Friday, 10 March 2017
Floors come in various shapes, forms, and sizes and are made of various types of materials. These include vinyl floors, concrete/cement, tiles, laminate and hardwood, to mention but a few. The scope of the discussions that follow shall narrow down to the laminate flooring by exploring its history, benefits/advantages, downsides/disadvantages, and the various factors to consider while choosing one.
What is Laminate Flooring?
It is a type of multi-layer synthetic flooring product. It is manufactured by fusing together several layers of synthetic fibers in a process called lamination. It is intended to simulate wood or stone or other natural building materials. Its interior comprises fiber board materials and melamine resin, whereas its exterior is coated with an appliqué protective layer. It is quite a popular substitute for traditional home flooring owing to its durable, portable, and easy-to-install nature.
Brief History of Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring materials have a very recent yet intricate history. The first laminate floor was manufactured in the year 1977 in Sweden by the Swedish flooring company, Perstorp Company. It was first marketed in Europe in 1984, and ten years later to the United States of America. Later on in 1996, another Swedish flooring company, Välinge Innovation (formerly Välinge Aluminium) invented the glue-less laminate floor. This was sold under the trade names of Fiboloc and Alloc. Different yet complementary glue-less system for holding together laminate flooring panels was also developed by the Belgian company Unilin in 1997.
Advantages/Benefits of Laminate Flooring
The following are but a few of the benefits and advantages of the laminate flooring:
· Versatile – Laminate flooring, by nature, is quite easy to shape and avail in a wide variety of sizes and colors. This trait grants the home owners the freedom to alter the colors, shapes, and patterns of these floors to suit their unique liking, appearance, and thematic colors. They thus ensure harmony between the floors and the general interior ambience of the home owners who opt to adopt them.
· Durable – These types of floors are very durable. They are very resistant to the common elements of wear and tear such as corrosion, cleavages, rusting, dampening, or scratches, to name but a few. For this reason, they negate the need for constant and endless repairs and maintenance and consequently grant the home owners the freedom to enjoy all that they have to offer. They also ensure greater returns to money for the home owners in the long run.
· Ease of Cleanliness and Maintenance – Owing to the fact that only dry methods of cleanliness such as dusting and sweeping may be used on these types of floors, they are comparatively easy to clean and maintain. They save on water consumption since they are not mopped to keep clean. Home owners who opt to utilize them therefore stand to reap huge benefits in the form of reduced labor and utility costs as well as time. What’s more? No professional or skilled expertise is also required, a fact that greatly saves on money spent.
· Ease of Installation – Installing these types of floors is very simple and self-explanatory. The constituent blocks/slabs simply need to be locked and floated into shape. Any handy person with the most basic of all the carpentry skills is therefore able to undertake the installation process with relative ease. Moreover, the cost of hiring a skilled and professional workman, if need be, is generally lower than those of other types of floors.
· Cheaper – The cost of acquiring and maintaining these types of floors in the long run are both cheaper when weighed against the potential benefits that home owners stand to accrue from them and with the prices of competing flooring types also. Their acquisition and usage do not exert unnecessary financial burdens to the prospective users at all.
· Hygienic – The surface of a laminate floor is designed to repel dirt, dust, and other agents of dirt. They rarely get dirty and are thus less likely to harbor pathogens such as houseflies that have the potential of causing diseases.
Disadvantages of Laminate Flooring
As is the case with just about every other type of home flooring, the laminate flooring also have their fair share of downsides/disadvantages, a few of which are outlined and explained below. Prolonged exposure to laminate flooring has the potential to inflict the following health problems:
· Respiratory Illnesses – These are sicknesses that affect the nasal cavity and the respiratory tract such as lungs, nose, and chest cavity and so on. These could be manifested by coughing, wheezing, sneezing, and sore throat, to mention but a few.
· Skin Infections – When exposed to the skin, formaldehyde can cause skin irritations, itching, and rashes.
· Allergies – Those members of a household that have chronic and persistent respiratory illnesses such as asthma may develop allergic reactions whenever they inhale gases that have a sizable quantity of formaldehyde for too long.
· Cancer – Several studies have deduced that frequent and prolonged exposure to formaldehyde has the effect of causing various kinds of cancer.
Factors to Consider when looking for a suitable Laminate Floor
Several factors ought to be considered before deciding whether to settle on the laminate flooring in the first place
· Final Resource Endowment – Laminate flooring come in various types, sizes and shapes each with its own cost. It is incumbent upon each and every prospective user/home owner to ascertain his own financial endowment first before embarking on the task of finding an appropriate laminate floor that is more likely to suit his needs.
· Special Health Needs – As has been stated above, prolonged and frequent exposure to these types of floors have the possibility of inflicting certain health risks such as cancer, respiratory illnesses, and skin infections, among others. Should a member of a household be allergic or predisposed to respiratory illnesses, then it would not be advisable to opt for these types of flooring.
· Interior Décor – These types of floors come in various colors and themes. Each home owner should therefore look for those laminate floors that rhyme/blend with his own interior décor and other pieces of furniture in the home.
· Intended Duration of Use – Laminate flooring come in various forms. Some variants have multiple durable layers which are primarily designed to enhance their durability. Should a home owner intend to have these flooring as a permanent flooring, then the more sophisticated/durable variants should be chosen and vice versa.
The task of choosing the most suitable laminate flooring may be quite intricate and daunting to an ordinary home owner who obviously lacks the requisite technical background. Home owners in Singapore who are interested in acquiring and adopting these types of floors are thus encouraged to approach only competent, experienced and highly-qualified companies in the course of so doing to be sure of the very best results.