Brief history of laminate
Although plastic laminates had been around for long time and used as ornate covers on furniture, it wasn’t strong or durable enough for flooring purposes until the invention of a specifically designed laminate compound which is twenty times stronger than ordinary laminated plastic, that laminated flooring was possible.
Laminate flooring (sometimes referred to as floating wood tile in the U.S.) is a synthetic product which has, to a large degree, replaced mainstream traditional wooden flooring since its introduction in the late 1970’s. Consisting of a clear protective layer of plastic over a photographic image of wood, slate or tile which, in turn, sits on top of multiple layers of compressed paper or fibre, laminate flooring is long-lasting, hard-wearing and, most importantly, cheaper than a wooden floor.
Swedish flooring company Perstorp are credited with the invention of laminate flooring in 1977 but it wasn’t until 1984 that their new product, sold under the brand name of Pergo, was introduced to the European markets. Already a huge success in its native Sweden, Pergo laminated flooring took Europe by storm and ten years later it was America’s turn to be convinced of the benefits that laminated floors had to offer.
Apart from being considerably more cost-effective than traditional wood floors, laminate flooring has a number of additional benefits and advantages.
Versatility. Laminate floors, being basically a protected photographic image, can be used to replicate the most expensive wood or tile finishes and even stone-effects such as marble and granite are now available on the market.
Easy Installation. Laminate flooring is simplicity itself to install as they are designed to click into place using interlocking tongues and grooves. Even having a floor installed by a professional is considerably cheaper as it is much simpler and quicker than installing wooden or tiled floors.
Easy Cleaning. Some laminate flooring nowadays is water resistant but, in general, laminates only need sweeping and an occasional clean with a damp mop. It is not a good idea to let water soak into the floor as this may lead to warping over time but the same is true of wooden floors.
Hygienic. Most laminate floors use an anti-microbial resin to bond the layers together.
Environmentally Friendly. Although a laminate floor may look like real wood, it contains only small quantities of paper and wood pulp and can be safely disposed of without causing any environmental harm. Laminated flooring also only contains minute quantities of chemicals so air quality is not affected.