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When laying your own laminate hardwood flooring, it is important to leave a 10mm space around the perimeter of the room as well as around any obstacles in the room such as pillars, heat vents, etc. The reason for this space is that the laminate core is made of wood. That means it is going to expand slightly with adjustments in the room's temperature and humidity. When the weather is warmer, or if the room's temperature rises, the planks will expand slightly so you'll want that small gap there to allow for the natural expansion. Without this 10mm space, flooring boards may buckle as they press against the wall or whatever obstacle is in the room.
Many homeowners make renovations to their homes in order to improve the house's resale value. When considering flooring options, keep in mind that solid or engineered hardwood flooring increases your home's resale value considerably more than using laminate hardwood flooring. Because hardwood is made of natural materials, it costs more to purchase and install. This expense does transfer to your asking price on the house later on, though, so it may be worth it to invest in those materials. Also, hardwood flooring lasts longer than laminate flooring, which means your potential buyers won't have to factor in the cost of reinstalling flooring when they move in.
That said, laminate lends a beautiful look to virtually any room. If you keep it clean and in good shape, your buyers may not be concerned that it's not real wood. In fact, many homeowners care more about low-maintenance flooring than authenticity, so having laminate wood flooring may actually work in your favor.
There's a fairly long list of the pros and cons for both laminate and hardwood flooring. What you need to ask yourself is how much you want to spend, where you want to place your flooring and how much maintenance you are ready to put into your flooring.
The cost of laminate flooring is significantly lower than hardwood flooring. However, if you're a stickler for a real-wood floor, take a good look at your budget; you may find that engineered hardwood flooring (which used real wood throughout its layers) may still fit into your budget.
The most significant difference between hardwood and laminate wood flooring is the latter's resistance to moisture and wear. So, if you desire a wood-look in your bathroom, for example, laminate may be the perfect choice. Also extremely high traffic areas in your home could benefit from laminate flooring's extra durability.
Both laminate flooring and hardwood flooring need a certain amount of extra care. Neither should be cleaned with abrasive cleaners, wax or soap detergents. Laminate flooring does not need sanding or resurfacing, but unlike hardwood, damaged sections are not as easy to repair.
One of the best parts about laminate hardwood flooring is that installation is a snap, literally. Planks are snapped and/or glued together using a tongue-and-groove system that allows them to fit snugly. What goes underneath your laminate flooring is just as important. Be sure to place a smooth and even underlayer of foam or some other resilient material on the existing floor before adding your planks. The underlayer will help with shock-absorption, but will also soundproof your floor. Floors that have a hollow sound when you walk over them indicate that the underlayer is either not smooth -- or not present at all. Be sure yours is even and pulled tight before even beginning your laminate floor installation.
Laminate flooring repels moisture, but this also means it can become very slippery when wet. Be sure to allow ample time for drying after you've washed the floor. If there are any wet spills, wipe them up immediately. Wet feet from boots and shoes can also cause the floors to become slippery. Leave a mat at the entrance of your doorway to absorb tracked-in wetness. Wipe any wetness away immediately. Finally, laminate floors in kitchens are most susceptible to hidden wet spots. Dropped ice cubes or splattered dish water can cause a real hazard. Be aware and wipe up moisture right away.