If you’re looking to install new floors, but have found that hardwood flooring is outside your budget, then laminate flooring may be a great option. This material mimics the appearance of wood flooring while providing great durability and scratch resistance.
Laminate flooring is increasingly popular for residential use, even in high-traffic areas like living rooms and dining rooms. Many top flooring providers offer all-inclusive installation of these products with comprehensive warranties. Read on to learn more about the benefits of installing laminate planks or flooring during your next remodel.
Best Laminate Flooring
Here are our picks for the best laminate flooring products. Each will have its pluses and minuses and will be differently suited to homeowner needs and style preferences.
|Laminate Type||Where to Buy||Superlative||Cost per Sq. Ft.|
|Dream Home XD Laminate||LL Flooring||Best for noise reduction||$1.50–$2.50|
|Empire Laminate||Empire Flooring||Best for quick installation||Get a quote|
|Shaw Premier Laminate||Floor Coverings International||Best for high-traffic areas||$4.00–$7.50|
|Pergo Outlast Plus||The Home Depot||Best for DIY installation||$2.00–$4.00|
|Mohawk RevWood||See Mohawk’s website||Most style options||$2.50–$3.75|
|Mannington Coordinations Laminate||See Mannington’s website||Most water-resistant||$2.75–$3.75|
Dream Home XD Laminate: Best for Noise Reduction
Dream Home XD Laminate is one of the most readily available, high-quality, and affordable laminate flooring options on the market. This line within LL Flooring’s Dream Home collection comes in varied shades of oak and hickory, with many including an attached padded underlayment. This flooring line’s noise-reduction qualities make it a popular choice for those with larger families.
Where To Buy Dream Home XD Laminate
You can purchase Dream Home XD laminate flooring through LL Flooring. As with all purchases through this retailer, you can request a full-service installation along with your premium laminate planks.
Pros and Cons of Dream Home XD Laminate
- 50-year residential warranty
- AC rating of 4, making it tough enough for all residential uses
- Comes in varying thicknesses, from 8 mm to 12 mm
- Not all XD options come with attached underlayment
This flooring costs between $1.50 and $2.50 per square foot. Your exact pricing figures will depend on the thickness and whether you opt for the 50-year warranty.
Empire Laminate Flooring: Best for Quick Installation
Empire is one of the leading names in the flooring industry and produces a line of laminate flooring to match. These laminate options come with a high-density fiberboard core, photorealistic wood grain or real wood image, and a sturdy melamine wear layer. You’ll be able to purchase various options, including waterproof laminate flooring.
Where To Buy Empire Laminate Flooring
Empire Flooring’s transparent pricing for all-inclusive installation makes it a top choice for homeowners in 29 states. Contact them to set up a flooring consultation today.
Pros and Cons of Dream Empire Laminate
- All Empire laminate is made in the United States
- Offers next-day installation
- Installation and labor warranties are only one year
Empire’s pricing is difficult to pin down as it varies by location. All pricing estimates are all-inclusive, but you must schedule an in-person consultation for a realistic cost analysis.
Shaw Premier Laminate From Floor Coverings International: Best for High-Traffic Areas
Shaw laminates come in a wide range of textures, widths, and thicknesses to suit residential and commercial flooring needs. Though Shaw’s laminate products do not have a defined AC rating, all reviews point to them being incredibly durable and long-lasting. As a bonus, Shaw’s Premier line of laminate is rated to withstand contact with water for up to a full day before cleaning.
Most other laminate lines do not offer this margin for error when dealing with water or moisture.
Where To Buy Shaw Premiere Laminate
Shaw laminate flooring is available through Floor Coverings International.
Pros and Cons of Shaw Premiere Laminate
- Environmentally friendly options available
- Limited lifetime product warranty offered upon installation
- No official AC rating listed for Shaw products
Shaw laminates cost between $4 and $7.50 per square foot without installation and labor. Luckily, when you purchase from Floor Coverings International, you’ll have access to this retailer’s price-matching program.
Pergo Outlast Plus From The Home Depot: Best for DIY Installation
Pergo is a founding name in the laminate flooring industry, and its Outlast Plus line of flooring is one of its top products. These water-resistant laminate products offer easy installation and come with a pre-attached underlayment to provide added protection and noise reduction.
Reviews show that this product is one of the leading options for those on a budget. However, customers looking to buy Pergo Outlast Plus should note that an expansion gap should be left along the molding to account for temperature fluctuations after installation.
Where To Buy Pergo Outlast Plus
Pergo laminate is available from any Home Depot location across the country. Its prevalence makes it a favorite among DIY home renovators.
Pros and Cons of Pergo Outlast Plus
- AC rating of 4/6 makes it ideal for any residential floor
- Comes with Mohawk’s SpillProtect technology for further protection
- Comes with a pre-attached underlayment
- Uniclic technology makes for watertight seals between boards
- Not as scratch-resistant as other brands
- Only available as a floating floor
Pergo Outlast Plus flooring costs between $2 and $4 per square foot. Depending on your contractor, associated labor to install it will cost anywhere from $4 to $5 extra per square foot.
Mohawk RevWood Laminate Flooring: Most Available Style Options
Mohawk’s RevWood line is among the best water-resistant, realistic laminate flooring options. It carries an AC rating that makes it perfect for heavy residential foot traffic, is rated for intermediate moisture exposure, and comes in 35 different colors and textures. Whether you install this yourself or hire a contractor, this advanced line of products will provide full protection for years to come.
Where To Buy Mohawk RevWood Laminate
Mohawk flooring products can be purchased at big box retailers, including The Home Depot, Lowe’s, and many other locally owned flooring warehouses across the country.
Pros and Cons of Mohawk RevWood Laminate
- 35 style options available
- AC rating of 3/6 makes it ideal for residential use
- Embossed textures make Mohawk a realistic wood alternative
- Mohawk’s Uniclic system forms a watertight seal
- Water-resistant but not waterproof
Mohawk RevWood is fairly affordable, between $2.50 and $3.75 per square foot.
Mannington Coordinations Laminate: Most Water-Resistant
Mannington’s entire line of laminate flooring products is constructed with environmental responsibility in mind. All laminates are FloorScore certified and are made with recycled wood within their rigid cores. The Coordinations collection utilizes a NatureForm film to emulate real woods, while water resistance is ensured via its SpillShield top layer.
Where To Buy Mannington Coordinations Laminate
Mannington laminate flooring products are available at many home improvement stores and local flooring outlets around the country. Consult the store locator page on Mannington’s website.
Pros and Cons of Mannington Coordinations Laminate
- Eco-friendly construction with recycled wood
- NatureForm top layer makes all laminates closely resemble real wood
- SpillShield coating provides added water-resistance
- Recent complaints show issues with warranties being honored
Between $2.75 and $3.75 per square foot. Installation for Mannington costs between $1 and $3 per square foot.
Types of Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring comes in two basic types: fully synthetic and engineered wood. We’ve outlined the differences between the two here.
Engineered wood laminate planks are made from several layers, including high-density fiberboard or unfinished wood products. These layers are pressed together and secured via adhesive, with a finished real wood wear layer on top. This type of flooring mimics the look of natural wood in appearance and feel. Unlike other partially synthetic flooring materials, it can be refinished to regain its factory look.
Plastic laminate flooring is ideal for high foot traffic. Due to its harder, more durable construction, it is far more resistant to dents and scratches and can maintain its original factory appearance for longer than its real wood counterparts. Its cost-effectiveness has made it a popular choice for commercial use. Moreover, laminate products have improved in quality and appearance over the years and are far less distinguishable from real wood than they once were.
Types of Laminate Flooring Installation
Apart from its actual appearance, laminate flooring will vary by installation type. This may influence whether you opt for professional or do-it-yourself (DIY) installation, which is worth paying attention to.
Glueless laminate planks often come with a locking system on the outer edges of each plank. This type of laminate will often require professional installation for optimal appearance and performance.
Some laminate flooring will come with pre-glued peel-and-stick backing. This is similar to certain varieties of vinyl plank flooring and makes DIY work far more accessible. Most flooring manufacturers offer this along with click-locking laminate options.
Factors To Consider When Buying Laminate Flooring
Before deciding on a high-quality laminate flooring option, you should consider the following relevant factors.
The thickness of your laminate flooring’s wear layer should be taken into account. The thicker and more durable your wear layer, the longer you can expect your flooring to last and stand up to daily wear and tear.
Full-scale laminate flooring installation will cost more than simply purchasing laminate flooring planks from a retailer. Getting free estimates or quotes from a flooring pro and comparing these figures to the per-room or per-square-foot cost of flooring materials will help you to decide which route to take.
Plastic or synthetic laminate flooring installation costs between $5 and $6 per square foot for plastic, with labor included. Without labor, you can find quality laminates for $2 to $4 per square foot in most cases. Engineered wood laminate flooring installation costs (materials and labor) range from $3 to $9 per square foot.
In comparison, hardwood flooring often costs between $16 and $23 per square foot to install, or $4 to $10 per square foot without labor. You could save a lot of money in the short term by going with laminate flooring. This is especially true if your project requires new flooring for your entire home.
If your goal is a hassle-free, easy installation, this can affect the laminate flooring you purchase. Click-and-lock laminate is typically best reserved for professional installation, while pre-glued laminate is often more suited for DIY installation.
Pattern and Texture
Your floors will play a huge role in the overall look of your home. Most laminate flooring brands will offer outwardly similar lines of products that are made to mimic real hardwoods, including walnut, hickory, pine, oak, and more.
Additionally, laminate flooring comes with different surface textures, including planking with embossing, hand-scraped varieties, and more.
While going with hardwood flooring is a better way to up your resale value, installing high-quality laminate flooring can give homeowners a decent return on their investment. Laminate floors mimic the appearance of hardwood and, if maintained well, can last for decades.
All flooring manufacturers will offer a warranty with their products. This will differ from retailer to retailer and will often be split into labor and material warranties. Labor warranties will often be shorter, ranging between two and five years.
Pros and Cons of Laminate Flooring
All flooring types will have positive and negative characteristics. Laminate is generally considered the leading budget-friendly alternative to hardwood and can last anywhere from 10 to 30 years, depending on maintenance, regular cleaning, and quality.
Pros of Laminate Flooring
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Can mimic the appearance and texture of many premium kinds of wood
- More affordable than hardwood flooring
- Highly resistant to fading and abrasions
- Not fully waterproof
- Often noisy underfoot
Tips for Installing Laminate Flooring
If you’re conducting a DIY installation for your new flooring, we’ve listed a few tips to keep in mind when you begin.
Sand and Level Your Subfloor
This should be your first step in any flooring installation project. Once your old flooring has been torn up and disposed of, you’ll need to ensure the quality and stability of your subfloor. Most laminate flooring is fairly rigid, which means that a non-level subfloor will have pronounced effects on your finished floors once the installation is complete. Sand down any bumps or ridges, and fill in dips with wood putty. If there is any rot or decay in the planking, you should replace the faulty sections of the subfloor before you begin.
Start on Difficult Areas
We recommend starting your flooring installation on whichever wall has the most variances or doorways. Beginning on a difficult wall and making precise cuts into full-sized planks is far easier in the long run and will add stability to the row of planking that lines this end of the room in question.
Use a Tapping Block
Many click-and-lock laminate flooring planks will require some force. Using a tapping block and a scrap piece of laminate flooring to cushion the blows from your mallet will prevent any damage to your laminate planks during installation.
Use Transition Strips
Transition strips are a great tool that DIYers should utilize when installing laminate flooring in multiple rooms. Transition strips are placed under doors and are meant to conceal laminate plank edges from multiple rooms, allowing you to treat each area as its own project.
Wear Knee Protection
Even if you’re not used to manual labor, working for hours while stooped over on your floor will take a toll on your body. Your lower back and knees are sure to feel the effects first. You can mitigate this by wearing knee pads throughout the installation process.
A professional two-person team can expect to install between 750 and 1,000 square feet of laminate daily. If you’re working on your own, don’t plan to be able to install more than 300 square feet per day.
Be Wary of Heavy Furniture
Laminate flooring will expand and contract over time due to fluctuations in temperature or humidity. This natural process can be inhibited by overly heavy furniture. Pool tables, large cabinets, bulky solid wood furniture, and similar items can pin laminate planks in place and lead to your flooring buckling over time.
Final Thoughts: Best Laminate Flooring
If you’re in the market for new flooring, and have an intermediate budget, then laminate flooring may be the right choice. Many of the options we’ve listed are more affordable than hardwood but will still mimic its high-quality appearance exceedingly well.
Additionally, many laminate flooring options have longer lifespans—between 20 and 30 years—and competitive manufacturer warranties to ensure the performance of your floors for years to come. While it may not be as water or scratch-resistant as many vinyl flooring options, the laminate products we’ve listed are still great options for aesthetics and longevity.
Laminate Flooring FAQs
Is laminate better than vinyl flooring?
On average, laminate flooring will last longer than vinyl flooring will. Top-grade vinyl typically has a maximum lifespan of 20 to 25 years, while laminate will last up to 30 years with proper care and maintenance.
That said, vinyl is better for certain applications, like laundry rooms, basements, mudrooms, and any room exposed to moisture. Laminate may be a better option for living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, and other areas where aesthetics are more of a concern.
Is all laminate water-resistant?
Engineered wood laminate flooring is not waterproof. Its melamine wear layer does make it water-resistant, however. You should quickly clean up any spills on laminate flooring to prevent water damage or warping.
Is laminate always a good alternative to hardwood flooring?
While hardwood flooring is most homeowners’ first choice when faced with any flooring installation or replacement project, laminate is an excellent choice for any would-be renovators on a budget. It’s a top choice for homeowners with young children or pets since laminate is more resistant to damage and scuffs in the short term.
Should I attempt a DIY installation for my laminate floors?
We recommend getting quotes from qualified flooring professionals before you make this decision. Having a flooring company representative look over your project parameters and present flooring situation could be a valuable step toward choosing the best flooring installation method for you. If you have the time and are willing to do the work, laminate flooring is well within the scope of most homeowners to install.
What is an AC rating?
AC ratings are assigned to laminate flooring and range from AC1 to AC6. The higher the number, the more durable a given piece of flooring is. The full rating system is as follows:
- AC1: Moderate residential
- AC2: General residential
- AC3: Heavy residential
- AC4: Moderate commercial
- AC5: General commercial
- AC6: Heavy commercial