First of all we are talking about laminate floors which were introduced over twenty years ago. When laminate floors were new to the market, the perceived value was the consumer could install it themselves. There were some good, some bad, and some ugly, stories as laminate sales grew by leaps and bounds year after year.  Many manufacturers were seeing the success of other brands and it became a race to see who could make it the cheapest.  There were many products put on the market before they were proven not to fail.   The formaldehyde problem was a result of cutting costs.

The North American Laminate Flooring Association was formed to bring American manufacturers to the fore front and eliminate as many of the growing problems possible that the laminate industry was facing.

The standards have improved along with improvements to the quality of all aspects of this affordable flooring choice. The finish bond, the wear resistance, impact resistance, stain and fade resistance, and clean ability, have all been improved by many years of research and development.

Today Laminate flooring is one of the most durable worry free floors that we sell, and have recently introduced new multilayer and ridged core products that offer water resistant and even waterproof options.  While we used to sell  laminate as a DIY or less expensive floor, today we sell it for the benefits and performance qualities it offers.  With the improvements, and looks of today’s laminate, we are installing it in more expensive homes than I ever thought we would. There are laminates that consumers aren’t buying just for price, but also for design and style, that is now realistic wood like visuals. Laminate floors are composed with over 90% wood content, and the industry has become a watchdog for forest sustainable habits.  Every laminate brand that we sell at Floor Specialists in Stuart comes from plants that practice FSC certifications, which not only protects sustaining our forests, but totally monitors the VOC [volatile organic compounds] that go into any of the NALFA products.

Laminate floors are pet and kid friendly and easy to maintain. With regular vacuuming, and a dry terry cloth mop you can keep your laminate floors clean and appealing. For general spot cleaning just a little vinegar and water will work, but check with the manufacturers’ instructions first.

Now for our take on the new Luxury Vinyl Planks that have recently taken the Flooring industry by storm. Even though the category has been around for years, it’s the advertising and more improved visuals that have made a more acceptable flooring choice for todays’ consumers, especially the millennium generation.

It starts with the word, ‘WATERPROOF ‘ which doesn’t mean bullet proof.   There are many different abbreviations which make the LVT category confusing to understand.  First it is called LVT which stands for Luxury Vinyl Tile but it also includes luxury vinyl planks.  The plank format far outsells the tile look. 

LVT comes in the traditional glue down version, which is thinner and used more commercially.  Floor prep is essential for this application as any imperfections in the subfloor will telescope through. This is the best floor for commercial use and is the easiest to repair.  Glued down luxury vinyl has been around for decades and can with stand roller traffic and daily cleanings.

The design evolution has introduced more rigid  [MLF] multi-layer flooring, including WPC[ water proof core] used to be [wood plastic composite], and SPC  [stone plastic composite]  These floors are being marketed as suitable for any needs , and easy as pie to install.  Repairs can be done, but they are more difficult that advertised.  With the success of a few, many manufacturers followed and now there are hundreds of LVT floors on the market.  At Floor Specialist, we carry several of the most recognized brands, such as Armstrong, Tarkett, Quick Step, and Mohawk.

In conclusion, both laminate and LVT are good values, the laminate is been around longer and you can be sure the kinks have been ironed out, where many of the LVT products are still relatively new and not as well proven over time.  Even though they are advertised as waterproof, if you flood these floors and water gets under them, you may have a mold or mildew problem. Don’t be surprised if the manufacturers’ website recommends that a moisture barrier be installed under some of these waterproof floors.