Laminate flooring reproduces the look of more expensive wood or stone flooring, but costs much less. Laminate flooring has a fiberboard core with a photographic layer on top, and is covered on top and bottom by a layer of plastic. It comes in long planks that snap together and is easy to install yourself. Laminate flooring resists stains and fading better than wood, but because it is an imitation, it doesn't add value to your home like natural wood or stone. Laminate floors are durable and wear well, but they cannot be refinished and must be replaced when damaged. Because it has a fiberboard core, large spills can damage a laminate floor. For another choice that looks like wood but costs less, reviews recommend engineered wood flooring (*est. $5 to $10 per sq. ft.) which has a thicker veneer that can be sanded and refinished one to three times.
Consumer Reports makes specific recommendations for brands of laminate flooring. The New York Times reports on the improvements made in laminates, including a more lifelike sound underfoot. We found good general advice on the websites of home-improvement columnists Tim Carter and James Dulley, and from Better Homes & Gardens. Lowes.com offers a helpful buying guide geared toward educating customers.
Consumer Reports gives general information on laminate flooring, as well as recommending actual brands. You must be a subscriber to view the ratings.
Review: Flooring: Green Gets Better, Editors of Consumer Reports, Aug. 2008
2. The New York Times
The New York Times notes that the latest laminate floorings offer improvements in appearance, ease of installation and even sound underfoot. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by The New York Times Co., but the two are independent editorially.)
Review: Under Your Feet, The Floor Show, Jay Romano, Aug. 6, 2008
Nationally syndicated newspaper columnist Tim Carter explains laminate flooring in response to readers' questions. Discussions on other types of flooring are also available.
Review: Flooring, Tim Carter
This retailer website discusses the basics of laminate and other types of flooring. It is well-organized with lots of illustrations.
Review: What Type of Flooring is Right for Me?, Editors of Lowes.com
5. Better Homes & Gardens
This guide describes the basic types of flooring including laminates. Information about selecting and caring for floors is included, along with data about flooring costs.
Review: A Guide to Flooring, Editors of Better Homes and Gardens
6. Which? Online
Which? is a British publication that's similar to Consumer Reports. This report covers laminate flooring and compares it to engineered wood and real wood. Most reports at this site are only available to subscribers, but you can read this section for free.
Review: How to buy wood flooring, Editors of Which?, Mar. 20, 2008
7. Better Homes & Gardens
This brief report offers suggestions for high-traffic areas in your home, offering pros and cons for many types of flooring, including laminate flooring.
Review: Flooring Ideas for Problem Spots, Editors of Better Homes and Gardens
This website directs readers to manufacturers, but it also has plenty of useful information about various flooring types, including laminate.
Review: Flooring, Editors of SeeMyDesign.com
This website has a useful database with information on just about every type of flooring. A number of articles about laminate flooring are included.
Review: Flooring, Editors of FlooringGuide.com