Should I Buy Discount Laminate Flooring

Today Tammy writes:

Diva, we’re giving serious thought to buying discount laminate flooring and there seems to be a huge gap in price, starting at $.49 cents a square foot and going all the way up to $5.00 a square foot, what gives? Is there a difference? Should I buy discount laminate flooring and if so, is it okay to install in heavy traffic areas?

Tammy, you have hit the nail on the head with this question! There is indeed a huge price discrepancy in discount laminates.  This is partially because there are so many styles and levels of quality when it comes to laminate flooring. And it is also because different store types see discount as a different price point.  Meaning a discount laminate from a warehouse store will usually cost less than a dollar while one found at an upscale flooring showroom could be as much as $5.oo a square foot.

As to the second part of your question, yes there is a difference.  This is because typically the price difference is attributed to the quality difference.  So you do get what you pay for.  It used to be pretty simple if you wanted flooring for a heavy traffic are, you didn’t spend anything less than $2 a square foot.  These days, however, I’m not so sure.  I’ve seen laminates that are under $1 a square foot boast a 30 year wear warranty.

Should I Buy Discount Laminate FlooringBut I’ll tell you the things I know for sure.  No matter what product you are looking at, no matter what the price range, do the key test.  The key test is a simple test that will help you determine how your flooring will hold up in everyday usage. You simply take a sample of the flooring and put it on the ground, “finish side” up.  Then you hold a set of keys out, above the flooring, at shoulder height and drop them.  Then you pick up your keys and the flooring and see if there are any discernible marks.

If you’re looking for laminate that will hold up to heavy traffic, you will want to make sure that there is no mark left on the sample from the keys.  Typically speaking, a flooring that can’t handle the pressure will show scratches or dents.  This would be a bad flooring to put in any house with children, pets, or for anyone who is as clumsy as I am.  Especially since I drop at least one thing on the floor everyday.

Another thing you should look at when choosing discount laminate is the locking system of the laminate.  This is because if the locking system is chipped or has a lot of imperfections it will be more difficult to install.  This means that you could end up spending more money than you saved in labor costs, or purchasing extra product to make up for the “bad” pieces. This is also why most people have difficulty putting together laminate flooring.  Simply put, not all laminate is created equal and sometimes paying a little more will ensure a happy experience when it comes to installation.

Typically speaking, you will still want to look at a laminate in the $2 a square foot or more range for ease of installation.  Usually the more expensive laminate options have more quality control to ensure that the boards fit together tighter and install easier. This is also true when it comes to laminate from flooring companies, because those companies are in the business of making flooring, so their reputation is on the line should there be any issues. Specifically, I’d recommend companies like Pergo Laminate Flooring and Shaw Flooring. Both Pergo and Shaw have quality control in place to make sure that you are getting the best product possible. While the laminates under a $1 a square foot are usually imported from factories all over the world that are only making laminate because they can do so cheaply.

Does this mean you shouldn’t get discount laminate? Heck, no! It simply means that you need to try the key test and check out the locking system before purchasing. If the flooring dents or scratches, or you have a difficult time putting the pieces together at the store, then it’s a bad idea!  Remember if you’re “penny wise but pound foolish”, then you haven’t really saved anything.  Instead, you’ve only created more expense and heartache in the long run!

Do you have questions about the selecting or the installation of: tile, carpet wall treatments (window blinds, etc)? Then email me your tale of woe and perhaps I will be able to answer your questions right here at the Home Makeover Diva Blog!