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A Detailed Analysis of the Best Laminate Flooring Options

Best Laminate Flooring
The numerous brands, with a variety of flooring options, make choosing the right laminate a difficult task. Along with a guideline on purchasing the flooring, read this article to get an idea of the best laminate flooring available in the market.
DecorDezine Staff
Last Updated: May 31, 2018
Look For Quality, Not Its Thickness
Most of you will be attracted towards purchasing a 12mm laminate, but it's the quality of construction and methods used to manufacture the product that matters the most.
Laminate flooring
Laminate flooring, with its multiple layers, is like a hybrid of all other flooring options. Each of its layers is made of a different material and has a different function.
  • The top layer protects it from the usual wear and tear―stains, scratches, and spills.
  • The second layer is the design layer, with a photograph of the material you want it to mimic.
  • The third layer provides it with stability and is made of melamine and wood fibers.
  • The fourth and last layer protects it from moisture.
Laminate flooring
Laminates are available in loads of different colors, and some high-end laminates are also textured. More resistant to moisture than either hardwood or vinyl, these can be even installed in your kitchen or bathroom; though they will not do well with standing water. As it is a floating floor, it can be installed on any flooring, provided it is even and dry. It is also quick and easy to install―a great project for an avid DIY'er.
As you read through the article, we will not only mention the top rated brands out there but also provide information on what makes a particular laminate flooring 'best'. So, keep the suggestions and tips in mind when you're about to shop for your own flooring.
Determining the Quality
Designed to appear, feel, and sound like real hardwood, there are a variety of laminate floors available in the market. More often than not, many homeowners prefer to install them as the material costs far less than red hardwood floors. And as a bonus, there is a wide range of designs, patterns, sizes, thickness, and gloss quality available. So, in order to find the 'best' of the lot, how should you go about the entire process?

  • Similar to other flooring types, for laminate, there are grades given depending on the quality of the product―good, better, and best. Depending on this, you can figure out the quality of the product along with the different facets such as pattern, durability, moisture resistance, cost, and length of use.
  • Apart from residential use, these floorings are installed in commercial buildings (offices, hotels, etc.) as well. So basically, the purpose of the flooring will differ for both locations. For residential purposes, you need to concentrate on the location of installation (living room, bedroom, etc), choice of grade, its attractiveness, and value for money.
  • Next comes the Abrasion Class ratings. Each laminate is given an AC rating that has its own purpose―resistance to moisture, abrasions, stains, etc. and suitability to either residential or commercial installation.
Best Brands in the Business
With the numerous brands, types, and finishes, it can be quite a daunting task to choose the best; so, here is a small overview of the highest rated laminate options in the market.
Armstrong
Arguably the most renowned laminates in America, Armstrong offers an amazing variety of flooring options which suit all lifestyles, budgets, and styles. Armstrong has different laminate collections, and here are the three highest rated -
Grand Illusions Collection
A very popular and highly-rated laminate, partly due to its exceptionally realistic look, the Grand Illusions Collection comes in 5" wide individual planks with the patented Lock&Fold technology and is available in 12 colors.

Width: 4.92 in.
Length: 47.76 in.
Thickness: 12mm
AC Rating: AC3
Edge/End Type: Micro Edge/Micro Ends
Residential Warranty: 30 years
Extra Features: MasterWorks Technology, VisionGuard, HydraCore Plus
Pros of Grand Illusions Collection
Featuring the MasterWorks Technology, this laminate is renowned for its vibrant and clean look. It has a thickness of 12mm, which gives it a better stability and feel. It has the highest capacity of scratch resistance and is well-protected against fading and general wear by VisionGuard. It can be installed as soon as it is delivered, as it doesn't have to be acclimatized. The Lock&Fold technology and plank size mean it is very easy to install and flooring can be completed in just a weekend.
Cons of Grand Ilusions Collection
Some people have reported popping and snapping sounds when walking on the floor. Though easy to clean, some colors, namely, Tigerwood, Walnut, Afzelia, Brazilian Jatoba, Cabreuva, Cherry, Cherry Bronze, Cherry Natural and Melbourne Acacia show smudges and dirt very easily, due to their high gloss.
Rustics Premium Laminate Collection
This collection, just like Grand Illusions, not only looks unbelievably real but also has textures giving it a rustic, distressed look. They are available in 12 different styles, each featuring a distinct texture.

Width: Varied
Length: Varied
Thickness: 12mm
AC Rating: AC3
Edge/End Type: Varied Residential
Warranty: 30 years
Extra Features: MasterWorks Technology, VisionGuard, HydraCore Plus
Pros of Rustic Premium Laminate Collection
Each style of these laminates has a different plank texture, length, width, and edges, accentuating the natural, worn look. The low gloss, distressed surface hides scratches, stains and smudges better. Rustics Premium has VisionGuard and HardCore Plus, giving it better durability than many other laminates. The 12mm thickness of its broad planks makes it feel more stable.
Coastal Living
Inspired by the sandy beaches and boardwalks, this collection features 5 distinct styles.

Width: 5.31 in. (except Oyster Bay Pine)
Length: 47.44 in. (except Oyster Bay Pine)
Thickness: 12mm
AC Rating: AC3
Edge/End Type: Beveled Edge/Beveled Ends
Residential Warranty: 30 years
Extra Features: MasterWorks Technology, VisionGuard, HydraCore Plus
Pros of Coastal Living
This laminate looks and feels like the authentically weathered woods, but has the durability and price-range of premium laminates. The hand-scraped look makes it easier to hide minor wear and tear or even regular dirt. Featuring the Lock&Fold technology, it is very easy and quick to install.
Pergo
Pergo is the most widely known brand of laminates, and for many people synonymous with laminate. Pergo invented laminates and was the first to market them in the 1970s. They feature an extensive range of colors, looks, and textures, in several qualities and price-ranges.
Pergo Max
With a total of 64 styles, this versatile collection offers the best features of Pergo.

Width: Varied
Length: Varied
Thickness: 12mm
AC Rating : AC4
Edge/End Type: Varied
Residential Warranty: Lifetime
Extra Features: ScratchGuard Advanced, PermaMax, SecureLock
Pros of Pergo Max
This collection has one of the widest range of colors and styles - besides the usual classic and traditional styles, they also offer exclusives like Zoo Friends, aimed at children or Inspiration, with its unique brown and blue theme. With an AC4 rating, PermaMax and ScratchGuard, this collection is a lot more durable and fade-resistant than most other laminates. It is easy to install, and the joints are much more stable due to the SecureLock technology.
Cons of Pergo Max
The product needs to be acclimatized prior to installation and it cannot tolerate excessive water.
Elegant Expressions
A premium collection by Pergo, this collection features 9 styles with unique colors and textures.

Width: Varied
Length: Varied
Thickness: 10mm
AC Rating: AC4
Edge/End Type: Micro Beveled
Residential Warranty: Lifetime
Extra Features: AccuWood Textures, ScratchGard Advanced, PermaMax
Pros of Elegant Expressions
AccuWood Texture and narrow plank give it a very realistic look. A limited lifetime warranty, coupled with its durability, makes it very desirable.
Bruce
Owned by the Armstrong Industries, Bruce offers collections that mirror Armstrong in styling and features.
Park Avenue
This collection is noted for its amazing resemblance to hardwood and has a stunning, clean, sophisticated look. It has 8 beautiful colors with a high gloss finish.

Width: 4.92 in.
Length: 47.76 in.
Thickness: 12mm
AC Rating: AC3
Edge/End Type: Micro Edge/Micro Ends
Residential Warranty: 30 years
Extra Features: MasterWorks Technology, VisionGuard, HydraCore Plus
Pros of Park Avenue
Featuring the MasterWorks, VisionGuard and HydraCore Plus Technology, this collection has a classy look, with excellent durability and protection from moisture. The thickness of the laminate enhances the feel, plus gives it additional stability. It is also fast and easy to install, being a floating flooring with a Lock&Fold feature.
Cons of Park Avenue
Being very glossy and shiny, these floors tend to show smudges very easily, requiring frequent cleaning. This problem is more apparent when the high gloss is combined with very dark colors like Mocha Maple and Wenge.
Reserve Premium
Reserve Premium collection has 11 colors with mid to low gloss finish and distressed texture for an understated, classy look.

Width: Varied
Thickness: 12mm
AC Rating: AC3
Length: Varied
Edge/End Type: Varied
Residential Warranty: 50 years
Extra Features: MasterWorks Technology, VisionGuard, HydraCore Plus
Pros of Reserve Premium
It has a vintage hardwood appearance and texture, along with varied plank sizes and subtle character marks. The thickness of the planks gives it a wonderful feel and stability. VisionGuard protects it from the usual wear, while HydraCore Plus protects it from moisture, giving it one of the best durability when it comes to laminates.
Cons of Reserve Premium
It is a heavy flooring, and though it has Lock&Fold and doesn't need to be acclimatized, like all Armstrong and Bruce flooring, its weight can make it a bit difficult to install.
Mannington
Mannington manufactures most of its products in the USA, and its laminates contain over 70% recycled material. It has six collections, with the Revolutions Plank Diamond Bay of the highest quality, followed by the Restoration Collection.
Revolutions Plank Diamond Bay
With rich, deep colors designed to perfectly mimic the exotic hardwoods and be environment-friendly, this collection comes in around 8 styles.

Width: 5.43 in.
Length: 47.68 in.
Thickness: 12mm
AC Rating: AC3
Edge/End Type: Micro-Bevel
Residential Warranty: 25 years
Extra Features: Diamond Finish, FloorScore Certified, Low VOC emissions
Pros of Revolution Plank Diamond Bay
The Revolutions Plank Diamond Bay laminates are made of recycled material, and emit less VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds), ensuring a better quality indoor air. They look beautiful and are easy to install, as they feature the Click System. The 1/2 in. thickness gives this flooring excellent stability and a comfortable feel for your feet.
Cons of Revolutions Plank Diamond Bay
It is only available in local specialty stores, Mannington can be a pricier option, as sale-prices and deals are hard to come by. They need to be acclimatized in the room where you want them installed for at least 48 hours.
Restoration Collection
This collection features 17 different styles with realistic look and texture, and made from over 70% recycled material.

Width: 6.18 in.
Length: 50.5 in.
Thickness: 12mm
AC Rating: AC3
Edge/End Type: Varied
Residential Warranty: 25 years
Extra Features: FloorScore Certified, Low VOC emissions
Pros of Restoration Collection
Each of its styles has a distinct texture and edges to match the wood, enhancing the look and feel of your flooring. These laminates are made in the US; definitely a greener option and with low emissions, keep the indoor air cleaner compared to most other laminates. Featuring the Click System, they are easy to install and the thickness and texture mean, they not only look like real wood, they also come close to feeling like one.
Cons of Restoration Collection
As Mannington laminates are only available in selected local stores, availability and pricing could be an issue. These laminates have to be acclimatized for a minimum of two days before installation.
Quick-Step
Quick-Step revolutionized the flooring industry by introducing 'Uniclic', a system of joining planks. Made in the USA from recycled materials, Quick-Step offers loads of variety in different qualities and price-ranges. Quick-Step is a reputed brand in laminate flooring.
Reclaime
A premium collection by Quick-Step, Reclaime offers the best of Quick-Step and comes in 9 styles.

Width: 7.5 in.
Length: 54.34 in.
Thickness: Approx. 12mm
AC Rating: AC4
Edge/End Type: Micro-Bevel
Residential Warranty: Lifetime
Extra Features: ScratchGuard, Uniclic
Pros of Reclaime
The subtle colors and texture of these laminates perfectly resemble the hardwood. High thickness gives it a good feel underfoot and stability. These laminates come with an AC4 rating and a limited lifetime warranty. The patented Uniclic locking system ensures the installation is quick and easy. Quick-Step laminates are made in the USA, from recycled material and are FloorScore certified.
Elevae
This collection has been designed to bring the edgy and time worn look of oak and pine boards.

Width: 8 in.
Length: 32 in.
Thickness: 12mm
AC Rating: AC4
Edge/End Type: Micro Bevel
Residential Warranty: Lifetime
Pros of Elevae
This is a relatively new collection of laminates, launched in 2016. Quick Step has incorporated beautiful colors in this collection and the style ranges from rustic to contemporary. It has a wood texture and the micro-beveled edges enhance the look.
Points to Remember
  • AC ratings are used to rate a laminate's durability. Generally, an 'AC3' rating is sufficient for a residential building and light commercial use. AC5 is the highest rating and is suitable for places with very high traffic, for example, a grocery store or a public building.
  • A thicker laminate will feel more wood-like, comfortable and stable.
  • An underlayment helps to minimize the clickity sound and also makes the floor feel warmer.
  • Determine the product's ISO ratings (technically, a good-quality laminate will have a rating of 9001).
  • Although most high-quality laminates are more scratch-resistant than hardwood, they will scratch and dent with rough usage.
  • Once a laminate is damaged, you cannot refinish it; you have to get it replaced to restore the perfect finish.
  • In order to purchase the flooring that has gone through a series of quality-assurance tests, ask for the product's NALFA Certification Seal.
  • Laminates are damaged by standing water, so best not to install them in kitchens, bathrooms, or laundry rooms.
  • Always check samples of the flooring in the stores as these can give you an indication of any alignment issues, gaps, and unevenness in the floorboards. 
Laminates have come a long way from when they were first launched. The new premium laminates use the latest technological advances to enhance the look and feel by adding textures, character marks and shades. These new laminates are also more moisture-resistant, durable, green and make little noise. So, if you love the look of hardwoods, but want something more durable, standing up to the demands of an active lifestyle, high-end laminates are just made for you.
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