September 8, 2021
It wasn’t too long ago that Armstrong laminate flooring was sold alongside many of the best laminate flooring brands at stores everywhere. But a quick look at Armstrong’s US website will show an astonishing lack of laminate flooring—as in, you can’t find it at all.
So: what happened? Where did all of Armstrong’s laminate flooring go? Does Armstrong laminate flooring even exist in the first place? Don’t worry—in this article, we’re going to answer those very questions!
We’ll start off with a quick overview of laminate in general before diving into Armstrong’s recent legal troubles and how they’ve affected the company’s laminate offerings.
Then, we’ll give you a full rundown of Armstrong’s current laminate products (which, spoiler alert, can only be widely purchased in Australia and New Zealand) before wrapping up with some final notes.
There’s no time to waste—so let’s get started!
Let’s Go Over the Basics: What Is Laminate Flooring?
What is laminate flooring? The simple take: laminate is a type of faux wood flooring. It’s usually made of a fiberboard base layer, a photo-realistic image layer (that gives the floor its look), and a protective wear layer.
The photo layer allows laminate to mimic virtually all types of wood flooring. Whether you want laminate that looks like teak flooring or pine flooring, there’s a good chance that someone makes it. You can also find laminate that mimics stone and other types of tile, though it’s not quite as popular.
Also, since it’s generally considered a great DIY flooring choice, you can use laminate to mimic all sorts of wood floor patterns.
Is Laminate Flooring the Same as Engineered Hardwood Flooring?
While both materials are made to look like prefinished hardwood flooring, they’re actually quite different. To clear up any confusion, here’s a quick comparison of laminate vs. engineered hardwood.
First of all: laminate’s base is usually made of high-density fiberboard, while engineered hardwood uses plywood (which is stronger). Then, while laminate’s base layer is covered with an image layer and a wear layer, engineered wood’s base layer is covered with a veneer of real hardwood.
Translation: what is engineered hardwood? It’s real wood! Just not a solid block of it.
So why might buyers prefer to buy laminate if engineered wood is more “real”? Well, one of the biggest disadvantages of engineered wood is that it’s much more expensive than laminate.
This is true both for the cost to buy engineered hardwood and the cost to install engineered hardwood. Laminate usually runs between $2 and $4/sq. ft. while some of the best engineered hardwood floor brands can sell for double digits per square foot.
And since the best laminate flooring tends to look and function extremely well (and at a fraction of the cost of the best engineered wood flooring), many are content to choose laminate over engineered hardwood.
Armstrong Flooring: Company Overview
Armstrong Flooring is a major player in the flooring industry, but its reputation has taken a bit of a hit lately.
Only a few years ago, Armstrong made many different types of flooring—high-quality laminate, EVP flooring (rigid vinyl plank), even some of the best hardwood floors on the market. Now, they only produce one of these.
Armstrong’s Laminate Was Quite Popular
As we said, Armstrong used to be pretty well known for their laminate. Their products may not have been as popular as, say, Pergo TimberCraft or the different types of Shaw laminate flooring, but they were solidly in the top 10.
So Was Armstrong Laminate Flooring Discontinued? Well, That’s One Way to Put It…
Since you can’t find Armstrong laminate flooring in stores or online in the US anymore, does that mean it was discontinued? Sort of. It turns out that Armstrong actually got into some trouble with their laminate and quietly pulled it from their catalogs.
As It Turns Out, Armstrong Faced a Class Action Lawsuit Over Its Laminate
In 2016, Armstrong was sued because its laminate contained high levels of formaldehyde. This substance naturally appears in all wood products, including fiberboard, but Armstrong’s laminate blatantly violated CARB standards. It’s unclear how the suit was resolved, but since you can’t find Armstrong laminate flooring in the US, it likely didn’t end particularly well for the company.
Where Was Armstrong Laminate Flooring Made?
Armstrong laminate flooring was made in China, according to public records related to the lawsuit. While lots of high-quality flooring is made overseas, the factory that made Armstrong laminate flooring apparently didn’t get the memo.
Was Armstrong Laminate Flooring Safe? Well…
In short, no.
To be fair, Armstrong’s laminate flooring wasn’t marketed as low-VOC flooring or eco-friendly flooring, but the aforementioned lawsuit claimed that these products blew past safety standards (going the wrong direction, that is).
In contrast, the best laminate floor brands usually surpass these standards.
Note: formaldehyde is a VOC, or volatile organic compound. VOCs are harmful chemicals commonly found in factory-made products, and can be released into the air in a process called off-gassing.
Can You Still Buy Armstrong Laminate Flooring? Not In the US!
We’ve more or less covered this, but if it wasn’t clear: you can’t find Armstrong laminate flooring in the US anymore. You might be able to find used or unsold products at secondhand stores, but considering the excessive amounts of formaldehyde, we wouldn’t recommend purchasing these floors.
But Wait, Why Do Other Publications Review Armstrong Laminate Flooring?
If you do enough digging you might find a couple of articles from some (*cough*mediocre*cough*) flooring review sites that talk about Armstrong laminate flooring as if you could walk into a store and buy it.
The problem is that if you really read these articles (condolences!) you’ll realize they’re either incredibly full of it or very outdated. As we’ve mentioned before, Armstrong laminate isn’t sold in the US.
So: Is there Any Armstrong Laminate Flooring to Review?
If you’re looking for some Armstrong laminate flooring to get that wood floor bathroom look, is there no way to buy it? Well…
Technically, You Can Still Buy Armstrong Laminate Flooring—In Australia and New Zealand
If you visit Armstrong Flooring’s Australia website, you’ll find that Armstrong still sells two lines of laminate flooring, but only in Australia and New Zealand: Audacity and Rio Grandé. And because we know we do have readers from Oceania (hi there!) we’re going to give them an in-depth look.
Armstrong’s Audacity Laminate Line: An Australia and New Zealand Exclusive
Armstrong Audacity is marketed in Australia and New Zealand as water- and scratch-resistant flooring. The floor is seemingly on par with other popular laminate brands like Pergo and Shaw, and enjoys decent reviews. It’s also rated for full residential use and light commercial use.
One thing that’s suspiciously absent in Audacity’s marketing, though: there’s zero mention of formaldehyde or VOCs. Even if laminate isn’t the most environmentally-friendly flooring in general, you would think that Armstrong would want to highlight that Audacity is safe considering the company’s previous woes.
Where Can You Buy Armstrong Audacity?
Audacity laminate can only be bought from Flooring Xtra, much in the same way that SmartCore flooring can only be bought from Lowes in the US. And speaking of the US, it’s not exactly clear if (or how) US buyers can get their hands (or feet) on Audacity flooring.
How Much Does Armstrong Audacity Flooring Cost?
The cost of this Armstrong laminate flooring is unclear because Flooring Xtra doesn’t list prices on its website. However, reviews suggest Audacity’s price is comparable to budget laminate products like TrafficMaster flooring or Costco laminate flooring in the US.
If this is true, then buying Armstrong laminate is way cheaper than buying hardwood flooring (i.e. the real thing). Wood flooring costs a lot compared to, well, pretty much anything—it’s the reason there are so many hardwood floor alternatives out there!
Plus, it’s worth mentioning that the cost to install laminate flooring is usually much less than the cost to install hardwood.
Side note: one of the most common flooring predicaments is whether to have carpet or hardwood in a bedroom, which generally comes down to comfort and price vs. aesthetic. Since laminate is cheaper than hardwood and has an almost springy feeling like WPC flooring, some may see laminate like Audacity as a great alternative to carpet or hardwood (check out our carpet vs. laminate comparison if you’re curious).
Is It Durable? The Warranty Makes Us Think So
A good laminate can compete with the most durable wood flooring in terms of scratch resistance. According to its warranty (limited lifetime residential; 15-year light commercial), Audacity should handle anything but extremely heavy (i.e. commercial space-level) foot traffic on a regular basis.
So: yes, this Armstrong laminate flooring is pretty durable.
There Are 17 Styles Available
Cut-wise, all Audacity laminate mimics the look of wide-plank wood flooring.
In terms of wood floor colors, this Armstrong laminate flooring product hits all the staples. You can find Audacity laminate that mimics dark, neutral, and light wood floors, including products that mimic popular choices like oak and ash flooring.
However, you won’t find laminate that mimics hardwood species common to the US, like Douglas fir flooring. Exotics like ebony flooring are also a no-go.
Is Audacity Waterproof? No, But It Is Water-Resistant for Up to 72 Hours
Audacity isn’t waterproof laminate flooring per se, but it does perform similarly to water-resistant wood flooring. That is, if you spill some water on Audacity laminate, it should be fine so long as you clean it up within 72 hours (which is plenty of time, right?).
If you want true waterproof laminate flooring, AquaGuard flooring or Mohawk’s RevWood may be better alternatives. However, it’s important to remember that we’re comparing US and Australian markets here.
In any case, this Armstrong laminate line is great for mudroom flooring, but if you want something completely waterproof, you might want to consider one of those other laminate products above or a waterproof vinyl flooring product instead.
Oh and for context, waterproof (or even water-resistant) laminate is a cheaper alternative to waterproof hardwood flooring.
How Do You Install Armstrong Laminate Flooring?
All Armstrong laminate uses a click-together flooring system. In other words: Audacity laminate is a floating floor.
What is a floating floor? The term refers to an install method in which planks are placed directly atop the subflooring (or original floor) and more or less snapped together using special grooves in the side of each plank.
There aren’t many major floating floors disadvantages either. In fact, many floating floors can imitate all sorts of fun wood floor designs, including herringbone or chevron parquet flooring—it all depends on the click-together system.
All in all, this makes Audacity some of the easiest flooring to install. And remember, the cost to install laminate is generally much lower than the cost to install hardwood (and about the same as the cost to install vinyl plank flooring).
Are There Any Special Cleaning or Care Requirements for Audacity Flooring?
Audacity is marketed as “moppable laminate.” So no, there aren’t really any special care instructions for this type of Armstrong laminate flooring. The only thing we would avoid is bleaching it the way you might bleach wood floors (because it can ruin the floor’s wear layer).
Armstrong’s Rio Grandé Laminate Line: Another Australia and New Zealand Exclusive
The Rio Grandé line of Armstrong laminate flooring is intended for budget buyers. There are only 8 styles to choose from and it costs a little less than the Audacity line. And yes, they really put the accent mark over the “e”. We just work here.
Really, that’s all there is to say about it!
Is Armstrong Still in Business in the US?
While you can’t buy Armstrong laminate flooring in the US, the company sells a few different types of PVC (aka vinyl) flooring. In fact, Armstrong is still one of the best vinyl plank flooring brands around!
And Again, They Still Make Vinyl Flooring…
Like we said, you can still find different types of vinyl flooring in Armstrong’s catalogs, including peel-and-stick vinyl plank flooring, sheet vinyl flooring, VCT flooring, and best of all, rigid core luxury vinyl flooring. And those rigid core options come in both floating and glue down vinyl plank formats.
Armstrong’s rigid core vinyl largely enjoys good reviews and boasts similar performance to other vinyl plank brands. It’s cheaper than COREtec flooring (check out our COREtec flooring reviews for more info on that) and arguably better than big box store brands like LifeProof vinyl flooring.
Before we continue, we should note that while vinyl plank flooring has disadvantages, it boasts better water resistance than laminate does. If you’re looking for a wood-look bathroom or kitchen, vinyl may be the better choice (check out our vinyl plank vs. laminate comparison for an in-depth take).
…But They Sold Their Hardwood Flooring Business
Armstrong laminate flooring isn’t the only catalog casualty the company has had over the past few years. Armstrong’s wood floor division, which included Bruce (one of the best hardwood floor brands), was sold and rebranded as AHF Products.
Nowadays, Most of Armstrong’s (Remaining) Flooring Products Are Made in the USA
Okay, it’s probably more accurate to say that all the Armstrong flooring sold in the US is made in the US. It’s a little unclear where Armstrong laminate flooring is made.
It’s Possible That Armstrong Will Reintroduce Laminate to the US Market
Considering Armstrong laminate flooring used to be some of the best laminate flooring around—in terms of popularity, at least—it seems likely that the company will launch a new product line in the future (and hopefully it’s non-toxic laminate flooring this time).
Conclusion: Since You Literally Can’t Buy Armstrong Laminate Flooring in the US, Consider Other Laminate Brands
Even if you live in Australia or New Zealand, it’s hard to recommend Armstrong laminate flooring considering the company’s record with formaldehyde. To be frank, there are so many other great laminate flooring brands to consider that don’t have this issue.
Our advice: check out your local flooring stores and look for a different laminate brand, or even the low-VOC vinyl flooring if you’re not married to laminate. Or, if you’re still looking for flooring ideas, the articles below are a great place to start!
And either way, good luck on your flooring journey!