What are composites and laminates?

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In flooring, composites and laminates are two choices generally compared with real wood and engineered wood by buyers planning to install a non-carpet floor covering. The main difference is that composites and laminates are completely manmade and have little or no wood content, whereas real wood and engineered wood are composed mainly of natural wood, with a certain amount of glue in the case of engineered wood.

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Composite flooring is made of a urethane wear layer, a printed paper layer, and a wood-plastic composite (WPC) body. In some cases, the WPC is, in fact, a mineral-plastic composite of calcium carbonate. An ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam backing may be added. Composites tend to be very rigid.

Laminate flooring is made of a transparent wear layer, a printed paper decor layer, high-density fibreboard (HDF), and a thin backing layer for stability. Laminate comes in various thicknesses – from 7mm (light domestic) to 12mm (commercial grade) – and is fairly rigid.

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Differences between laminate and composite flooring

Composites are fully waterproof, whereas laminate is water resistant and may swell and warp under flooded conditions. Consequently, laminates must not be installed in areas that may be subject to wet conditions, such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms.

Composites generally have an integrated foam rubber (EVA) layer that cushions the floor and adds to thermal and sound insulation

Laminate flooring is cheaper than composite; however, it does require more surface preparation, as it has a tendency to reflect any imperfections in the underfloor. Laminate requires a separate underlayer and thus more complex pre-installation preparation, adding to the cost.

Floor loading

The British Standard BS 6399 part 1 provides minimum requirements for safe load bearing capacities in different building applications and flooring duties. Reference to this standard will enable flooring suppliers such as https://www.woodfloorwarehouse.ie/laminate-flooring.html to ensure that your proposed application is suitable for the material they offer. Professional flooring inspection companies are available if needed.

Added value

Wood effect flooring has gained in popularity and status in recent years compared with many natural wood flooring alternatives. It has become a material of choice due to its lower cost, versatility, ease of installation, and resilience to daily use.

Many homebuyers find that the natural appeal of a wood finish adds value to a home and are attracted to the advantages of wood finish flooring.

Alix Philips is a keen interior designer and writes for a range of websites and blogs with her decor ideas. She has advised on the decorating of many homes including bathrooms and used products such as those available from bathandshower.com.

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