TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring Reviews: Is it Worth It?
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 popular product.
Below, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about TrafficMaster flooring. The different products that are sold under the TrafficMaster name, their advantages and disadvantages (which we’ve compiled by looking through hundreds of TrafficMaster flooring reviews), and everything else you’d ever want to know about TrafficMaster laminate flooring.
So: ready to jump into the world of TrafficMaster flooring reviews? Let’s go!
Or, if you want to skip right to our final verdict on whether this Home Depot exclusive is worth buying, click here!
For the Most Part, TrafficMaster Is Intended to Be Budget Friendly
Regardless of the type of floor, TrafficMaster flooring usually occupies the lower end of the price spectrum. In other words, Home Depot basically makes floors that are good enough for some uses, but not intended to compete with high-end brands or products.
TrafficMaster Flooring Is Home Depot’s Most Popular In-House Laminate
TrafficMaster is Home Depot’s flagship laminate line, but it also competes with Home Depot’s other in-house brands: LifeProof and Home Decorators Collection.
LifeProof also offers laminate flooring, but it’s mostly known for its LVP.
Home Decorators Collection is Home Depot’s direct-to-consumer brand and offers everything from furniture to lighting, and of course flooring. Since it’s direct-to-consumer, you can only order it online (it’s not sold in stores).
TrafficMaster Is a Home Depot Exclusive, but You May Be Able to Find Older Products at Other Stores
While new TrafficMaster flooring is only available from Home Depot, a casual search may turn up older products on second-hand sites. Just something to be aware of as you shop for floors!
We’re Focusing on TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring
Again: all 3 of Home Depot’s in-house brands (TrafficMaster, LifeProof, and Home Decorators Collection) offer both laminate and vinyl plank.
TrafficMaster is largely seen as Home Depot’s flagship in-house laminate brand, while LifeProof is largely seen as the store’s flagship in-house vinyl brand.
With that in mind, we’re going to be focusing this review on TrafficMaster laminate flooring only. We’re not talking about laminate made by Home Decorators Collection (not offered in stores) or LifeProof (known for LVP). If you do want a breakdown of LifeProof vinyl flooring reviews, click that link.
Laminate Flooring Overview: What You Need to Know
Ok! To understand this review, you’re going to have to understand a few things about laminate flooring first.
TrafficMaster Laminate Is Made by Several Different Companies
Pinning down who makes which version of TrafficMaster laminate flooring is surprisingly difficult. Some third-party sites suggest that the bulk of TrafficMaster laminate flooring is made by Shaw, one of the best hardwood floor brands, but there’s not much to substantiate these claims.
This probably won’t be a problem for most buyers but it may make it hard to determine if a particular product is made in the USA or elsewhere.
Are There Different Collections of TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring? Not Exactly.
Many other laminate brands separate their products into different collections or quality tiers. TrafficMaster does not.
And while TrafficMaster does offer different quality options based on warranty and plank thickness, there’s no obvious way to sort through the company’s catalog by these features.
There Are 3 Plank Thickness Options and 2 Warranty Options
TrafficMaster offers 3 plank thickness options and 2 warranty options (we’ll talk more about the warranty in a moment) for its laminate products:
7mm (15-year warranty)
8mm (30-year warranty)
12mm (30-year warranty)
Unfortunately, Home Depot doesn’t let you directly search with this filter. And before you ask, searching by “Price” doesn’t really match up with the thickness options.
The Best Way Is to Sort By “Color Family” and “Species”
We found that the easiest way to sort through TrafficMaster’s catalog is to filter the results in one of 2 ways:
“Color Family”: Brown, Gray, Tan, or Yellow
“Species”: Oak, Hickory, Pecan, Brazilian Cherry, or Teak (note: these are hardwood specieslooks—laminate contains no actual hardwood)
You can also sort by “Style”, “Plank Size”, and “Gloss”, but they don’t eliminate many products from the list. Most of the catalog mimics wide plank wood flooring, and there are relatively few gloss options offered.
How Much Does TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring Cost?
TrafficMaster flooring ranges between $0.59/sq. ft. and $2.20/sq. ft. Pricing generally breaks down by plank thickness—but there are more than a few exceptions, so this isn’t a concrete rule.
How Does TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring’s Warranty Compare to Other Brands?
TrafficMaster offers a 15-year residential warranty for most of its 7mm-plank options, while its few 8mm and 12mm floors carry a 30-year warranty. In both cases, this is below the industry standard (in fact, lifetime limited warranties are typical) but there aren’t any crazy stipulations here.
Some 12mm TrafficMaster laminate flooring products offer a 7-year commercial warranty.
How to Install TrafficMaster Laminate
Trafficmaster laminate flooring can either be glued down or floated, which is pretty standard for most floors—laminate, vinyl plank, even some engineered hardwood (and what is engineered hardwood, exactly?)
Glue-down laminate flooring is exactly what it sounds like, and you install it in the same way you’d install glue-down hardwood or glue-down vinyl plank flooring. The advantage here is that you can lay planks down in any pattern you want. Want to get cool wood floor patterns like chevron or herringbone parquet flooring? This is the installation style for you.
This also applies to replacement costs. So, if you’re thinking about the cost to replace carpet with hardwood, for example, TrafficMaster flooring could be a more value-conscious choice.
Advantages of TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring
We’ll be upfront. If you’re looking for a super-high-quality surface, TrafficMaster laminate flooring doesn’t really dazzle. But: TrafficMaster flooring reviews suggest that it does have some redeeming qualities, and that it can be an excellent floor for certain applications.
TrafficMaster’s Best Feature is its Cost
Again: TrafficMaster’s best feature is its cost. You can buy 7mm TrafficMaster Laminate for about $0.60/sq. ft.
The thicker (and better) 8mm and 12mm options top out at about $2.20/sq. ft.
Most laminate, by comparison, ranges between $2 and $4/sq. ft. And higher-end products like Shaw laminate flooring cost even more.
And TrafficMaster Reviews are Relatively Decent (For the Price)
Despite its low price, TrafficMaster flooring reviews are actually pretty decent. Yes, complaints are common—but most are relatively trivial. The quality seems to be a little better than what you might expect from a floor that costs around a dollar less than most other laminate—and much less than the average cost of wood flooring (what TrafficMaster laminate is usually substituting for).
TrafficMaster Flooring Reviews Also Say It’s Durable Enough
TrafficMaster flooring reviews say the durability is acceptable; it should handle ordinary wear and tear for the bulk of its lifespan. However, don’t expect it to look pristine years after installation.
The 7mm and 8mm Options are Suitable for Low-to-Medium Residential Use
Where TrafficMaster laminate flooring really excels is low-traffic areas. We’re not saying you can’t walk on it, but high-traffic use will wear the floor down much faster.
If you need a small amount of flooring to line a walk-in closet or replace some aging floors in a low-use summer property, TrafficMaster can get the job done at a steep discount.
Some 12mm TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring Has a Solid 7-Year Commercial Warranty
We’ve mentioned this before, but this is very important:some 12mm TrafficMaster laminate flooring products have a commercial warranty. Again: Home Depot does not offer a commercial warranty for all of its 12mm (or any of its 7mm or 8mm) TrafficMaster laminate flooring products.
The reason for this most likely comes down to who makes the individual product (because as we said before, different manufacturers make different TrafficMaster products).
TrafficMaster Laminate Is Designed to Be Easy to Install
TrafficMaster flooring is intended to be DIY-friendly. The laminate can be floated, which eliminates the need for a lot of the labor that normally comes with installing floors (e.g. gluing and nailing).
If you’re not sure what a floating floor is, don’t worry—it basically comes down to snapping planks together over your subflooring.
Unlike Most Budget Laminate, the Design Pattern Doesn’t Repeat Itself
Repeated plank patterns scream “budget flooring”. Think about it: if a laminate floor only has 5 or 6 different plank patterns, and the floor is made up of dozens of planks, you’ll instantly notice those repetitions. And that immediately tells your brain that the floor is fake.
This ruins the floor’s authenticity—and it’s a common problem among low-end laminate and LVP floors (looking at you, Stainmaster luxury vinyl).
Home Depot seems to have avoided this mistake as there are very few mentions of repeated patterns in TrafficMaster laminate flooring reviews.
Maintenance for TrafficMaster Laminate Is (Mostly) Effortless
The Use and Care Manual for TrafficMaster flooring recommends using dust mops or vacuums—and that’s about all there is to it.
While TrafficMaster laminate is not water-resistant, Home Depot says you can use a water-based laminate cleaner for “more thorough cleaning” so long as you immediately dry any wet spots.
Just remember: do not use a vacuum with a “beater bar”. It will absolutely destroy the surface of your laminate.
TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring’s Warranty Says It Won’t Fade in Sunlight
According to the warranty policies, TrafficMaster laminate flooring won’t fade in direct sunlight or harsh lighting over the course of its lifespan. So, any versions should be safe to use for sunroom flooring.
Disadvantages of TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring
When it comes to budget flooring, it’s fair to expect some flaws. While TrafficMaster flooring reviews are mostly positive, there are a few concerns buyers should definitely be aware of before they make a purchase.
Untangling Who Makes Which Version of TrafficMaster Flooring Is a Nightmare
Trying to figure out which manufacturer makes which version of TrafficMaster laminate flooring is like trying to untangle headphone wires after you’ve shoved them into your pocket (impossible!)
You might assume that the 7mm, 8mm, and 12mm versions each have a singular manufacturer, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. If you search through several products on Home Depot’s site, you’ll note that the warranty policies largely say the same thing (depending on plank thickness), but the format and branding tend to change.
Why is this the case? The most obvious possibility is that these products don’t share the same maker. That is, Home Depot is sourcing its products from a lot of different manufacturers, including its other in-house brands.
This isn’t a problem in itself, especially considering TrafficMaster flooring reviews are mostly consistent between products, but it does make it hard to pin down where your flooring comes from and some of the finer details—especially when it comes to VOC compliance.
TrafficMaster Doesn’t Offer Anything Special
If you’re looking for something that sets TrafficMaster flooring apart from other laminate brands, you won’t find much. Home Depot’s goal with this product was to make a basic, budget-friendly product.
The Cheapest Options Only Have a Mediocre AC Rating of 3 (and a 15-Year Warranty)
Most TrafficMaster laminate flooring products score a 3 on the AC rating scale. These floors are only intended for light to medium use and are backed by a 15-year residential warranty (lower than the industry standard).
A few TrafficMaster products have an AC Rating of 4 (and a much better 30-year warranty), so these are the products to target if you want something that can handle a bit more daily wear.
TrafficMaster Laminate’s Scratch Resistance Isn’t the Best
One of the most common complaints in TrafficMaster flooring reviews is that the scratch resistance isn’t very good, regardless of its AC rating or plank thickness.
TrafficMaster Doesn’t Offer a Commercial Warranty for Its 7mm or 8mm Laminate
Home Depot isn’t targeting the commercial market with most of its TrafficMaster flooring. Aside from a handful of 12mm options, most of its lineup doesn’t have any kind of commercial warranty at all.
It’s Probably Better to Hire a Pro for Installation
Even though Home Depot markets TrafficMaster laminate like it’s the world’s easiest flooring to install, TrafficMaster flooring reviews tend to disagree to some extent. Many buyers note that the locking system on their floors is flimsy and makes installation overly difficult.
Considering that improper installation voids TrafficMaster laminate’s warranty, it might be safer to hire a professional to minimize the chances of breaking planks before they’re even installed.
If a Plank Gets Damaged, the Entire Floor May Need to Be Redone
On that note: if you have a floating floor and a plank needs to be replaced, there’s a decent chance that you will have to (very carefully) uproot your entire floor to access that broken plank.
This problem isn’t strictly limited to TrafficMaster flooring; it’s a disadvantage of floating floors in general. But given TrafficMaster’s flimsy locking system, this can be pretty daunting—because it’s possible that you might break several more planks while trying to replace the original broken plank.
However, there’s no easy way to sort through Home Depot’s online store to find these products. You literally have to look through all 35 products to see which ones are low-VOC certified.
…Which Means Only Some of Its Products Are Low-VOC
A GreenGuard certification is a good indicator of eco-friendly flooring practices, but these products still aren’t entirely VOC-free. Even 100% synthetic PVC flooring can earn a GreenGuard certification if the manufacturer can demonstrate that the chemical contents are within EPA standards. That said, these products are absolutely more eco-friendly.
The problem here is that most TrafficMaster flooring doesn’t have any kind of health or environmental certification. At all.
No version of TrafficMaster laminate is water-resistant. To be fair, water-resistant laminate flooring is fairly rare (waterproof laminate flooring even more so), but TrafficMaster doesn’t even attempt it.
Synthetic flooring can be noisy, especially if it’s installed as a floating floor without the proper underlayment (WPC flooring is one of the few exceptions). But TrafficMaster flooring reviews seem to highlight this as a particular issue.
TrafficMaster Laminate’s Minimum Acclimation Period Is 2 Days (Which Suggests it May Have Warping Issues)
TrafficMaster laminate flooring has an acclimation period of 2 whole days. Basically, this means the floor has to adjust to the environment of the room it’ll live in before it can be installed—otherwise, it might warp or crack once the humidity or temperature changes.
Many laminate floors have acclimation periods, but 1 day is closer to the norm. Then again, hardy premium products often don’t need to acclimate at all.
TrafficMaster Doesn’t Offer That Many Laminate Styles
Despite the popularity of TrafficMaster laminate flooring, Home Depot only offers a handful of styles. The wood floor colors are also limited, so you won’t find looks that mimic dark options like ebony flooring or even common looks that imitate products like ash flooring.
TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring FAQs
This wouldn’t be a thorough briefing on TrafficMaster laminate flooring if we didn’t round up the few remaining stray points!
Is Trafficmaster Laminate Waterproof?
No. Any liquid spills need to be cleaned up off TrafficMaster laminate immediately.
However, TrafficMaster does make a waterproof vinyl flooring option. Which, to be fair, we would not recommend purchasing either.
Does TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring Need an Underlayment (or Moisture Barrier)?
Yes. All TrafficMaster laminate flooring products need an underlayment so moisture can’t come up from the subfloor (and what is subflooring?).
Fortunately, most underlayments are fairly inexpensive. There are even a few high-tech options available, like underlayments that turn your laminate (or LVP) into magnetic flooring that’s super easy to install.
How Do You Clean TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring?
Like we said before, you only need a dust mop or vacuum to clean TrafficMaster laminate.
Home Depot also says you can use water-based laminate cleaners if you dry any wet spots right away. However, don’t use any harsh chemicals (like those you might use to bleach wooden floors) because they will eat away the floor’s wear layer.
Can You Install TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring Over a Radiant Heating System?
Some TrafficMaster laminate flooring can be installed over the same type of systems that might be used for heating a wood floor. Refer to a product’s individual warranty first to be safe. Like we mentioned, there are a lot of variations between individual TrafficMaster laminate products.
How Long Does Trafficmaster Laminate Flooring Last?
It’s very unclear how long TrafficMaster laminate lasts. Again, this goes back to the many different manufacturers that Home Depot contracts to build it.
Our advice: go by the product’s warranty. Most of the best laminate flooring products don’t last more than 25 years. It’s probably safe to say that TrafficMaster’s lifespan is shorter.
What Other Types of Flooring Does TrafficMaster Make?
Peel-and-stick vinyl plank flooring is more of a temporary solution, and we would hesitate to even call it “luxury” vinyl. That said, TrafficMaster peel-and-stick vinyl is well-reviewed and often costs less than $1 per square foot. But we still wouldn’t recommend using it as a long-term option.
There are hundreds of TrafficMaster carpet styles available, many of which enjoy surprisingly solid reviews. TrafficMaster also has its own line of peel-and-stick carpet tiles (here’s how to install carpet tiles, if you’re curious). Unfortunately, despite the plethora of options, you’re unlikely to find many low-VOC carpet options here either.
If you’re debating between TrafficMaster carpet vs. laminate, the quality difference seems to favor the carpet. Of course, carpet is also an entirely different flooring experience.
Thought we were done? Nope! TrafficMaster also has a line of ceramic tiles, including the wood-look tile that’s so popular in today’s kitchens and bathrooms. In a surprising departure from Home Depot’s usually DIY-friendly intentions, TrafficMaster doesn’t offer snap-together tile flooring—or any other types of tile, for that matter (like natural stone).
Comparing the quality of TrafficMaster tile vs. laminate reveals that both lines meet expectations for “budget” flooring. TrafficMaster tiles are good, but a very common complaint sourced from TrafficMaster flooring reviews is that they’re poorly cut.
Oh, but unlike other types of TrafficMaster flooring, the tile doesn’t suffer from an identity crisis. All ceramic tiles sold under the TrafficMaster banner are made by Armstrong Flooring.
Other: Garage, Gym Flooring, and Floor Mats
The complete TrafficMaster flooring catalog also includes garage flooring, gym flooring, and even a few outdoor flooring options. These are also budget options so expect low prices and moderate performance.
Bonus: TrafficMaster Also Makes a Popular Underlayment
One of TrafficMaster’s most popular products isn’t actual flooring, but underlayment for engineered hardwood and laminate.
Conclusion: Is TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring Worth It? TrafficMaster Reviews are…Mixed.
Ultimately, TrafficMaster flooring does exactly what it’s supposed to: perform as a super-budget flooring option. It doesn’t try to outclass better brands like Pergo (read our Pergo reviews here), but it costs less—and in areas that don’t see a lot of foot traffic, it gets the job done.
In the case of TrafficMaster laminate flooring, it’s a classic example of you get what you pay for. To reiterate the point we’ve been making throughout this piece: it’s not one of the best laminate flooring brands in the world, but it works and it’s fairly inexpensive.
If that’s your bag, TrafficMaster flooring is a great choice. If you want something with more oomph, there are so many better options, especially at your local flooring stores. Ask your local retailers—they’re the real experts!
Or, if you’re still undecided, check out the articles below for more excellent flooring ideas. And either way, thanks for reading—good luck on your flooring search!
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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