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The 11 Best Laminate Flooring Brands + Reviews (2022 Guide)

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Updated January 21, 2022

So you’re looking for the best laminate flooring, and you have some questions. 

Which products should you look for, and which should you avoid? What features should high-quality laminate have? And most importantly, what are the best laminate flooring brands to buy from? 

👉Want to skip straight to our best brands section? Click here.👈

Don’t worry, friend: we’ve got the answers. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about buying the best laminate flooring—plus, we’ve included updated laminate flooring reviews for 2022 so you know exactly which brands are right for you.

We’ll discuss laminate’s makeup, things to look for (and avoid) when buying it, how to install it, its pros and cons, and break down our list of the 11 best laminate flooring brands around. Finally, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the world of laminate flooring.

Ready to begin your laminate journey? Read on!

👉To skip straight to the best brands section, click here👈

Table of Contents

First off: What Is Laminate Flooring?

Seriously, what is laminate flooring? Easy: it’s a space-age fake wood flooring choice that’s been around for decades

More specifically, it’s a multi-layer composite of organic and synthetic materials that’s both durable and affordable. And while it’s usually made to mimic different types of wood flooring, it can also take the appearance of tile and stone, too.

Laminate was originally a budget flooring option designed to meet the demand created by an explosion in home ownership in the 1970s. This early laminate wasn’t exactly bad flooring, but it was generally perceived as a cheap knock-off of hardwood.

Today, the best laminate flooring products dramatically improve upon the original formula: they’re more durable, offer a more realistic look, and are still some of the most affordable types of flooring out there. 

In fact, if you compare modern laminate vs. hardwood floors, you’ll find that laminate is cheaper, easier to install, and in some cases, even more durable. Plus: it can look (and feel) just like the real thing.

What Are the Layers that Make Up Laminate Flooring?

We mentioned above that laminate is a multi-layer floor. And generally speaking, it’s composed of three main layers (though it depends on the product). From the bottom up, they are:

  • And a high-density fiberboard or wood composite base layer that gives the floor structure.
  • A photo-realistic image layer that gives the floor its look.
  • A transparent plasticate wear layer that protects the floor from damage.

Most laminate flooring requires an underlayment too, which can serve a few purposes, like sealing out moisture or providing a more comfortable underfoot feel. 

And of course, many manufacturers add their own special features to the floor—an attached backing or underlayment, UV-resistant coatings, etc.

Cross section of laminate flooring

The Best Laminate Flooring for Your Space

Before we dive deep into laminate and the best laminate flooring brands, let’s look at some of the top choices for your home.

Best Overall Laminate Flooring: Newton

Best Waterproof Laminate Flooring: RevWood

Best Budget Laminate Flooring: Tarkett

Most Sustainable Laminate Flooring: Newton

Best Laminate Flooring for Kitchens: Shaw

Best Laminate Flooring for Basements: Pergo

Best Laminate Flooring for Living Rooms: Mannington Mills

We’ll go into a ton of detail on each of these brands below; click here to get straight into the brand deep dives!

Qualities to Look For in the Best Laminate Flooring

The best laminate flooring products will generally boast higher-quality materials and a more robust design. Here are the features you should look for.

When it Comes to the Base Layer, Thickness Matters

The base (or “core”) layer of most laminate flooring is made of high-density fiberboard (HDF)—super-compressed wood fibers that are held together with some type of bonding agent. 

There’s a pretty big correlation between positive laminate flooring reviews and thicker base layers, so the thicker the HDF, the better. Laminate flooring with a 12mm base layer is ideal, but even 7–8mm is good too—especially in areas that receive less foot traffic.

The Image Layer Should Offer a Ton of Variation 

The best laminate flooring products offer a huge selection of wood floor colors, designs, and patterns. In fact, quality laminate can mimic just about any hardwood species your heart desires. 

However: looking great out of the box isn’t enough. If your floor doesn’t offer enough variation in pattern—in other words, differently-patterned planks—you’ll start noticing repeated patterns in your floor. 

While this doesn’t sound too bad, it can subconsciously tell your eye that what you’re looking at isn’t the genuine thing. A fair few laminate flooring reviews mention this—and that the more they looked at their floors, the less real those floors appeared. A high-variation product can avoid this issue.

High-Quality Wear Layers are Absolutely Necessary

The best laminate flooring brands use high-quality wear layers that repel stains and damage. Virtually every brand offers its own wear layer formula, but you’ll commonly see compounds like polyurethane and like aluminum oxide mentioned.

The thing to really look out for though is the abrasion class rating, or AC rating, which ranges from AC1 to AC5. The higher a laminate product ranks on this scale, the more its wear layer can handle.

Big Takeaway: The Higher the AC Rating, the More Durable the Wear Layer

Here’s how the abrasion class rating system breaks down:

  • AC1 is only intended for light use, like closet space.
  • AC2 is rated for light general use, like in guest bedrooms. 
  • AC3 is recommended for general residential use.
  • AC4 is what you’ll find in most scratch-resistant flooring—it generally offers the best value for homes.
  • The very best laminate flooring will either have an AC5 rating. This is made for heavy commercial use and is super scratch-resistant.

The Best Laminate Flooring Brands Mimic Texture, Too

Looking like real hardwood is good—but feeling like real hardwood is better. That’s why many of the best laminate flooring brands sell products that are textured or embossed to feel just like actual hardwood. 

Experts can usually tell the difference, but these days, the average person shouldn’t be able to easily differentiate between prefinished hardwood flooring and high-quality laminate flooring planks. If you can (and if you’re not a flooring expert), it might be time to look for a different product.

Products to Avoid if You Want the Best Laminate Flooring

Low-end laminate flooring is easy to spot in person. The appearance is pretty uninspiring, it might look plastic-y, and you’re likely to notice a repeating pattern right away. 

That being said, some brands have gotten pretty good at making laminate appear high quality… when it’s anything but. So: if you’re perusing laminate flooring reviews, here some red flags to look out for.

A Thin Base Layer Isn’t Usually a Good Base Layer

It depends on the product, but in general, a thinner base layer isn’t the way to go. Less of a core means less stability. And less stability means less comfort—and more issues with warping. Our advice? Avoid base layers under 7mm thick.

If you buy your laminate at a reputable flooring store with good reviews, you might be able to find some thinner planks that still give good quality. But it’s not the norm.

Avoid Generic Wear Layers

If a laminate flooring brand doesn’t say anything about its wear layer—especially its AC rating or what it’s made of—it’s not because they forgot. It’s because they don’t want you to know.

We call this a “lie of omission”, and if you’ve read our Stainmaster luxury vinyl review, you’ll know it’s relatively common in the flooring world.

If There’s a Poor AC Rating, Skip It

A low AC rating, or a lack of verification on the AC rating, is also a red flag. Again: if a company doesn’t say anything about their AC rating (even if you go looking for it in the fine print of their website) it’s usually because they don’t want you knowing it.

Most of the best laminate flooring brands will have at least something about their products’ AC rating if you search for them. And as you might imagine, laminate flooring reviews for products that don’t specify these ratings are… not great.

How Do You Install Laminate Flooring?

Readers looking for do-it-yourself flooring are in luck: laminate flooring is easy to install. The three most common installation methods are:

Most homeowners choose to hire professionals just to ensure their floors look pristine or to abide by warranty policies, but the average DIY-savvy buyer should be able to install these floors without too many problems.

Many of The Best Laminate Flooring Brands Use a Click-Lock System

If you’ve searched for laminate flooring before, you might have run across the terms “UniClic” or “snap-lock”, which are just fancy terms for click-together flooring

Many of the best laminate flooring brands use click-together systems because they’re super easy (and cheaper) to install. These planks simply use special grooves to snap together like puzzle pieces, creating so-called floating floors (because they “float” above a subfloor rather than being attached to it).

installing click together laminate
Installing click-together laminate over a soft underlayment

While floating floors do have some disadvantages, they’re more convenient to use, easier to replace, and most of the time, way cheaper to install. The only floor that might be easier is loose lay vinyl plank flooring (or some sort of magnetic flooring, but that’s another thing entirely). 

And Laminate Often Needs an Underlayment, Too (So Don’t be Put Off By That!)

Underlayment separates your flooring from your subflooring (what is subflooring?), which is usually made of wood or concrete. It protects the surface from moisture damage, but it can also prevent floors from sounding hollow or feeling too hard underfoot.

Some products will come with a pre-attached underlayment—but even if they don’t, underlayment usually isn’t too expensive.

Nail, Staple, and Glue-Down Floors are Pretty Standard

If you don’t opt for a click-together floating installation, you’ll still have all the normal floor installation options—so don’t worry too much one way or another. The big takeaway here: floating floors are not low-quality, so buy whatever product works for you!

What Are the Pros and Cons of Laminate Flooring?

The best laminate flooring is affordable, durable, and can mimic hardwoods like teak flooring or types of tile like marble or granite. But: it can’t all be good, right? Laminate must have some shortcomings! Well, yes and no. Here’s how it breaks down.

The Advantages of Laminate Flooring

Even the Best Laminate Flooring Is Affordable

Laminate flooring generally ranges between $1 and $6 per square foot, with the best laminate floors generally occupying the higher end of that scale. 

For comparison, some of the best hardwood floors start at $10 per square foot. Then you have to factor in installation, which can drastically increase your total wood flooring cost.

The cost to install laminate depends on the method, but rarely exceeds a few dollars per square foot. That doesn’t even approach the cost to buy and install hardwood.

Installing Laminate Flooring Is Easy

Since laminate flooring can be installed as a floating floor, you don’t really need any experience to install it properly. Even if you choose a staple or glue-down method, the process is more tedious than it is difficult.

Laminate Flooring Reviews Say It’s (Mostly) Easy to Care for

Most laminate flooring reviews will note that it’s especially easy to care for. Use a vacuum or microfiber duster (or something similar) for cleaning and you’re golden.

The Best Laminate Flooring Brands Offer Tons of Design Options

The best laminate flooring brands offer loads of tile and wood floor designs. Whether you want ash flooring, ebony flooring, or can’t decide between hickory vs. oak (or almost any other species), fret not—there’s a laminate option out there for you. 

Plus, laminate flooring lets you experience these styles without having to deal with their odd quirks. For example, the pros and cons of hickory flooring include sporadic grain and color patterns, a difficult installation, and a high cost. Hickory-look floors skip the bad and keep the good: a more even grain pattern, fast and easy installation, and a much lower price.

You Can Even Get Unique Patterns Too, Like Wide-Plank or Mixed-Width Looks

Nowadays, your laminate flooring isn’t limited to traditional horizontal planks—you can find it in less-common appearances, too. 

We’re not just talking about the mixed-width strips and wide-plank wood flooring looks that are so popular with today’s homeowners, either. It can even be purchased in herringbone, chevron, and other parquet flooring patterns as well.

It’s Also Very Durable (Even if You Don’t Get the Best Laminate Product)

Does the best laminate flooring stack up against the most durable wood flooring, or even super-hardy wood alternatives like concrete flooring that looks like wood? Maybe.

Is it as strong as concrete? Probably not. But it is very durable in its own right. Quality laminate won’t easily succumb to heavy traffic, scratches, or dents. And at its price point, it’s arguably one of the most cost-effective solutions for durability. But, you know—expectations.

Allergy-Friendly: Laminate Flooring Doesn’t Trap Dust

Bear with us for a moment. We know the “carpet vs. laminate” debate isn’t exactly common since they’re very different surfaces. But, that conversation does bring up a pretty good point: dust that gets trapped by carpet is easily swept away on laminate flooring.

This is a huge benefit for allergy-sufferers that won’t have to worry (as much) about their homes setting off rampant bouts of sneezing, coughing, and obsessive itchiness.

Translation: if you have hay fever but are wary of the cost to replace carpet with hardwood, laminate is a great alternative. The same goes for buyers trying to decide between carpet or hardwood in the bedroom!

The Best Laminate Flooring Is Comfortable

Note our word choice: the best laminate flooring is comfortable. Run-of-the-mill laminate flooring reviews sometimes mention that it can be pretty stiff to walk on. The best laminate floor brands, on the other hand, often make adjustments to their products (like spongy pre-attached underlayments or different base layers), to account for this.

And Some of the Best Laminate Brands Now Offer Waterproof Floors

Seriously! For a long time, some brands marketed their laminate floors as water-resistant (with dubious success). But now, certain brands have perfected their waterproof laminate flooring—we’ll talk about that in more detail in our best brands section.

Laminate Is Decently Eco-Friendly

If you want eco-friendly flooring, laminate flooring isn’t a terrible option. While it is a composite and uses adhesives and plastics in its construction, it still uses a lot more naturally-derived materials than, say, vinyl flooring. 

But unless you’re considering a totally natural material (like the best cork flooring or hemp flooring), you could definitely do worse on the green flooring spectrum.

The Disadvantages of Laminate Flooring

Like any floor, laminate does have some less-enjoyable characteristics. Fortunately, many of these flaws belong to cheaper laminate offerings and don’t affect higher-quality products. 

Basically, if you read enough laminate flooring reviews (and we read a lot of them), you’ll notice a pattern: you really get what you pay for.

Low-Quality Laminate Flooring Can Look Unnatural or Fake

Products from the best laminate brands can look remarkably realistic. Products from lower-end brands… not so much. The worst offenders tend to look overly glossy and have frequently-repeated wood floor patterns that make them look fake and plastic-y.

Laminate Flooring Can Sound Hollow (Though it Really Depends on the Underlayment)

In all fairness, the noise laminate flooring makes really depends on its underlayment. Hollow sounds come from hollow spaces: if there’s a gap of air between the floor and subfloor (even the tiny one that’s present in floating floors), footsteps will be louder. That said, a proper underlayment can fix this problem pretty easily.

Laminate Can Also Feel Hard Underfoot

Some laminate flooring reviews complain that the product can be pretty stiff—not on the same level as concrete or SPC flooring, but hard nonetheless. 

Again, there’s an easy fix for this: buy a good underlayment (if your floor doesn’t come with one already). And of course, the best laminate floor brands usually have a solution to it already.

Not Even the Best Laminate Flooring Complain Can Be Refinished or Repaired

Laminate flooring is durable, but it’s not indestructible. And if you damage it, you can’t repair or refinish it. This is one of the few spots where hardwood has a clear advantage.

However, since laminate flooring comes in planks, you can replace the broken pieces without having to replace the entire floor. While annoying, the cost to replace a few planks is lower than the cost to refinish an entire hardwood floor.

It’s Also Susceptible to Moisture Damage 

If water penetrates laminate flooring’s wear layer, the photo layer can be ruined and the HDF layer can absorb the water and warp. It’s not immediate, but it can happen.

For this reason, we don’t generally recommend most laminate products for mudroom flooring or anywhere dirt and liquid are constant. 

We know what you’re thinking, “what about the ‘waterproof’ brands?” With one notable exception, we’ll discuss below, most laminate products are only water-resistant and constant exposure can still result in serious damage. 

Of course, these options are okay for kitchen or bathroom use provided that you clean up spills quickly.

It’s Easy to Stain Some of the Best Laminate Flooring Brands

There are a lot of laminate flooring reviews that point out how susceptible laminate is to staining. This most likely comes down to the wear layer breaking down over time. 

The good news: the best laminate flooring brands usually use wear layers that last longer and withstand staining better. However, even these may become vulnerable after years of abuse, so we recommend caring for your floors regularly to maintain wear layer quality.

Even the Best Laminate Flooring Brands Don’t Always Offer Great Resale Value

In many circles, even if it’s no longer true, laminate is still held back by its history as a budget option. Unfortunately, this means that it has a limited appeal to some potential buyers, hurting resale value. 

Some top laminate flooring brands may escape this unfair title, but you’re more likely to gain back an investment with authentic hardwood.

Laminate Flooring Can Contain VOCs

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are dangerous gasses that are released by adhesives, plastics, and other manmade materials—including floors.

The adhesive agents that bond laminate’s different layers can contain and release VOCs—in fact, Lumber Liquidators was recently forced to pay a $33 settlement for selling consumers low-quality laminate packed with formaldehyde, a well-known VOC. 

However: low-VOC flooring is becoming the norm, and all the best brands sell exclusively non-toxic laminate flooring. The real lesson here: don’t buy shoddy products from shoddy box stores.

And It’s Usually Not Fully Biodegradable

Laminate is more of an environmentally-friendly flooring choice than some other hardwood alternatives (vinyl, we’re looking at you). But: since it’s not entirely organic, it won’t fully biodegrade. 

Simply put, if you want entirely biodegradable flooring, you should opt for a sustainable wood floor instead. There’s just no way around it.

Finally, Laminate Shouldn’t Be Installed Outside

Laminate flooring can go almost anywhere inside your home, but it would never make a list of outdoor flooring options. It’s simply not intended for outdoor use because the HDF can warp with temperature changes or exposure to the elements. 

The best laminate flooring brands, with a good wear layer, may be okay to use for (indoor) sunroom flooring—as long as the manufacturer gives it the green light.

What Are the Best Laminate Flooring Brands?

Ok! Let’s jump into the main event. What are the top laminate flooring brands of 2022?

#1: Newton

Best Overall Value | $3.00–$5.00/sq. ft.

Dark wood laminate planks from Newton in a living room shot from below
Courtesy of Newton

Newton’s motto, according to their website, is “Brilliant Floors, Intelligently Priced”. And when it comes to their laminate products, they live up to it.

The company’s laminate floors are robust, beautiful, and offer the best durability for your dollar of any brand on this list. Plus, many of their collections are entirely waterproof.

But unlike many of the other brands on this list, Newton doesn’t stuff their product descriptions with cool-sounding buzzwords and branded descriptors to try and sound impressive (check out the brand below to see what we mean). Rather, they focus on making really good products whose quality speaks for itself.

Oh, and it’s very much worth mentioning that all Newton laminate is made in Europe, so you don’t have to worry about them containing VOC and formaldehyde. The majority of the other brands on this list source their products from China and Southeast Asia.

Newton’s Laminate Offerings

Newton offers 11 different collections of laminate flooring with almost 50 style options in total. Best of all, 5 of these collections are completely waterproof for up to 24 hours.

You won’t find many specific hardwood species in Newton’s product listings—rather, they organize their products by look. That said, all Newton laminate products are textured for enhanced realism, which is something you don’t usually see with budget-friendly laminate flooring—even from bigger companies.

We would also note that Newton offers some really beautiful patterns you also don’t see very often with laminate products—we’re talking chevron parquet, marble looks, things like that.

Newton Laminate’s Cost | $$

Newton laminate isn’t available from nationwide chains (only local flooring stores that meet the company’s standards for expertise and customer satisfaction, according to their representatives), so pinning down an exact price is difficult. Still, we’re told that the majority of Newton’s laminate retailers sell their products for an extremely reasonable $3–$5/sq. ft. or so.

Compared to similar products like Shaw’s Repel (which we discuss further down), which can retail up to a whopping $7/sq. ft., Newton is an absolute bargain. Hence our giving it the “best overall value” moniker.

Newton Laminate’s Durability | 4.5/5

Newton is very upfront about their product specs, which we really appreciate—unlike most of the brands we discuss here, they actually list their AC ratings on their website.

And on the subject of AC ratings: almost all of Newton’s products sport a super-robust AC4 wear layer, which is rated for commercial-level foot traffic. A single collection is AC3-rated, which is approved for the highest possible residential traffic.

Newton Laminate’s Warranty | 4.5/5

Newton’s warranty is solid across the board—limited lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects, fading, etc. Plus, all products come with a minimum 20-year warranty for wear, though most collections sport a limited lifetime warranty for this (which is impressive). Even more impressive? Some Newton products even sport a commercial warranty (relatively rare for laminate).

Translation: this stuff will hold really well in your home.

Which Newton Laminate Product Offers the Best Value?

Considering the price, we’d say that all of Newton’s laminate products offer great value!

#2: Shaw Industries

Superior Durability, But at a High Price Point | $4.50–$7/sq. ft.

Shaw Laminate Living Room
Courtesy of Shaw

Shaw, the second-largest flooring company in the world, is yet another staple in the flooring industry. And to be frank, Shaw laminate flooring products would be closer to the top of our best laminate flooring brands list if they weren’t way more expensive than our previous entries.

Shaw’s Laminate Offerings

Shaw offers around 200 styles and colors of laminate flooring—but like Pergo, they only offer wood looks. 

Unlike Pergo, though, Shaw laminate flooring offers a large selection (about 100 different options) of non-standard and mixed-width boards to fit in with contemporary flooring trends. 

Shaw doesn’t differentiate its collections based on how “premier” they are. Rather, they do so based on plank size. To that end, their collections are:

  • Repel (standard width + water-resistant)
  • Long Board (extra-long planks; currently unavailable on Shaw’s website)
  • Mixed Width (exactly what it sounds like + not water-resistant)

Shaw Laminate’s Cost | $$$

Compared to other laminate flooring brands, Shaw’s price point is pretty high. With products costing up to $7 per square foot, that can be a little steep for some floor buyers. You could argue that it’s worth it though—Shaw laminate flooring is tough.

Speaking of which…

Shaw Laminate’s Durability | 4/5

Here’s the thing—these floors are super durable according to Shaw laminate flooring reviews. But Shaw doesn’t list an official AC rating on their website for any of their laminate products. The reviews plus their great warranty suggest supreme durability, but without any AC rating, we can’t confirm. 

Shaw’s laminate is arguably the most durable of the entries on this list, but it’s at least a dollar more per square foot than RevWood and Pergo’s laminate. 

Shaw also guarantees that its premier line can withstand water damage for a full day; Pergo neglects to mention a timetable at all.  

Shaw Laminate’s Warranty | 4/5

Shaw’s standard warranty is quite good—and no surprise, given its durability. It doesn’t cover accidental damage (which is normal), though the limited lifetime warranty lasts as long as the product was installed correctly. 

But: that limited lifetime warranty is for both residential and commercial applications, which makes it the most robust warranty on the list as far as scratch and wear resistance is concerned. And that’s a good thing, given that it’s essentially impossible to find any current info on the product’s AC rating.

Which Shaw Laminate Product Offers the Best Value?

Given that Shaw doesn’t differentiate their products based on price tiers, it’s hard to pick a “best value” option. That being said, we’d probably go with Repel thanks to its water-resistant characteristics. Shaw laminate flooring reviews are especially positive for that line, too.

#3: Mannington Mills

Sustainable, Low-VOC, and USA-Made | $3.40–$3.70/sq. Ft.

Mannington Laminate with Dogs
Courtesy of Mannington

Mannington makes some pretty fantastic laminate flooring. It’s American-made, it’s decently water-resistant, and it’s made from 70% recycled content (and FloorScore-certified as low in VOCs).

If its reviews mentioned it was a tad more scratch-resistant, it would be a little higher on the list.

Mannington’s Laminate Offerings

Currently, Mannington only offers one collection of laminate flooring called the Restoration Collection

Some other publications (cough) have outdated info on this and still claim Mannington is offering multiple laminate collections. But again, they now sell all of their laminates via their Restoration Collection.

Luckily, this collection is big. You can find multiple lines and styles within it, totaling over 60 different options and looks including several parquet styles.

One oddity, though: Mannington claims on their site they offer laminate in both wood and tile looks, but when you actually look through all of their products… there are no tile options to be found.

Mannington Laminate’s Cost | $$

With such a vast collection, it’s pretty surprising that Mannington laminate flooring costs don’t have much of a range. With products costing $3.40–$3.70 per square foot, the starting price point is a bit higher than brands like RevWood and Pergo—but they’re still pretty affordable.

Mannington Laminate’s Durability | 4/5

Mannington’s products come with something called SpillShield Plus Waterproof Technology. While calling this waterproof might be a bit of a stretch (there are some Mannington laminate reviews that mention it’s better at resisting spills than standing water), it is a great alternative if you don’t want to go the Newton or RevWood route.

Plus, it boasts a super-strong AC4 Rating.

Mannington Laminate’s Warranty | 3/5

This product offers a decent warranty—limited lifetime, plus a 5-year commercial warranty (barring the normal exceptions and exclusions).

However, if you find any manufacturer defects, you need to report them quickly; the window is only open for the 6 months after purchase.

Which Mannington Laminate Products Offer the Best Value?

Again, Mannington only offers one collection—so you really can’t go wrong.

#4: AquaGuard by Floor & Decor

Reasonably Waterproof, Very Durable | $2.50–$4.00/sq. ft. 

AquaGuard Laminate
Courtesy of Floor & Decor

AquaGuard laminate flooring is exclusively sold by Floor & Decor, and if that gives you pause, we understand. Floor & Decor is a box store (not usually a good sign) and sells another in-house brand with notably “mixed” results: NuCore flooring—which is a very (ahem) “budget” LVP line.

But: AquaGuard is, if you believe the internet’s laminate flooring reviews, a decently durable product that’s reasonably waterproof.

AquaGuard’s Laminate Offerings

Not to be confused with their AquaGuard Wood line (which is a type of water-resistant wood flooring), Floor & Decor’s AquaGuard Laminate comes in one single collection. 

It’s available almost entirely in wood-look styles and primarily in conventional plank shapes (though there are some parquet options too) with one notable exception—a single fun, funky, tile look we love.

AquaGuard Laminate’s Cost | $$

Everything about AquaGuard is solid—it’s a decent floor at a decent price. In fact, $4.00 per square foot for a laminate with commercial-grade durability is not bad at all.

AquaGuard Laminate’s Durability | 4/5

Wondering how a box store product made it on our list of best laminate floor brands? Wonder no more—nearly every one of Floor & Decor’s AquaGuard offerings has a massive AC5 Rating

And while AquaGuard isn’t as waterproof as, say, RevWood, it is water-resistant in standing water for up to 30 hours.

AquaGuard Laminate’s Warranty | 4/5

It’s probably no surprise given its super-high AC rating, but AquaGuard has a great warranty when it comes to damage—limited lifetime and 15 year light commercial. Wowser.

Just be aware: every year after the date of purchase, the company’s warranty covers less and less. This quality is shared by a good number of other warranties, though, so it’s not a dealbreaker. That said—and again, this is pretty common—many of the company’s negative laminate flooring reviews mention voided warranties due to installation and other fine-print issues. 

Which AquaGuard Laminate Product Offers the Best Value?

With only one collection to choose from, any of these products is a good bet.

#5: Bruce

The Resurrected Laminate Brand | Pricing TBA

Bruce laminate is back! After years without a laminate product, Bruce (which is owned by AHF products, one of the best hardwood floor brands in the world) recently announced the release of a new laminate line called TimberTru.

And by “they announced it recently”, we mean really recently—as in mid-August 2021. To that end, we don’t have any word on pricing just yet—but that information will be added to this guide as it’s released to the public. The same goes for photos of the floors once they’ve been installed.

Bruce’s Laminate Offerings

TimberTru comes in two different collections: Basic Wonders and Natural World.

  • Basic Wonders is 8mm thick and sports an AC3 rating.
  • Natural World is 12mm thick and sports an AC4 rating.

Obviously, Natural World is the more robust of these two options. However, choices are currently limited (which, to be fair, should come as no surprise given the fact that these products haven’t even hit the market yet). Natural World is offered in 9 different colors/patterns, while Basic Wonders is only offered in 3.

Oh, and it’s definitely worth noting: both of these collections are made in the USA.

Bruce Laminate Cost | TBD

Bruce’s laminate products are still so new to the market that it’s hard to nail down (or glue down—flooring jokes, people!) a consistent price. If you’re interested, we recommend contacting your local flooring store to see if they carry TimberTru products.

Bruce Laminate’s Durability | 3/5

As we mentioned before, an AC3 rating is fine for general residential use. It won’t win any awards for durability, but it’ll be just fine in a home with normal foot traffic. That said, Natural World’s more robust AC4 rating means it can be used in light commercial settings as well.

The only thing of concern here is Basic Wonders’ thickness (or lack thereof). While plank thickness doesn’t matter as far as scratch resistance is concerned, it can play a role in overall sturdiness and longevity. And 8mm isn’t particularly thick.

One final thing worth noting: Bruce mentions that both of these products have “top-down” water resistance for up to 24 hours. While some people (including Bruce) say that qualifies TimberTru as waterproof laminate flooring, we… would say it’s more like water-resistant laminate. “Top-down” means the planks are only protected from above—if water gets between the seams, that’s it for the floor.

Bruce Laminate’s Warranty | 3/5

Basic Wonders comes with a 30-year residential warranty and no commercial warranty (not a surprise given its AC rating).

Natural World comes with a 50-year residential warranty and a 5-year commercial warranty.

Which Bruce Laminate Product Offers the Best Value?

To be entirely honest, neither of these products or warranties seem amazing, but a lot will depend on how much they cost. If Bruce chooses to sell TimberTru at a lower price point, Natural World could be a really attractive option.

Given the cost to install laminate flooring, it doesn’t make much sense to put down a floor that’s going to need to be redone in a couple of years anyway—so we usually err on the side of “go with the more durable product”.

#6: Tarkett

Not Amazing, Not Terrible | $1.00–$3.25/sq. ft.

Tarkett is relatively new to the US laminate market, but well established in Europe. Tarkett’s products are engineered and built with sustainability in mind, and all their collections are certified as low-VOC. 

The company offers 6 different laminate collections: 

  • Easy Line
  • Essentials
  • Lamin’art 
  • Welcome 
  • Woodstock
  • Long Boards 

All of the products in Tarkett’s collections are 8mm thick with AC4 ratings, except the Long Boards collection—that one’s 9mm thick (an extra millimeter!) with an AC4 rating.

There are also a few products exclusive to Menards, including the popular AquaFlor and Grovewood lines. 

Tarkett Laminate Cost | $

The top end of these products may max out at over $3 per square foot, but the lower end of Tarkett laminate flooring makes it one of the cheaper options on this list. 

Tarkett Laminate’s Durability | 2/5

AquaFlor is decent—it’s guaranteed for 24-hour moisture resistance—but it doesn’t stack up to some of the other options on this list.

To that end, the (surprisingly) few Tarkett laminate flooring reviews that are easily found are relatively mixed. Tarkett seems to be content in the budget floor realm—at least in the US—and aside from a lack of styles, the biggest complaints seem to target their floors’ quality. 

Tarkett Laminate’s Warranty | 3/5

Tarkett’s warranties vary between different collections. The super-budget laminate products have 20–25 year residential warranties, with no commercial warranty (since they aren’t durable enough for commercial purposes).

Higher-end products are slightly better, with 25 year–lifetime residential warranties and 5–15 year commercial warranties.

#7: Allen and Roth by Lowes

Your Typical Box Store Brand | $1.50–$2.30/sq. ft.

Allen and Roth laminate flooring is Lowes’ in-house brand. And annoyingly for us humanities majors, the company stylizes it as “allen + roth”. 

There’s only one Allen and Roth laminate collection, with 31 products in total (that are available on the Lowes website, at least). Some are 8mm thick, some are 12. To our eye, this difference doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on price (or quality)—there are several 12mm options that are cheaper than their 8mm counterparts. 

Allen and Roth Laminate Cost | $

Like many big-box store brands, Allen and Roth laminate is going to be noticeably cheaper than some other options. But low prices like that usually come… at a price (we know, we couldn’t resist).

A top-end price of $2.30 per square foot means this isn’t a complete “budget floor”, but it’s by no means going to break the bank.

Allen and Roth Laminate Durability | 2/5

The laminate offerings here have a pretty even 50-50 split as far as AC ratings—about half of the products have an AC4 wear layer, the rest of them are rated AC3. That’s pretty good! But complaints about Allen and Roth’s laminate durability don’t quite paint the same picture.

Allen and Roth is Lowes’ brand name for everything, and their laminate floor reviews on Lowes.com are mostly positive. But: off-site reviews frequently complain that the floor is easily scratched—which, if you’ve read our SmartCore flooring review, shouldn’t come as a huge shock.

Allen and Roth Laminate Warranty | 2.5/5

Allan and Roth laminate products have a minimum 30-year limited residential warranty, with some lines offering a limited lifetime residential warranty. No commercial warranties here—the product isn’t graded for commercial use.

#8: LifeProof by Home Depot

Pretty Much What You’d Expect from Home Depot | $2.00–$2.25/sq. ft.

The first of two Home Depot exclusives, LifeProof laminate seems to be the “premier” option next to TrafficMaster (see below). However, if our review of LifeProof vinyl flooring is any indication, Home Depot’s “premier” laminate flooring probably isn’t as premier as they claim.

In total, there are 20 different products available here. Each is 12mm thick with various widths and styles, and none of them offer any sort of attached underlayment or any other special features.

LifeProof Laminate Cost | $$

A price of $2.59 per square foot doesn’t make LifeProof that much more expensive than other laminate brands this far down the list. But with a starting point of $2.00 per square foot, it’s not exactly a “bargain brand”, either.

LifeProof Laminate Durability | 3/5

Non-Home-Depot-website LifeProof laminate flooring reviews are also pretty scarce, so you have to take Home Depot’s word for its quality. Again, pretty much what you’d expect.

To that end, all of the LifeProof laminate products have an AC4 durability rating. Compared to some other big-box brands, that’s pretty good!

LifeProof Laminate Warranty | 2/5

So how is Home Depot’s LifeProof laminate warranty? Actually not bad! Each of these products have a limited lifetime residential warranty. And since they’re graded for commercial use, LifeProof laminate floors also have a 7-year light commercial warranty.

The lower rating comes from some of the feedback we’ve seen on Home Depot actually honoring these warranties. 

#9: TrafficMaster by Home Depot

Probably Not Worth The (Very Small) Price | $0.50–$2.00/sq. Ft.

TrafficMaster laminate is… well, it’s technically a laminate floor! There’s just one collection here, with 41 different designs—all of which come in thicknesses of 7 or 8 millimeters. 

TrafficMaster Laminate Cost | $

You’re not reading that wrong—Home Depot’s TrafficMaster laminate starts at just $.50 per square foot. As you might expect, that comes with a major drop in quality.

TrafficMaster Laminate Durability | 1/5

Home Depot’s TrafficMaster flooring sells like it’s one of the best laminate flooring brands, but it has more to do with its low price than its quality. All but a few of these products have an AC3 durability rating, with only a handful creeping up to AC4. Those are decent ratings, but reviews suggest these products are definitely not as durable as other AC4-rated laminates.

TrafficMaster does offer a boatload of different styles, but offsite reviews seem to suggest that the floor only has a 5- to 10-year lifespan, if that. 

TrafficMaster Laminate Warranty | 1/5

And as you might expect with a flooring of this (low) quality, the warranty is nothing to write home about. TrafficMaster laminate flooring offers just a 15-year residential warranty.

Unless you’re looking for a very temporary floor, this is one to skip.

#10: AquaSeal and DreamHome by LL Flooring (aka Lumber Liquidators)

The Patient Zero of Toxic Flooring | $0.50–$2.25/sq. ft.

If you didn’t catch it when we mentioned it above, a few years ago, LL Flooring (formerly known as Lumber Liquidators) was caught selling low-quality laminate that was absolutely packed with formaldehyde (way over the legal limit).

The company was forced to pay a $33 million settlement and ended up changing its name to try and escape the negative press.

So: you’ll see why we’re not keen to promote this company’s laminate. Speaking of which, LL Flooring offers 3 laminate product lines:

  • Dream Home, which carries 29 design options.
  • Dream Home XD (a specific section of the Dream Home collection), which offers 15 styles.
  • AquaSeal, the water-resistant collection with 42 different styles.

AquaSeal and Dream Home Laminate Costs | $

With a price tag that starts at about 50 cents per square foot, Dream Home is clearly targeting budget buyers—and surprise surprise, most reviews are pretty negative. 

Dream Home XD and AquaSeal products top out at $2.25—not overly pricey, but a bit more expensive (and more durable) than regular ol’ Dream Home. For a full breakdown of AquaSeal flooring, check out our AquaSeal flooring review.

AquaSeal and Dream Home Laminate Durability | 2/5

The biggest complaint: Dream Home seems to be made with subpar materials and degrades quickly. These products are AC3-rated for residential use. Its premier laminate lines, Dream Home XD and AquaSeal, are certified low-VOC and cost closer to $2.00 per square foot—but don’t do much to address the common durability issues they share with Dream Home. The AC ratings on Dream Home XD and AquaSeal are a bit better—they have AC4-rated wear layers.

AquaSeal and Dream Home Laminate Warranties | 2.5/5

So how are the warranties for these product lines? Surprisingly okay! Many AquaSeal products offer a lifetime limited residential warranty (but no commercial warranty). 

And Dream Home’s warranties vary pretty widely, with product lines offering anywhere from 10-year to lifetime limited residential warranties (but again, no commercial warranties available).

#11: Armstrong

No Longer Making Laminate for the US Market | NA

Armstrong Laminate Price | NA

Ok, so hear us out. We had to include Armstrong flooring on this list because:

  1. Not all of our readers are based in the USA (hi there, non-Americans!)—and Armstrong still sells laminate in Australia and New Zealand.
  2. Armstrong is an extremely well-known flooring manufacturer. And that means lots of people assume they sell laminate, try to find it, and get frustrated when they can’t.
  3. The company used to sell laminate in the US (and some listings are still kicking around the internet), which makes things even more confusing for floor buyers.

But again: Armstrong no longer sells laminate flooring in North America.

Why? Well, it’s a bit murky. Best we can tell, there were some issues with product compliance—so rather than try and rebrand, they just scrapped their laminate offerings.

Armstrong Laminate Durability | NA

That said, the company’s laminate offerings in Australia and New Zealand (which are separated into two collections, called Audacity and Rio Grande, respectively) seem to be relatively decent—though actual reviews are few and far between.

Like we said, it’s hard to figure this out if you’re not an industry insider. Aside from a couple of blog posts, like this one that ironically explains how to choose their laminate flooring, there’s nary a mention of laminate on Armstrong’s North American website. 

Armstrong Laminate Warranty | NA

To be fair, Armstrong laminate could have a really great warranty for its customers in Oceania. But to be completely transparent, we just don’t feel qualified to critique the warranties of other parts of the world. If you need to satisfy your curiosity and don’t mind a bit of digging, we recommend checking out the Armstrong website.

Laminate Flooring vs. Luxury Vinyl Plank

Ok! Now that we’ve gone through our list of the best laminate flooring brands, let’s talk about how the material compares to other hardwood floor alternatives. And these days, you can’t talk about faux wood flooring without mentioning vinyl plank. 

So: what is laminate flooring compared to vinyl plank? An old-fashioned alternative? Or a still-relevant competitor? 

High-Quality Laminate is Generally More Budget-Friendly

There’s no question that LVP is the most popular resilient floor on the market today. But: there are some clear-cut disadvantages of vinyl plank flooring where laminate excels. 

One of the biggest: top-quality vinyl flooring can get pretty expensive. But, there’s a much smaller price difference between high-end laminate and budget laminate.

Translation: the best laminate flooring brands generally cost less than the best vinyl plank flooring brands.

And Laminate Tends to Feel More Realistic

This obviously varies by product, but laminate flooring also tends to feel more like hardwood than vinyl does. Real hardwood is sturdy, but it usually has an ounce of give to it that most vinyl doesn’t have (though high-end WPC flooring may be an exception). 

Laminate is hard too, but its slightly-less-stiff fiberboard base offers a feel that’s more similar to hardwood than what vinyl offers.

For a similar reason, laminate is also quieter than most vinyl is, which is great if you don’t want to hear your fellow home dwellers talking on the other side of the house. 

“Waterproof” Laminate Evens the Playing Field (a Bit)—But Vinyl is Still More Resilient

If installed correctly, virtually all vinyl flooring is waterproof vinyl flooring. This is one of the main reasons some buyers prefer it to laminate. And while the waterproof laminate brands we discussed above have evened out the playing field a little bit, it’s really hard to make partially organic floors as waterproof as PVC flooring.

Oh, and it’s worth noting: since they can largely be installed in the same ways, the labor cost to install laminate is almost identical to the labor cost to install vinyl plank flooring.

Laminate Flooring vs. Engineered Wood

Here’s a really big question: what is engineered hardwood? Is it a type of laminate? This is a question we hear all the time, and the answer is a resounding no.

Comparing engineered hardwood vs. laminate is like comparing apples and oranges. They’re both types of fruit, but they’re not the same types of fruit.

Engineered Hardwood is Real Wood Flooring; Laminate is Not

The best engineered wood flooring uses a plywood base (similar to laminate’s HDF base) but it’s covered by a 100% authentic veneer of solid hardwood. Translation: engineered wood is real wood. It’s not a composite alternative like laminate.

You Can Refinish Wood; You Can’t Refinish Laminate

This is one of the biggest selling points for any real wood product—you can refinish it when it starts to show signs of wear. Engineered hardwood, however, can’t be refinished indefinitely, so make sure to check before you buy!

However, Laminate Is Way Cheaper to Buy and Install

The best engineered wood flooring brands offer products that are supremely durable, authentic, and a lot more expensive. Because again: they are real wood. We can’t stress that enough.

In fact, one of the biggest disadvantages of engineered wood—at least compared to laminate—is that the cost to install engineered hardwood floors can be so expensive! 

Don’t get us wrong, you get what you pay for, but if you’re looking for something effective that won’t require your child’s college fund, the best laminate flooring might be the better choice—or to point out the obvious—the cheaper choice.

What About Engineered Bamboo Flooring?

The pros and cons of engineered bamboo flooring are pretty identical to the pros and cons of engineered hardwood. So, if you’re also comparing bamboo flooring vs. laminate, you won’t see many major differences

You can also refinish bamboo flooring—but of course, the best bamboo flooring is still going to cost a lot more up front than the best laminate flooring will.

Laminate Flooring FAQs

Now that we’ve covered just about everything you need to know about what laminate flooring is, how it compares to other materials, and all the best brands to look for, we can cover some of the even finer details! Because we’re nothing if not comprehensive.

What’s the Ideal Thickness for Laminate Flooring?

This is a tricky question because materials are just as important as thickness, but generally, the best laminate flooring has a base thickness of 12mm. 

What about the photo and wear layers? Well, neither of these are particularly thick to begin with. Some brands may give out their wear layer widths in mils (a thousandth of an inch) but the AC rating is more important than thickness.

Are There Laminate Flooring Brands That Should Be Avoided?

We would be careful with any products that have an AC rating of 3 or less. However, as far as brands to avoid, it depends on your needs.

Who Makes the Most Durable Laminate Flooring?

Check the best laminate flooring brands section above—really, you can’t go wrong with any of the top options.

How Long Does the Best Laminate Flooring Last?

While best laminate flooring should last a lifetime, it’ll more likely keep looking great between 15 and 25 years with proper upkeep. But again, it entirely depends on the product.

Which of the Best Laminate Flooring Brands Are the Easiest to Install?

Trick question! Laminate is some of the easiest flooring to install in general. Virtually all laminate flooring can either be installed as a floating floor (minimal work), glued to the subfloor (not minimal, but still easy), or stapled to the subfloor (the same).

Translation: the cost to install laminate flooring is surprisingly low. Like… lower than almost any other floor.

Do Any of the Best Laminate Flooring Brands Actually Make Waterproof Laminate?

Mohawk’s RevWood is the only 100% waterproof laminate flooring that we can personally vouch for. 

In general, we’d say that most “waterproof” laminate is more “it’ll stand up to spills” waterproof and less “it’ll survive a 3-day basement flood” waterproof. 

Are VOCs Found in Laminate Flooring Really a Problem?

We wish it weren’t so, but they certainly can be. Luckily, all the best laminate brands make low-VOC products.

In fact, in the fallout of the Lumber Liquidators VOC scandal, virtually all floors now have non-toxic options, from low-VOC carpet to low-VOC vinyl flooring

Does Any Laminate Brand Make Easy-to-Repair Flooring?

It depends on your definition of “repair.” If you have a floating floor (and again, all the best laminate flooring brands offer floating setups), you can swap out planks if they get damaged. But no—individual laminate planks can’t be fixed if they get dented or scratched.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed (and learned from) this exhaustive guide to the best laminate flooring brands! Let’s recap what we learned:

  1. Buying the best laminate floors is a lot cheaper than buying hardwood floors. You still get the wood look, but you’re saving thousands of thousands of dollars overall. 
  2. At the end of the day, laminate can be as durable—or more so—as wood can. 
  3. Laminate does have some downsides, however—and there might be other types of flooring that are better suited for your needs.
  4. If you decide that laminate is the flooring for you, don’t forget to look for features of the best laminate flooring brands: a high AC rating, water-resistance, high-variation visuals, and so on. 
  5. If you can, read up on laminate flooring reviews for whatever company you’re thinking of buying from!

Whew! Now: if you’re ready to get some samples (or just buy your floors), take our advice. Don’t go to a big box store—instead, shop at a high-rated flooring store in your area. Local flooring retailers are the real experts, and can get you the perfect floor for your needs (and they’ll make sure to steer you clear of low-end laminate brands). 

Good luck on your laminate buying journey, and for more information, make sure to read up on:

About The Author

Christian Southards

Christian is a freelance everything-writer, editor, & SEO guy. When he’s not writing about flooring and remodeling, he’s either writing news for the California American Legion or writing fresh content for his camping & EDC blog (or, you know, actually camping).

Show Comments (4)
  1. Christian, of all the sites I’ve read about flooring, your write- ups are BY FAR the best written and most interesting. You think about, ask, and answer my questions before I think of them. And you’re very entertaining. What a relief and joy to find your articles!

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