked nothing like wood, and they swelled up at the first drop of water.
Yet times change and so do laminate flooring brands. Now, you'll find laminate flooring in better homes.
We spoke to Jacob Martin at Floors to Your Home about trends developing mainly in laminate flooring and engineered flooring.
Trend #1: Piano Finish
One big trend is a high gloss shine for laminate flooring called "piano finish." In this process, the manufacturer buffs down the aluminum oxide finish to give it a smooth glossy finish.
Trend #2: The State of Hardwood Flooring
Not good. Solid hardwood is considered an upper tier item: when you've got the dough, you'll buy solid hardwood. Otherwise, the most cost-effective product is laminate. Industry-wide, sales in 2008 of laminate flooring (by square footage) fell by around 10%; for hardwood flooring, it's 13.1%.
Trend #3: Laminate Flooring Species
Is the species spurious? Yes, but in this case, species for laminate flooring is looking more and more like the real thing. Brazilian Cherry is one perennially popular laminate flooring species. A species from Brazil called tigerwood is also making inroads in the laminate market, states Martin.
Trend #4: Waterproof Laminate Flooring
Water is laminate flooring's big Achilles heel. Mannington's iCORE is one example of waterproof laminate flooring emerging on the market; Foresta another example. Foresta is made of PVC and has air cushions to eliminate that famed "hollow feeling" you get when you walk across it. But how does it look? Martin says that one popular type of waterproof laminate flooring, Mannington iCORE, looks great.
Trend #5: Handscraped Laminate Flooring
Real handscraped flooring is rarely found anywhere but in historic homes. But replica handscraped laminate is becoming more popular all the time. Some hand-scraped laminate products on the market look barely like handscraped--"like tiny ocean waves," as Martin puts it--but there is a Mannington product with deeper incisions more closely resemble a real handscraped wood surface.