What thickness of laminate flooring should I buy?
Laminate is one of the sturdiest materials in the flooring industry. It used to be the case that all laminates were the one standard thickness, however, in today’s market you can find a wide range of options from 6mm up to 12mm and beyond. You might ask what significance, if any, the thickness of a laminate board will have? Before buying a laminate wooden floor, you should know the answer to the following questions:
- Am I installing my new floor on top of the existing floor?
- Does the subfloor have any imperfections?
- How detailed a “design” do I want?
- Is my floor in an area that will have much foot traffic?
Am I installing my new floor on top of the existing floor?
Everyone would love a blank canvas to work with, a brand new, freshly build house with lovely level concrete floors. In reality, this is not the case for a lot of people and this is not the first floor to have found itself installed in this room. Laminates do not have to be nailed or glued to the subfloor, meaning that it is possible to install a laminate floor over tiled floors or solid wood floor.
This “floating” installation method is not recommended for flooring over carpet, mainly because carpet is soft and so will not provide a solid base for the laminate’s joints. It is also not advised to install over another laminate floor. If you do, then you are relying on the quality of product and installation of the existing floor for the longevity of your new one. If the existing product is of poor quality, it may expand and contract extensively and impact your new floor.
One thing to check before deciding to put your new wooden floor over the existing floor is what height you have until you hit the door. If you are limited then it may be best to lift all flooring to the subfloor. This will maximise the range of flooring thicknesses you can choose, and reduce the chance of doors needing to trim the bottom of your doors.
Basically, if you can easily reduce your floor to the subfloor level, this would be advised. If this cannot be done easily i.e. a tiled floor, then fear not as thinner laminates can be used if height is an issue.
Does the subfloor have any imperfections?
As the famous Forrest Gump said, “Subfloors are like a box of chocolates, you never know what your gonna get”. When you chisel away at your tiles you may find some of the adhesive doesn’t want to come off. Or, quite often the case, too much wants to come off. Its highly unlikely that if you are lifting your tiles to make way for your new floor that you achieve a nice level, regular floor. This is where thicker laminate floors are most useful. The thicker the board, the more forgiving you can be to the subfloor. Thinner boards, such as the 7mm will be trickier to install over poor subfloors. Thicker boards are more sturdy and so it is easier to install as the joints will not be flimsy.
How detailed a “design” do I want?
Some laminate floors these days are incredibly detailed and could pass as solid flooring. But to achieve this detail, the manufacturer cannot just work from a flat canvas. To get that “brushed” look, the manufacture needs a certain thickness to the board to allow the machinery to work it’s magic. If you want the wooden textured feel to your board, bear in mind that you are likely to need a thicker board.
Is my floor in an area that will have much foot traffic?
Laminate floors are diverse and can be used in most rooms in the house. Even traditionally no go areas for wooden floors such as Kitchens and Bathrooms can have laminate flooring in them now (PERGO Sensations). With this in mind, it is worth considering how much traffic will be passing over this particular floor. Is it in a guest bedroom that will be used twice a year? Is it in entrance hall? It is clear to see the difference in requirement for each of these scenarios: The entrance hall needs to have a much more durable product than the guest bedroom. Thicker laminates provide more impact resistance than the thinner boards. Thicker boards will also feel more like hardwood underfoot and will provide a quieter step, something to consider in a corridor or bedroom (no one likes to be awoken by a night owl making their way to bed at 3am).
The thickness of a laminate tends to affect how your laminate looks and feels, and impacts the longevity and lifespan of the boards. The board thickness is not necessarily the only factor when it comes to durability, but it definitely plays a critical role in the look and feel of your floor.