There are very strong reasons for this incredible popularity but there are also negatives that you should be aware of if you are looking to purchase a laminate floor. Because the pattern in most advertisements for laminate flooring is wood grain many people get the mistaken impression that it is a real hardwood veneer laminated to a fiberboard core but that is simply not the case. They are actually paper imprinted with a high quality photographic image, usually of wood, although it can also be printed to simulate ceramic, terrazzo, marble or terra cotta.
This paper is then laminated to a high density fiber board (HDF) base. The laminate surface is then sealed with a protective long lasting coating, usually a highly scratch resistant aluminum oxide finish. The thicker laminate floors (12 mm. ) actually sound like a hardwood floor when you walk on them. Most companies offer free samples of their laminate floor patterns. Quality laminate floors are generally much more water, stain and scratch resistant and will not fade or dent when compared to hardwood floors. Hardwood floors also require more maintenance and are not as durable.
The better laminate floors have water resistant cores and the edges are wax impregnated so they are suitable for use in bathrooms, kitchens and other rooms that have occasional water spills. Many cannot be used in bathrooms or kitchens because the core is not protected from moisture absorption. Many warranties specifically state that the product is not intended for bathrooms or other areas subject to water spills. Many of the less expensive laminates have only a 10 year warranty.
However, if the sticker shock of hardwood floors has you reeling laminate floors may give you what you are looking for at an acceptable price and with better durability and reduced maintenance. You can use a flooring calculator to find out how much a laminate or hardwood floor will cost