The Best Laminate Flooring: Reviews, Brands, & More
April 14, 2021
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?
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 2021 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 12 best laminate flooring brands. Finally, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the world of laminate flooring.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
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 offerings—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.
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.
Laminate is more of an environmentally-friendly flooring choice than some otherhardwood 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 2021?
TheWaterproof Laminate Floor | $2.00–$3.50/sq. ft.
RevWood—made by flooring juggernaut Mohawk—is the standard in 100% waterproof laminate flooring. And holy moly is it pretty to look at. And walk on. And touch.
RevWood is Mohawk’s laminate answer to the luxury vinyl plank flooring boom (don’t worry, we’ll give you a side-by-side comparison of vinyl plank vs. laminate further down). And the results have been, in a word, excellent.
In fact, many flooring stores now put RevWood in their hardwood sections. It’s that good. And when we say it’s waterproof, we mean it. RevWood’s floating floors use a high-tech snap-together locking system called UniClic, which offers a secure seal against liquids.
Additionally, the planks are lined with something called Hydroseal, which naturally repels water, and their GenuEdge coating is considered to be one of the best wear layers in the business.
RevWood’s Laminate Offerings
RevWood has three different tiers. The first, plain ol’ RevWood, is water-resistant. However, RevWood Plus and RevWood Select are completely waterproof so long as they’re properly installed.
RevWood Laminate’s Durability
Ordinary RevWood is still super-durable. But obviously, it falls short of the premier lines that are durable and waterproof (the biggest reason people go for it). That being said, all three collections offer excellent scratch protection and dent resistance.
And while AC ratings aren’t super easy to find on Mohawk’s site (not usually a good sign) many outlets report that RevWood Select boasts an AC4 Rating.
RevWood Laminate’s Warranty
RevWood’s base warranty is pretty solid across the board—limited lifetime protection against manufacturer defects, staining, fading, scratches, etc. as long as you’re the original purchaser of the floor.
However: RevWood Plus and RevWood Select’s warranties guarantee that the floors will maintain their waterproofing—for life—under normal use. Additionally, they offer Mohawk’s All-Pet Protection plan, essentially guaranteeing that pet urine, feces, nails, etc. won’t harm their products.
Admittedly, “under normal use” is a little vague—but considering that these two lines have some of the most stellar laminate flooring reviews we’ve ever read, we’re willing to give RevWood the benefit of the doubt on this one.
Which RevWood Laminate Product Offers the Best Value?
If you don’t need waterproof floors, the ordinary RevWood line will save you about a dollar per square foot compared to the other two collections. And as we mentioned, it is a very good product.
RevWood Select probably offers the best overall value, though; it’s a little bit cheaper than RevWood Plus, yet still waterproof. It also offers dozens of styles so you’re sure to find something you like.
The Inventor of Laminate Flooring | $2.50–$3.25 / sq. ft.
Pergo actually invented laminate flooring back in the 1970s—and its continued efforts to innovate and perfect the product puts it near the top of the list of best laminate flooring brands.
If you’re new to laminate but familiar with Pergo, it might be because they’re one of the best vinyl plank flooring brands too. And while Pergo reviews point out that not all of their products are equal (in fact, their LVP might even be better than their laminate), this is a brand you can trust.
Oh, and pro tip: Pergo is actually owned by Mohawk these days, so you’ll see a lot of the same technology across their different offerings.
Pergo’s Laminate Offerings
Pergo currently offers 4 laminate collections totaling over 100 different colors and designs—all of which are wood-look. They are:
Pergo TimberCraft+WetProtect (sold at Lowes)
Pergo Outlast+SpillProtect (sold at Home Depot)
Pergo also offers a laminate/wood hybrid line called Defense+SpillProtect.
What’s the difference between WetProtect and SpillProtect? The latter has an attached underlayment whereas the former does not.
Pergo Laminate’s Durability
Pergo’s floors are some of the most durable around. All of their current offerings have some degree of water resistance and, according to most Pergo laminate flooring reviews, the products live up to their pedigree.
Additionally, according to most outlets, all Pergo products sport an impressive AC4 Rating.
Pergo Laminate’s Warranty
Pergo’s warranties vary depending on the collection, but most come down to a standard and limited lifetime warranty for residential use and a 10-year commercial warranty. Really solid for laminate flooring, but no surprise given its high AC rating.
Pro tip: read your warranty thoroughly before installing. A good number of Pergo’s negative laminate flooring reviews boil down to incorrect installation (and subsequent warranty issues).
Which Pergo Laminate Product Offers the Best Value?
The Pergo Outlast+SpillProtect collection offers the widest catalog, comes with an attached underlayment, and only costs about $3.00 per square foot. However, it is only sold at Home Depot, which isn’t usually a great sign—so we’d recommend going with whatever Pergo product your local flooring store recommends.
#3: Shaw Industries
Superior Durability, But at a High Price Point | $4.50–$7/sq. ft.
Shaw, the second-largest flooring company in the world, is yet another staple in the flooring industry. And to be frank, their products would be closer to the top of our best laminate flooring brands list f 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 has 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 Durability
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
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.
#4: Mannington Mills
Sustainable, Low-VOC, and USA-Made | $3.40–$3.70/sq. Ft.
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 Durability
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 RevWood route.
Plus, it boasts a super-strong AC4 Rating.
Mannington Laminate’s Warranty
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.
#5: TecWood by Mohawk
Pergo Tech, With a Real Wood Twist | $2.50–$3.50/sq. Ft.
It might seem odd that Mohawk, the world’s largest flooring company, is so far down on our list—even though they own both RevWood and Pergo.
Well, the universe is a weird place, and the world of flooring is no different. Mohawk isn’t just the owner of some of the best laminate flooring brands—they also make some under their own name. But: there’s an odd twist to this one, which is why we didn’t put it higher.
Mohawk’s third laminate flooring brand is called TecWood, and interestingly, it isn’t a true laminate. Rather, it mixes a fiberboard core and plasticate wear layer with a real wood veneer.
This fusion of real wood and laminate qualities makes it both super realistic (because of its real wood veneer) and much stronger—and cheaper—than ordinary hardwood. Can’t decide between engineered hardwood vs. laminate? Rejoice: TecWood gives you the best of both worlds.
Here’s what makes TecWood even better: it uses (more or less) the same technology you’d find in Pergo and RevWood. That means a superior scratch, dent, and water-resistant product than ordinary wood.
Mohawk’s TecWood Offerings
Mohawk’s TecWood offers a much wider selection of styles than Pergo (over 200 colors and designs), but keeps the tiered pricing model: a budget option, a midline option, and a premier line. And none of the options cost more than about $3.50 per square foot. From the top down, they are:
Mohawk’s TecWood Durability
Hydroseal, UniClic, GenuEdge—TecWood uses it all. Just beware: like Pergo, Mohawk’s TecWood isn’t completely waterproof. And: because it’s not a true laminate, TecWood isn’t quite as hard-wearing as RevWood or Pergo. So if you’re looking for the absolute best wood flooring for dogs, consider yourself warned.
Mohawk’s TecWood Warranty
Mohawk’s budget TecWood line offers a limited lifetime residential warranty and only a 5-year “light to medium” warranty for commercial applications. Otherwise, the warranty is basically the same as Pergo’s, if a little less heavy-duty.
Again, because TecWood blurs the line between hardwood and laminate, it’s not going to offer the same amount of protection—though it looks absolutely phenomenal.
Which TecWood Product Offers the Best Value?
TecWood Premier is one of Mohawk’s best laminate flooring options, costing about $3.50 per square foot.
#6: AquaGuard by Floor & Decor
Reasonably Waterproof, Very Durable | $2.50–$4.00/sq. ft.
AquaGuard 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 Durability
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 up to 30 hours.
AquaGuard Laminate’s Warranty
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.
Other Top Laminate Flooring Brands
And here’s where things get dicey. The options below aren’t necessarily the best laminate flooring brands as far as quality is concerned (though a couple of them aren’t bad). Rather, they’re some of the best brands as far as popularity is concerned. You’ll see what we mean.
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 collections, with perhaps the most popular, AquaFlor, being exclusive to Menards. 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.
#8: 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”.
Anyway. 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.
#9: 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.
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.
#10: TrafficMaster by Home Depot
Probably Not Worth The (Very Small) Price | $0.50–$2.00/sq. Ft.
Home Depot’s TrafficMaster sells like it’s one of the best laminate flooring brands, but it has more to do with its low price than its quality. 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.
Unless you’re looking for a very temporary floor, this is one to skip.
#11: AquaSeal and DreamHome by LL Flooring (aka Lumber Liquidators)
The Patient Zero of Toxic Flooring | $0.50–$2.25/sq. ft.
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.
Either way, with a price tag that starts at about 50 cents per square foot, DreamHome is clearly targeting budget buyers—and surprise surprise, most reviews are pretty negative. The biggest complaint: DreamHome seems to be made with subpar materials and degrades quickly.
Its premier laminate lines, DreamHome 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 DreamHome.
#12: Armstrong + Bruce
No Longer Making Laminate | NA
Ok, so hear us out. We had to include Armstrong Flooring and Bruce (the latter of which is owned by the former) on this list because:
They’re extremely well-known flooring manufacturers—in fact, they’re both on our list of best hardwood floor brands. And that means lots of people assume they sell laminate, try to find it, and get frustrated when they can’t.
Both companies used to sell laminate (and some listings are still kicking around the internet), which makes things even more confusing for floor buyers.
But again: neither company makes laminate flooring any longer.
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 either site.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
We hope you enjoyed (and learned from) this exhaustive guide to the best laminate flooring brands! Let’s recap what we learned:
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.
At the end of the day, laminate can be as durable—or more so—as wood can.
Laminate does have some downsides, however—and there might be other types of flooring that are better suited for your needs.
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.
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:
Take any subject and there’s a good chance Christian has written about it. From marketing and international relations to wildlife (hobby!) and sports, Christian writes, edits, or helps publish just about everything that’s resigned to written form. His love for home design and remodeling began with his first job working for his uncle’s property management business.
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July 27, 2021 If you’ve been looking into waterproof laminate flooring (or just the best laminate flooring in general), there’s a good chance you’ve stumbled across the AquaGuard flooring brand. But what is AquaGuard laminate flooring, exactly? Who makes it? And is it worth buying for your home? As it turns out, this brand actually […]
July 15, 2021 If you’ve researched any kind of flooring, you’ve probably seen ads for Home Depot’s TrafficMaster flooring. It’s basically everywhere. But what actually is TrafficMaster? Who actually makes it? And most importantly, is it worth buying? Well, that’s what we’re here to explain—with a special focus on TrafficMaster laminate flooring, the brand’s most […]