Laminate flooring is simple to install and looks wonderful. It requires nearly the same care as hardwood flooring yet is often more affordable — and it’s much easier to fix if one of the planks becomes damaged. The smooth, sleek look of a laminate floor works in most settings and can be installed quickly, and once it’s in, proper care helps keep it looking beautiful for years.


Laminate should not be installed on top of existing flooring, so whether you have carpet, older laminate, hardwood, tile, or another type of floor, you’ll have to have that layer removed before installing the new laminate. All furniture needs to be moved out of the room, too, and any other renovations, such as painting, need to be completed before the laminate is installed. The subfloor also needs to be tested for moisture and dried out if necessary, before covering up the area with the new laminate planks.

One particular issue that you and the installers need to pay attention to is plank direction. Make sure the planks of the laminate run parallel to the longest wall in the room. Having them run in another direction can make the room seem smaller. Don’t worry about fitting the laminate around obstacles like islands or odd corners; the installers can handle those easily.

Maintaining Laminate Flooring

Most laminate flooring should not come into contact with water. While there are laminate planks engineered to be more water resistant and suitable for use in kitchens and bathrooms, you should treat laminate as not water resistant unless you know specifically that the resistant variety has been installed. You can still clean up stains and spills with a damp cloth, but don’t wipe laminate with a soggy mop. Don’t use soap, either, as both soap and water will contribute to floor warping. For certain stains, use acetone on the stain and follow up with a damp (but not dripping) cloth to remove the acetone; for deeper cleaning, use a product made for cleaning laminate.

Sweep the floor on a regular basis. You can use the vacuum on the hardwood floor setting, but avoid all abrasive materials including the vacuum beater bar. The bar, steel wool, and other scratchy materials can scratch and damage the laminate. Ice is actually very helpful; if you have a thick stain from a solid material like old chewing gum, place ice on the material to harden it, and then scrape it off using stiff plastic. A credit card or a plastic dish scraper could work.

Laminate comes in so many styles now that you can find just about any wood-type look. They are long lasting and environmentally friendly because of their longevity. If you want a tough floor that won’t strain your budget, laminate is a definite option.