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Does Laminate Flooring Really Offer Good Value?
Laminate flooring revolutionized the home improvement market when it was popularized in the 1980s and 1990s. It was developed by the Swedish company Perstorp in 1977 as an artificial alternative to wooden flooring produced by laying together layers of plastic and fiberboard. Its initial selling point was its price at just £8 per m², which has further dropped to just £5 per m² in recent years.
The main disadvantage of laminate flooring was its often unconvincing imitation of parquet. In its early days, scanned images were often not very clear and contained excessive repetitions of natural wood characteristics such as knots and summer growth rings, which was a dead giveaway. However, over time laminate has become much more compelling as modern manufacturers have the technical capabilities to use high resolution images. This, coupled with the ability to store a wider selection of scanned wood samples to produce their flooring, means that an area large enough to cover an entire room can be, in effect, ‘printed’, without any pattern repeat.
Another remarkable development in laminate flooring has been the addition of texture to the floor surface. Subtle indentations that resembled the wood grain texture that is often exhibited in real wood flooring through a brushed finish and the beveled edges of the plank sections that created v-grooves when laid added to the enhanced authentic feel of laminate flooring.
Series were a pioneer in this transition from cheap imitation flooring to a high quality alternative and still offer some of the most affordable and highest quality laminate flooring in the UK today. Current laminate prices range between £5 and £12 per m², varying widely due to the different qualities. Compared to a minimum of £15m² for engineered flooring and over £20m² for solid wood flooring, laminate still offers an easy and cheap solution to the parquet problem.
A cheap price does not necessarily mean good value. Laminate flooring, as mentioned, comes in different grades ranging from AC1 to AC5, with AC3 and AC5 grades being the most common. This refers to the durability of the flooring, whether it is suitable for a domestic or commercial environment and its expected lifespan. Some AC3 laminate flooring might cost as little as £6 per square metre, but the residential warranty offered would be limited to just 5-7 years. However, if you’re willing to spend twice as much on AC5-grade flooring, you could benefit from a much longer 30-year residential warranty.
This brings us to the key factor of value. Although cheaper AC3 grade laminate flooring costs only one-fifth the price of solid wood flooring, it will need to be replaced on average every 5 years, while hardwood flooring will last for decades. Mathematically it just doesn’t work but coupled with the fact that every flooring installation can also take more time and money and the product while it lasts won’t feel as high quality as wood solid or engineered flooring, low grade laminate flooring. is not a good value.
However, there is certainly potential in premium laminate flooring. AC5 grade flooring may cost twice as much as AC3, but it should last 6 times longer. Hopefully this proves that it’s definitely worth doing the math when comparing products to get an idea of true value rather than just cheapness.
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