About to spend a lot of money... is this the right choice??

kmgardSeptember 25, 2011

We're getting ready to buy laminate floors for our living room and hallway. We live in a ranch style house -- the kind where you walk directly into the living room with no foyer. We have been living with disgusting, 17-year-old carpet in there for 4 years, and it's time for something new! We don't want to put more carpet because it's such a high traffic area and we have 2 rowdy dogs, which is why we're leaning towards laminate. We know wood is great for resale (we'll probably be moving in about 2 years), but with the price point of our house, we just don't want to spend too much (and we're installing ourselves, so laminate will be simpler).

Anyway, does anyone have any experience with Lamett Charisma collection floors? We're looking at the Cosmopolitan color. It's a 12mm thick high gloss floor -- just gorgeous in person. I'm a little worried about the glossy finish though and whether it will stay looking so nice -- especially with our dogs. Also, we're considering ordering from fastfloors (dot) com. Does anyone have experience ordering from them? They seem to have the best price (over $1 per sq ft cheaper than our local place).

I would appreciate any advice you could give! Thanks!

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I'm not familar with that floor but high gloss might not be the best way to go, especially with dogs. A more matt or low gloss would be a better choice.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 2:04PM
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Sophie Wheeler

No high gloss. It's hard to maintain and shows every hair your dogs shed and every scratch that they will make. Wood would be a much better choice than laminate as the scratches can be sanded out and it can be refinished. If you're planning on DIY, then wood is a much better choice as you can get nice wood floors cheaper than laminate would cost. Especially by the time you factor in a decent underlayment for the laminate and the hit you'll take at resale for having them. As a buyer, I'd rather have cheap new carpet than cheap new laminate.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 4:50PM
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We also have a ranch style house - very similar to yours. We are also getting ready to put in laminate through the family room/utility room/kitchen/living room. We thought that glossy finish would be too difficult to keep clean looking - that every little bit of dust would show. We have opted for handscraped - have you considered that? It has the rustic, old time look, and a few scratches should blend right in with what is there from the factory - although it sounds quite durable, has a great warranty.

We are going with Mannington Restoration and found a virtual store on ebay that is able to beat the *best* price of our local retailer by almost a dollar/square foot. Also no sales tax. We're getting it for $3.09/square foot. This online store has been terrific to work with, and we feel great about the product...

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 3:07PM
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You would be wasting your money and replacing it well before your two year time-frame! Laminates are a poor choice for high-traffic areas that will have to be mopped frequently. The problem with laminates is the core board underneath the top layer...it is not WATERPROOF and with frequent mopping, the moisture causes the core board to swell, much like particle board furniture does when you leave a something wet on it. Also, after the initial finish wears off the top layer, it WILL scratch; so that beautiful HG finish would look horrible in no time with your dogs tracking in and out.
A much better choice for your environment would be a solid vinyl tile like Naturelle by Congoleum...it's water-proof when glued down with pressure sensitive adhesive, has nano-silver so it's anti-microbial, and it has a ceramica finish that features a 25 year wear warranty. I LOVE this product...best thing I'm seen in my 30 years in the flooring industry. You will have to pay a little more for it than the cheap laminates...the cost of Naturelle varies nationwide; it runs around 1.99 sf. There is also a less expensive version of solid vinyl that is 1.49 sf called Project Flor...same product without Nano Silver technology. Still a GREAT floor. Both products come in hardwood and ceramic looks. Hope you see this post before you waste your money on a laminate!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 9:27AM
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I actually responded after the first 2 posts -- not sure where it went! Based on the opinions, it looks like we should maybe avoid the high gloss route.

However, just for clarification: The laminate we're looking at is not "cheap" laminate. It has some pretty decent specs -- I'll attach the link at the bottom. Also, we already have laminate in our kitchen and I love it. I just want more of a "wood" look in our living room and hallway (the one in the kitchen is more of a stone pattern). I understand what you mean about the water damage -- we actually had that happen once in our kitchen due to a faulty back door. However, I haven't had issues with cleaning because we don't mop it (that would be against cleaning recommendations) -- I use a cleaning fluid and dry cloth to clean it.

My good friend actually installed congoleum in her kitchen. She has the tile look and while it does look great, I don't want a tile look in our living room. You say they have a wood look, which I'll probably look into, but it's not going to feel hard like wood, so I'm afraid it will be quite obvious that it's fake... you know?

I'm not convinced wood would be better to DIY than laminate, since the laminate is a floating floor and we'd have to nail/glue wood. I'm not super confident in our DIY skills for that. :) I will look into the hand scraped too -- and thanks for that online store recommendation!

Here is a link that might be useful: Lamett Charisma

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 8:53PM
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My husband and I have researched the whole flooring thing quite a bit. My understanding is that laminate can look and sound cheap, but if you get the good stuff - at least 8 mm thick (ours is 12 mm) and has overall good specs, then that's a start. Also get good quality underlayment - that helps avoid the sterotypical laminate sound. Laminate had a deservedly bad reputation until recent years, but then they came out with better materials - I think it was the zinc top coat that did it, that was about 7 year ago - that improved the entire laminate durability. The improved laminate is only very recently becoming known in the USA. But it is important to get quality. Although that's probably true with any flooring material.

We know that hardwood can be refinished and all, but we can't imagine ourselves ever refinishing a hardwood flood. It sounds like an incredible pain!

The "virtual" store we're using on ebay is called ecomoso. She's a good seller (100% satisfaction from her customers), terrific pricing. We found the product we wanted to use in a "real" store, then went to the online store and ordered it from her. She doesn't have overhead to speak of - no showroom or staff - so I think that's why her prices are almost wholesale. Also I don't see your product in her line - and it looks like good stuff - she might have something similar. Also, do you *really* need a lifetime warranty? Could you save a bit of money by going with a lesser warranty? Just a thought..

As far as water damage - isn't it true of most flooring, other than maybe sheet vinyl - you don't want standing water on carpet, hardwood, etc. The flooring might be damaged as well as furniture, etc. I'm going to just use vinegar and water (standard recommendation for laminate and inexpensive), with a *damp* (not wet) mop.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 9:23PM
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I've had a good wood laminate in my kitchen, entry and a half bath for 10 years, and it still looks new. In that 10 years, we've had a leaky dishwasher that sparked a kitchen remod due to damaged wood cabs (but the floor was fine), a leak from a loose connection on the fridge icemaker, two Chows and a BMC being their normal rowdy selves, etc - no damage to the floor. It's been cleaned with just water or water + vinegar.

We're getting ready to do the entire first floor living area in a wood laminate - unfortunately will have to replace what we've already got because we can't match it. I personally think that the key to preventing water damage is to float the floor, but edge glue every plank to prevent water from leaking between planks - regardless of whether it's a 'click-lock no glue' product or not. Several flooring stores have told me that they will do this and agree with my reason for wanting it.

And yes, I do love hardwood and could actually get hardwood cheaper than the commercial use rated laminate, but I'm on a slab foundation which would require a lot of extra work (and raise my floor level) to keep real wood planks from buckling. Engineered wood isn''t an option with big dogs' claws, either - can't imagine that thin veneer of wood not looking hideous within 6 months in their traffic patterns. I looked at all the options - including tile, stone, etc. - and have settled on wood laminate being the best option for our home and lifestyle. It can look fabulous and wear like iron as long as you get one that's rated for commercial as well as residential use and edge glue the planks. Just my experience/opinion, I know others vary.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 7:04AM
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Edge glue? I've heard of this. What product did you use? I think it would make sense in our kitchen, especially in the sink/dishwasher area. I'd planned on getting a waterproof mat for that area - maybe edge glue would be better. I think the rest of the house will be fine. We really don't have water/damp issues at all in our living room, for instance.

Our cat sometimes has digestive (tummy) upset - will that be a problem? Of course, we wipe it up right away.

Our flooring - which will be delivered this week! - is rated at 25 years residential/5 years light commercial. That should do the job, I hope. It's just the two of us, with occasional visitors, but we're in and out of the house all day. We don't wear muddy shoes in the house, and nothing like high heels, so our floor won't be abused (!). But we're still hoping the new floor will hold up well and that we won't have to worry about it as we did our carpet.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 1:45PM
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@Gladys - I'm not sure what glue the installers used when they put down my current laminate, but I'm sure any marine-type glue would do the trick since they're rated to be waterproof. All you have to do is as a plank is ready to be laid, run a thin bead of the glue down the lockdown edge and then slide/click it into place - when the glue dries it will have sealed the miniscule gap between the microbevel edges of the planks. That's what I saw the installers do last time, and what I'm insisting on this time. We've also had zero plank shift in 10 years - the extra case of it we bought in case a plank had to be replaced is in our attic, still sealed - never needed it.

No worries about your cat - I've got two elderly cats and have had to clean up lots of tummy issues residue; it's never damaged the floor in any way. I love the floor - if my hooligan dogs and my geriatric cats can't destroy it, I know it's a tough product! You'll love it too, I have no doubt!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 5:58PM
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I have followed this whole strand. My understanding is that you are all talking about wood laminate, Pergo and the many other brands available now.

It is meant to be a floating floor, with 1/4 inch from the edge (approximately) so the floor has a give to it. Gluing down the edges seems counter to how the product should be installed. Hopefully a more experienced floor person will weigh in. Until then, I'd discourage you from gluing a wood laminate.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 12:50AM
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Sophie Wheeler

The term "wood laminate" really bugs me because of the insidious sneaky marketing that's tried to insinuate that laminate is somehow wood. It is NOT wood, nor has it ever been. The more accurate term would be "plastic picture of wood" laminate. You can get actual from a tree wood for the same price as a good laminate. Guess which adds value to your home and guess which doesn't? Guess which adds to the landfills in the future and which can be refinished? Even engineered wood can be refinished in the future if you choose correctly.

Flooring should not be looked at as a "temporary" solution that can be discarded later in favor of another style. That's fickle consumerism gone amok. Flooring is part of the home's infrastructure. As such, it should be chosen as a investment in the home's longevity of existence.

I'm not saying that laminate doesn't have it's place, such as when you're renting an apartment for a temporary design change, but the whole idea of laminate is based on it's impermanence. Laminate is like a rug, not the stone floor that the rug is laid over.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 12:37PM
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I've had hardwood floors in two different houses that I've lived in. In both houses we found that floor type too difficult to maintain - and refinishing it would have been too much work. We either covered it over or ripped it up. Not exactly permanent.

Many of the laminates currently available have warranties of 25 years or more - probably longer than we (at least my husband and I) will live in this home. After that - I wouldn't be surprised if the next owners of this home will replace it with something more to their liking. Why not?

As for laminate not looking exactly like wood - I've been told that many of the better quality materials are hard to distinguish from wood. But if it does look a bit fake - heck, I don't care! We'll be putting down a synthetic rug in front of our (real) wood burning fireplace - on top of our fake wood floor - and we'll enjoy every bit of our real/synthetic life!

Each to his own. Some people want hardwood floors - more power to them! Some of us love laminates - rah for us!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 4:36PM
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"About to spend a lot of money... is this the right choice??"

You know in your heart it's NOT the right choice, or you wouldn't be asking. "A lot of money" on a laminate is always a poor choice. Spending the same amount on a good domestic hardwood in a medium tone is the best flooring that you can "invest" your money in.

You just bought a brand new Chevy Aveo with every conceivable option that doubled the price. It's value continues to go down as soon as you drive away. It will never be "worth" anything again. Now, if you had spent that money on one of the Smart cars, it's value would also go down as it was used, but it would begin to recover as it became a collector's item because of it's styling.

Just say, "no to faux". You will regret it sooner or later.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 11:57AM
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Okay, I've been doing some traveling and haven't had a chance to follow up on this post in a while.

I have to say, I understand where people are coming from when they say laminate seems "temporary" or not as good of an investment. That said, my husband is in the military -- I know we're only going to be in this house for another 2 years or so. So if you're talkin' from an investment standpoint, you lost me at "get hardwood instead." I know it has a higher resale value, but if we get hardwood, we would have to have a professional install it (not comfortable with DIY), which would make it significantly more costly than our high-end laminate of choice. Also, we don't want to go too high with the upgrades in this house for the price point, or we will never get back what we spend.

So really... I'm not debating whether we should get hardwood -- I'm just trying to figure out what laminate to get. I said it's a lot of money because any new floor is a pretty big investment. :)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 3:54PM
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Whatever laminate you get, think seriously about getting something with a nonglossy finish. A glossy finish will be much more difficult to keep looking clean and pretty looking. It will show *everything*. If you can justify it economically, get the thick stuff, with a good underlayment - to avoid the clacky laminate sound.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 4:32PM
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We're in the flooring business. I personally love hardwood the best. But that's not what you're questioning. My husband is not familiar with that brand of laminate but he said the finish on good quality laminate should not wear off even with the dogs and in fact will last much longer than a finish on hardwood. He also echoed that good underlayment is important. And he said that gluing the edges on a floating floor is a good idea and does not impact the movement because it will still move as a whole. He said gluing the edges is only really necessary where there is potential water damage such as bathrooms and kitchens and is not necessary anywhere else. Good luck. Hope you enjoy your floor!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 9:48PM
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They are gluing the planks together, not gluing them to the subfloor.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 9:11AM
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kmgard - that place has some stone look laminate that looks like something I'd like... i have found tho that most i like online are off color to what it is in real.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 4:27AM
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Hello, anyone have ideas on ease of installation of click together engineered vs. laminate? High traffic kitchen/ walk through area, one dog, concrete slab above ground. Not so sure it is level though, 100 year old house with kitchen addition. Any suggestions for newbie diy couple? thanks pls respond to haymom247@aol.com

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 7:04PM
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Not sure it is level, dog, heavy traffic - I'd suggest laminate over engineered for durability. Think of the ease of scratching wood laminate furniture, and then extrapolate that to a floor - I cant imagine any engineered floors that could stand up to my dogs' wear patterns, but i know laminate can. I think the installation level of effort is about the same between the two products, but for potential wet areas such as a kitchen, adding edge glue to the click edges will give better water resistance.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 1:19AM
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