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Shaw Laminate Flooring Reviews + Products

July 1, 2021

If you’ve been reading up on the best laminate flooring brands, you already know that Shaw laminate flooring is a premier choice. It’s durable, looks great, and generally costs less than real hardwood. 

But with so many brands to choose from, we know you have questions too. That’s why we’re covering everything there is to know about Shaw laminate flooring right here! 

We’ll talk about the different laminate collections that Shaw sells, their pros and cons, and how Shaw’s laminate collections compare to the company’s vinyl collections. 

We’ve even gone through hundreds of Shaw laminate flooring reviews to make sure our info is coming from people who have actually purchased the product! 

So: if you want to know everything there is to know about Shaw laminate flooring (including the weird Costco-Shaw flooring situation), read on!

Or, if you want to skip the meat of this article and go right to our final thoughts, click here!

Table of Contents

Laminate Flooring: The Basics

You probably know this already, but let’s start with a quick recap on the basics of laminate (just to make sure we’re all on the same page).

So: what is laminate flooring? It’s a durable, affordable, and beautiful fake wood flooring option. 

It’s constructed out of:

  • A high-density fiberboard base
  • A photo-realistic image layer (that can mimic the look of anything, but mainly different types of wood flooring)
  • And a super-durable wear layer. 

The resulting product is attractive and sturdy enough to go anywhere in the home, and it offers a more durable and budget-friendly alternative to buying hardwood floors.

Cross section of laminate flooring

Laminate is just one of the many different types of flooring available to the modern homeowner, but it’s undeniably one of the most popular. 

And now that we’re all caught up, let’s talk about Shaw laminate flooring!

Shaw Laminate Flooring Overview

Shaw’s sells some of the best laminate flooring around. And that’s no surprise—Shaw is the second-largest flooring manufacturer in the world.

The company’s laminate offerings are currently split into two collections (formerly 3).

However, it’s worth noting that these collections are not organized by how “premier” the product is. Rather, they’re organized by plank dimensions.

  • Shaw Repel is the standard line. It’s also water-resistant.
  • Mixed Width comes in (you guessed it) mixed-width planks.
  • Long Board, which used to come in longer-than-standard planks, no longer appears on Shaw’s website.

We’ll go into the details of these collections further down.

Where Is Shaw Laminate Flooring Made?

If you prefer to buy American-made products, you’re in luck. Shaw Repel laminate flooring is made right here in the United States.

Normally, we wouldn’t make a point of this. However, over the last decade or so there have been a few major lawsuits involving laminate manufacturers that source their products from overseas (Lumber Liquidators, who makes CoreLuxe flooring, for example).

What Is Shaw Laminate Made Of?

Shaw laminate flooring is made in the same general way as most other laminate products. 

But rather than using a basic fiberboard core, Shaw uses a proprietary material they call OptiCore in their Repel line for superior stability and moisture resistance. Their laminate planks also include an aluminum oxide-infused wear layer.

Who Carries Shaw Laminate Flooring? 

Shaw partners with dealers all over the country (and beyond)—so you can find their laminate flooring just about everywhere. Even big-box stores like Lowes carry it. 

Shaw also has a partnership with Costco, though we’re not convinced that buying Shaw laminate at Costco is a good idea for reasons we’ll discuss below (short version: reviews of Shaw laminate flooring from Costco are weirdly bad compared to Shaw laminate flooring reviews from just about anywhere else).

How Is Shaw Laminate Flooring Installed?

Shaw doesn’t do anything fancy here: you can either install Shaw laminate as a floating floor (click-together) or you can glue it down. Either method works great, but we recommend following Shaw’s directions because improper installation can void the warranty.

What Makes Shaw’s Laminate Flooring Different?

We already mentioned that Shaw uses its own OptiCore technology for its Repel base layer (rather than generic high-density fiberboard), which basically boosts the floor’s moisture resistance and stability. But there are a couple of other technologies worth noting too.

Shaw Locking Technology (VersaLock AG & LocNPlace)

As we mentioned above, Shaw laminate flooring can be glued down or installed as a floating floor. 

What is a floating floor? It’s any surface that doesn’t attach directly to the subfloor, but rather “floats” on top of it. Most of the time, this means snap-together flooring—a type of installation in which planks click and lock together like puzzle pieces.

Now: Shaw’s proprietary locking technologies—known as VersaLock AG and LocNPlace—aren’t that different from what you’d find with other laminate brands (like RevWood’s UniClic system). 

But since shoddy locking systems are an extremely common complaint when it comes to laminate flooring reviews, it’s worth noting that Shaw’s laminate flooring click-lock systems are very well-regarded. 

PS: don’t worry—even if you use a click-together setup, you’ll still be able to mimic all sorts of fun wood floor patterns.

OptiGuard Wear Layer Technology

In addition to its OptiCore base layer, Shaw laminate uses a proprietary finish they call OptiGuard

Reviews for OptiGuard are a little more mixed—we’ll talk about that in the Advantages and Disadvantages sections below—but the long and short is that Shaw laminate flooring is supremely resistant to fading from UV exposure. 

The 2 Collections of Shaw Laminate Flooring

Again, Shaw offers 2 collections of laminate flooring: standard Repel and Mixed Width.

Shaw Repel

Price: $5.39–$5.89/sq. ft.

Shaw Repel is water-resistant and offers about 20 different styles—mostly in greys and other light wood floor colors. They also sport very authentic-looking patterns. 

All Repel planks are 12mm thick, which is good for stability. Dimension-wise, Shaw Repel comes in two options, both of which mimic wide-plank wood flooring:

  • 5.44 x 50.75 inches
  • 7.67 x 48 inches

Shaw Mixed Width Laminate

Price: $5.89–$6.09/sq. ft.

There are currently 9 styles available in the Mixed Width collection, ranging from dark to light wood hues. Again, all of these planks are 12mm thick so they should be fairly stable. 

However, there are 2 different groups of mixed-width planks to choose from:

  • 3.5”, 5”, and 6.375”
  • 3.58”, 5”, and 6.24”

And again, these mixed-width options do not sport the same water resistance as the Repel line.

Advantages of Shaw Laminate Flooring

Shaw laminate Repel bedroom
Courtesy of Shaw

Now that we’ve covered the general info, let’s get into the pros of Shaw laminate flooring!

Shaw Industries Has a Great Reputation for Making High-Quality Floors

Get ready for this: Shaw takes a seat in 4 of our top brand articles:

All of that to say: the company is known for making good products.

Shaw Laminate Flooring Reviews Say it Looks Just Like Real Wood

Even experts have a hard time telling the difference between Shaw’s laminate vs. hardwood floors. The authenticity doesn’t appear to favor specific wood floor colors either—light, gray, and dark woods all seem to look just like the real thing.

Shaw Laminate Flooring Offers a Great Variety of Designs

While Shaw laminate only comes in about 30 total styles, it includes all the popular hardwood species. For example, with Shaw laminate flooring you can experience the pros and cons of teak flooring, minus the “cons!”

Even a few uncommon choices like ash flooring appear in Shaw’s laminate catalog. However, more exotic styles, like those that mimic ebony flooring, are noticeably absent. 

Shaw Repel Can Go (Almost) Anywhere

Shaw Repel isn’t waterproof, but its quality water resistance and general durability make it a good fit for just about any room in your home—including half bathrooms and kitchens. Just be sure to clean any spills promptly!

Shaw Repel Has Good Water-Repelling Properties (Of Course)

On that note, if you’ve been eyeing a wood floor bathroom look, Shaw Repel laminate can fit the bill. Again, the Repel collection isn’t a fully waterproof laminate flooring option, so don’t let standing water anywhere near it. But casual spills shouldn’t be a problem. 

Shaw Flooring Reviews Say It Doesn’t Fade in Sunlight

Shaw warrants that its laminate won’t fade in sunlight for the duration of the floor’s lifetime, and reviews seem to agree. This means you can use Shaw laminate for sunroom flooring in temperature and humidity-controlled rooms (most, if not all laminate floors are vulnerable to extreme humidity). 

Maintaining Shaw Laminate Flooring Is Easy

Regardless of the collection, Shaw laminate flooring reviews agree that maintenance is a breeze. Regular ol’ sweeping is totally fine. Shaw recommends using a laminate floor cleaner every now and then, too.

There’s also no need to refinish laminate flooring the same way you might refinish bamboo flooring or hardwood (in fact, you couldn’t do it even if you wanted to).

Shaw Laminate Has Impressive Durability 

Outside of Costco Shaw laminate (we’re getting to that), Shaw laminate reviews say it easily stacks up against even the most durable wood flooring. The aluminum-oxide wear layer plays a big part in this, but the moisture-resistant OptiCore base layer found in the Repel line doesn’t hurt either. 

It’s (Relatively) Eco-Friendly

To this point, we’ve omitted one of the best features of the OptiCore base layer: Shaw uses the wood waste from its hardwood floor crafting process to create it! 

This resourceful use of materials that would otherwise be thrown out makes Shaw laminate flooring one of the more eco-friendly flooring choices around (at least as far as laminate goes). 

Before you say anything, yes, we know that we’re talking about a floor that’s partially synthetic. And it’s true, other options like hemp flooring and sustainable wood flooring are notably greener. But you have to give Shaw at least a little credit here.

All Shaw Laminate Products Are GreenGuard-Certified

GreenGuard certifications verify that their holders adhere to strict standards for VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions.

Translation: you can rest easy if you buy Shaw laminate flooring—this certificate guarantees that it’s non-toxic laminate flooring (and low-VOC flooring to boot).

Shaw Laminate Flooring Is Easy and Quick to Install

If you’re looking for easy flooring to install, Shaw laminate is a contender—its locking systems are famously user-friendly. And remember, since you can control which planks go where, you can mimic all sorts of wood floor designs, like parquet flooring looks.

Note: if you’re looking for the easiest flooring to install, the only easier options might be loose-lay vinyl plank flooring or peel-and-stick vinyl plank flooring. Or, you know, peel-and-stick carpet tiles, but we’re talking about resilient surfaces here.

Shaw Laminate Is Generally Cheaper Than Most Quality Hardwood

Wood flooring costs can be scary. Don’t get us wrong, the best hardwood floors are worth the money—but laminate floors are so much cheaper. 

Even Shaw laminate flooring (which is a little pricey for laminate at about $5.50/sq. ft.), tends to be cheaper than meh-quality hardwood once you factor in the install costs.

Disadvantages of Shaw Laminate Flooring

Shaw laminate flooring close up
Courtesy of Shaw

Shaw laminate offers tons of upside, but there are some negatives to consider. 

Standard Laminate Flooring Can’t Get Wet (Poor Water Resistance)

In terms of water resistance, Shaw Repel is about the equivalent to water-resistant wood flooring. It’ll survive a spill, but don’t dump a bucket on it and leave. 

Shaw laminate flooring not categorized as part of the Repel collection, on the other hand, may have little to no water resistance (like most laminates). Again, it’s unclear from Shaw’s website. So if you were thinking about using it as mudroom flooring… don’t.

Like we said earlier, laminate won’t utterly fail because of a few drops, but it doesn’t take much. So: spills need to be cleaned up immediately. 

Again: if any amount of water is left on laminate, it can A) ruin the wear layer, and B) penetrate the fibers of the laminate plank, causing warping and cracking. 

Shaw Laminates Can Be Damaged by Excessive Humidity

According to the warranty for both collections (Repel and Mixed Width), excessive humidity or dryness can ruin the floor. Luckily, anything between 35% to 65% humidity is totally safe (most homes in the U.S. sit at 40%). 

Does that mean you should worry if the humidity occasionally dips or rises above those limits? Probably not, but this is still a good reason to keep Shaw laminate (or any laminate, for that matter) off your list of outdoor flooring options.

There Don’t Seem to be Commercial Warranties for Either Collection…

Good luck finding a commercial warranty for either collection—there’s no information readily available. Generally, these appear with the residential warranties. But on Shaw’s website, they’re noticeably absent.

If you’re worried, you have a right to be. Most floors have some sort of commercial warranty so it’s strange that Shaw seems to completely skip it. It makes us think that it’s possible this floor isn’t intended for the heavy foot traffic that businesses get. 

…And the Residential Warranty Is Unclear

Shaw’s warranty policy is confusing. On the one hand, the actual warranty policy you can download from Shaw’s website offers lifetime coverage for the structural integrity of all its (properly installed) laminate products.

But: Shaw’s Laminate Warranty Highlights page says that the company only offers 15, 20, 25, and 30-year warranty policies—depending on the product. There’s a clear disconnect here, and it’s not clear which version applies to which product. Again: this isn’t a great sign as far as durability is concerned.

Shaw Laminate Doesn’t Come With an Underlayment, Which It Needs

This actually isn’t a disadvantage so much as it is an inconvenience. 

Shaw strongly recommends that buyers use an underlayment with their laminate floors, which has to be bought separately. If you place laminate directly over your subflooring (and what is subflooring?) moisture can creep up and damage the floor from below. 

The silver lining here is that you get to pick what underlayment you use, and there are a ton of options. A basic underlayment should seal out moisture, but more advanced products may offer benefits like superior comfort. You can even turn your laminate into magnetic flooring with a special type of underlayment to make installation even easier.

Some Shaw Laminate Flooring Reviews Say It Has Poor Scratch-Resistance…

Most Shaw laminate flooring reviews are positive, but one common theme among the complaints: it scratches easily. 

That being said, we’re still willing to call Shaw laminate scratch-resistant flooring because A) it uses an aluminum-oxide wear layer, and B) the complaint doesn’t pop up that often.

…Which May Be Why Shaw Doesn’t Publish Its Laminate’s AC Rating

A little context: the flooring industry uses “AC ratings” (on a scale from 1–5) to measure how durable a laminate floor is. 

An AC rating of 1 means the floor is barely a step above laminated paper, while an AC rating of 5 means the floor offers peak durability. Most floors on the market have an AC rating of 3 or 4.

Shaw, however, doesn’t publish the AC rating of its laminate floors—and third-party estimates vary widely (so we don’t trust them). 

Comparing Shaw laminate’s performance to other floors in its class, it probably has an AC rating of 3 or 4 but we can’t say that for certain. It’s just odd (and concerning) that Shaw doesn’t mention it anywhere.

There Are No Stone or Tile Looks

Laminate is usually sold as fake wood flooring, but many brands offer a few looks that mimic different types of tile or stone. Shaw exclusively offers wood looks in its laminate collections. 

Shaw Laminate Can be Noisy and Hard

Laminate isn’t the world’s most comfortable floor to walk on (though it isn’t bad), and Shaw doesn’t really do anything to fix this. If comfort is a priority for you, we might recommend something like low VOC-carpet instead.

Or, if you still want a wood-look floor, cork has a nice spring to it! The disadvantages of cork flooring can be a little off-putting (aversion to water, degrades over time, etc.) but the best cork flooring is much more comfortable than laminate, and it can also look like hardwood.

Laminate Flooring is Impossible to Refinish

Shaw laminate flooring—or any laminate flooring, for that matter—can’t be refinished. If a plank is damaged, it has to be completely replaced. 

This is one reason some buyers still prefer solid or engineered hardwood vs. laminate. Granted, engineered hardwood (and what is engineered hardwood?) can only be refinished a handful of times, but that’s still better than zero.

The same issue applies when comparing bamboo flooring vs. laminate. Like hardwood, bamboo can be refinished.

Laminate Doesn’t Offer Great Resale Value in General

The best engineered hardwood flooring and the best bamboo flooring have another thing in common: they’re well-respected by homebuyers. 

The best laminate flooring? Not so much. Many still perceive laminate as a budget flooring choice, even though it’s made massive strides in performance since it was invented in the 1970s. 

Costco/Shaw Laminate Flooring Reviews Are Really Bad

Before we move on, there’s one more disadvantage we need to talk about. For reasons that defy an easy explanation, reviews of Shaw laminate products purchased at Costco are bad. Really bad. 

Why does it defy an easy explanation? Well, the Shaw laminate flooring that Costco sells appears to be the very same Shaw laminate flooring sold everywhere else.

So what’s the deal? One possible explanation is that Costco hires very poor contractors to install these floors. Maybe these second-rate contractors are fumbling their way through the install process and the floors are failing due to improper installation?

Or, maybe these reviewers bought low-end laminate from Costco thinking it was made by Shaw (because of the mentioned partnership) and this is simply a case of mistaken identity?

Or, perhaps the Shaw laminate flooring sold at Costco is actually a lower-end product that’s simply branded the same? It’s impossible to say.

Whatever the case, just don’t buy your floors at Costco! Not that you should, anyway. Actual flooring retailers are always the way to go, for about a million different reasons.

Other Things to Know Before Installing Shaw Laminate Flooring

If Shaw laminate flooring still sounds like a good deal to you, here are a few more points to consider.

Bedroom close up
Courtesy of Shaw

Glueless Shaw Laminate Can Be Installed Over Existing Flooring (You Don’t Have to Rip the Old Floors Up)

Floating floors can usually be installed over existing surfaces. Shaw’s floating laminate is no different. 

You Do Need to Install a Vapor Barrier Beneath Shaw Laminate

Any underlayment that you use with Shaw laminate flooring needs to be able to seal out moisture. Fortunately, most underlayments fit this description (even underlayments for vinyl flooring will work!).

You Can Mix Shaw Laminate Planks Made in Different Years (if Both Floors Use the Same Locking Technology)

You can mix different Shaw laminate flooring planks together so long as they use the same locking technology. Even if they were made in different years! 

Shaw Laminate Flooring Reviews Suggest You Shouldn’t Install It Alone (Translation: It’s Better to Hire a Pro)

Most laminate flooring reviews note that their chosen product’s warranty is voided by improper installation. While it may be called do-it-yourself flooring, hiring a pro contractor is the safer route (and could save you some moolah down the line). 

You Can Use Some Radiant Heating Systems With Shaw Laminate

The same tech that’s used for heating wood floors can also be used with Shaw laminate flooring, so long as it complies with Shaw’s warranty policy.

Does Shaw Laminate Flooring Have Special Care Requirements?

Shaw makes it clear that regular maintenance will go a long way towards ensuring that its laminate lasts. But the good news is that Shaw laminate flooring is pretty easy to take care of.

Shaw Flooring Needs Regular Cleaning (But It’s Mostly Easy)

Shaw recommends cleaning its laminate flooring “regularly…to prevent [the] accumulation of dirt and grit that can scratch or dull the floor finish.”  

Shaw also says that cleaners specifically designed for laminate floors are good to use on occasion. But any other cleaners are likely to damage the floor (so you absolutely can’t bleach laminate the same way you might bleach wooden floors).

Finally, Is Shaw Repel Waterproof?

Nope! Remember, Shaw Repel is water-resistant. If you allow standing water to collect on Shaw laminate flooring, it will be ruined.

There are a few waterproof hardwood floor alternatives though! Concrete flooring that looks like wood is waterproof by default, as are wood-look tile and (duh) waterproof vinyl flooring.

Shaw Laminate Flooring vs. Shaw Vinyl Flooring: Which is Better?

Vinyl plank vs. laminate: it’s easily the most heated debate in the flooring world, and Shaw makes both.

The very best vinyl flooring options come with authentic looks, true waterproofing, and super durable cores (hence the moniker rigid core luxury vinyl flooring). Even better: the materials are about the same price as laminates, and the cost to install vinyl plank flooring is about the same, too.

Now, there are a few problems with luxury vinyl tile, but the worst offenses are usually committed by low-end brands. We’re talking poor durability, failed waterproofing, things like that. 

The one contest laminate always wins: it’s a more environmentally-friendly flooring choice because it’s not 100% plastic, unlike vinyl (which is a type of PVC flooring). And while vinyl brands like Proximity Mills do make recyclable products, laminate still has the edge here.

Shaw’s LVP Brand is Called Floorté (and It’s Really Good)

So how do Shaw’s vinyl products break down? Well, Floorté, a type of EVP flooring, is Shaw’s LVP offering. And frankly, it’s one of the better vinyl products on the market. There are 3 collections to choose from, ranging in price from about $5.00/sq. ft. all the way up to almost $11.00/sq. ft.

The thing is, even the cheaper Floorté products are waterproof—something high-end Shaw laminate flooring can’t say. There are also dozens upon dozens of different styles to choose from, including wood and stone looks. Also: Floorté has an SPC core, which offers incredible durability.

We won’t go so far as to say that Shaw Floorté is superior to Shaw laminate flooring, but you may get more bang for your buck with the LVP options.

Which Shaw Laminate Flooring Product Offers the Best Value? Shaw Repel.

The mixed-width products on Shaw’s website aren’t water-resistant in the same way as the Repel line, so to be safe, we’re going to go with Shaw Repel.

Either way, Repel is definitely water-resistant and costs the same, (or less) than the mixed-width offerings.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Shaw’s Repel collection offers many of the features you might expect from the best laminate flooring brands. It’s durable, water-resistant, easy to care for, and looks like real wood.

Overall, it’s an excellent product. Shaw’s standard laminate is fine, but if you’ve spent any time looking into reviews of other laminate brands—Pergo reviews, for instance—you’ll find that they may have an edge here.

But, if we had to choose between Shaw Repel and Shaw Floorté, we might go with the LVP. Why? It’s completely waterproof, offers more styles, and is arguably more durable. Plus: most Shaw LVP is sold in a similar price range (though some products are way more expensive).

Your Local Flooring Stores Can Help You Decide

Now: if you’re still on the fence about Shaw laminate flooring, get some help from the professionals. Flooring experts at your local flooring stores live and breathe flooring! They’ll be able to give you a better idea of how specific products fit your needs. 

Whatever you decide, thanks so much for reading! We hope this article was helpful. And for more flooring ideas and info, check out:

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About The Author

Christian Southards

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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