The home we purchased many years ago
already had a very high grade laminate flooring product in the kitchen/dining
area called "Hartco". The rest of the home was in carpet. We decided
to remove the remaining carpet in the home and were immediately faced with a
choice ... should we continue with the same, laminate flooring that was already
in the home or start all over with a true hardwood floor?
We looked into the costs of laminate
versus hardwoods and surprisingly, for this grade of laminate flooring,
it was about the same. This type of laminate flooring was an extremely
tough product used commercially in building lobbies and restaurants.
It is designed specifically for high traffic use. That was a big plus for
us. Note ... most laminate flooring products
installed are about half the cost of true hardwoods.
Laminate flooring is also relatively thin
as compared to hardwood floors built on a sub-floor of plywood. For this
reason, if we stayed with the laminate flooring, we would not have to deal with
cutting our doors (which we would have had to do for a thicker floor). In
addition, our kitchen appliances already fit pretty snugly underneath our
countertops, so we would have had a real problem if we tried to install the
thicker, hardwood floors. There seemed to be only one downside ...we would
only be able to refinish the laminate floor one time (because the top coat of
wood is so thin). We didn't see this as an issue, so we decided to go with
the laminate flooring throughout about half of the home.
After pulling the carpet up, the laminate
floor installer applied a self leveling concrete compound. This was an
attempt to take out any dips or waves in the foundation on which the
laminate flooring was going to lay. After the mixture was dry, they sanded
it down. The next step was spreading a thick layer of glue directly onto
the concrete and they began laying the laminate on top. Within one full
day we were walking on the floor and all seemed well.
One of the first things we noticed after
several months was some sections of the flooring seemed to match in color and
other sections didn't. It became more pronounced monthly. I came to
realize the installers pulled all of the boards out of one box and laid them,
then started with another box. Instead of randomly pulling boards out of
different boxes to stagger the effect, our floor had large swatches of
off-colored boards in several areas. It looked like agricultural land from
30,000 feet. Remember, laminate flooring arrives pre-stained, right out of
the box, so we would have had to re-stain the entire floor to get a consistent
Several months after the work was
completed, I noticed some soft spots in the floor. I also began to hear a
popping noise as I stepped onto several areas. Unfortunately, these were
in high traffic areas, so I had to listen to it every day, a constant reminder
of our poor decision :-). I finally called the installer out and asked him
what was going on. He said because the concrete was not perfectly level,
there was an air pocket which caused the soft spot. The popping noise was
also caused by the sides of two pieces of the wood rubbing against each other in
this soft spot.
My next question was, "Why wasn't it
leveled properly and how how do we fix it?" He replied that it is very
difficult to perfectly level concrete and went on to say the only remedy was to
drill holes into the wood and insert more glue to hold down the wood. He
couldn't guarantee me that would stop the problem, but was willing to try.
I had by now lost all of my affection for glue down, laminate floors.
I recently heard a home improvement radio
show host talking about this exact same problem with a call-in listener.
He hit the nail on the head when he said "Glue, wood, and concrete just don't
mix. You just need to live with it". But we weren't through with our
After we installed our new, handscraped,
true hardwood floors in the back area of the home, we wanted to scrape and
re-stain the existing laminate floors to match. We were told that the
laminate wood was too thin to scrape, so those floors came back to bite us
My personal opinion is ... if you have the
choice between laminate flooring and true hardwoods, pay the extra money and go
with the true hardwoods. The true hardwoods are without question going to
add more value to your home, plus you can scrape, re-stain, or repair them
If you would like to see how true hardwood
floors are installed, just click