The Problem with Cheap Laminate Flooring

May 24, 2022

Everyone enjoys getting a good deal. Modern consumers are particularly adept at sniffing out the best discounts and finding price comparisons for great brands they like. While affordable does not always mean low quality, choosing the right floors is usually more complex than finding a pair of shoes for sale.

Laminate flooring has been popular in South Africa for a few years, and more brands are manufacturing designs that fill the range between entry-level and high-end options.

Sadly, the problem with cheap laminate flooring is that it is simply not going to give you the same performance as better-quality products. This means you will end up wasting your time and money. If you are seeking affordable wood laminates without an exorbitant price tag, we can help you.

THe problem with cheap laminate flooring

The Manufacturing Process Plays a Role

Understanding how wood laminates are made will enable consumers to select a product that works well for them. Though these options look like real hardwood, they merely replicate the look and feel of it.

The problem with a solid wood floor installation is that it can quickly become pricey. Wood laminates create the same aesthetic at a fraction of the price. Even though they are some of the most affordable products on the market, people still seek out cheap options, which can lead to issues.

This type of laminate flooring is made up of several layers:

  • This includes a bottom layer,
  • a high-density fibreboard (HDF) core,
  • a decorative layer with a realistic image that emulates wood,
  • and a wear layer that protects the plank.

Because there are recycled hardwood fibres in the core of the plank, this option is not always suitable for installations in high-moisture areas like bathrooms or kitchens. High-end products, however, display superior water resistance and can endure much more exposure to water before they are affected.

Products with thicker cores also add to the stability of each plank. Choosing a cheap option with a thin core won’t be as durable, which is a problem in many homes. Thicker cores also make up for a subfloor that is not as sturdy, adding firmness and steadiness underfoot.

How the AC Rating Impacts Price

The wear (also called the “finish”) layer is what gives each plank most of its durability and performance. On high-quality laminate flooring products, this wear layer is exceptionally thick and resilient, protecting the product against scuffs, scratches, dents, stains and the problem of fading from sun exposure.

It’s a tough design that allows it to withstand heavy foot traffic, making it a great option for commercial settings too. Any manufacturer worth their salt will also include an AC rating in their range. Top Carpets and Floors recommend using nothing less than an AC 3 product because of the climatic conditions in SA.

The AC (Abrasion Criteria) rating ranks each product according to how well it withstands certain applications. The rating is categorised from AC1 to AC5, and the higher the rating, the more resilient the laminate flooring product.

AC5 wood laminates are ideal for heavy commercial environments, while AC1 is best suited for light to moderate residential use.

The problem with ignoring the Abrasion Criteria rating system is that people tend to gravitate towards a lower AC rating, which will usually be cheap but not necessarily right for a certain space. Installing a product designed to withstand only light foot traffic in a very busy room, for example, is never wise.

Laminate Flooring

Comparing Cheap Laminate Flooring with High-end Products

Several top brands on the market offer a wide range of wood laminate flooring, from entry-level designs to superior planks that bring a touch of luxury to any room. A good rule of thumb is to purchase the best product that you can afford, and not simply settle on something because it is cheap. The problem with cheap options is that you won’t reap the full spectrum of benefits if you install it, which include:

  • Quick installation: Cheap laminate flooring takes more time to install because the locking system is inferior. Better products offer a seamless installation experience.
  • The guarantee lasts longer: Go for a product guarantee that is sure to last you a long time. This may be more expensive initially, but it means you won’t need to replace the installation as often.
  • Better resistance to damage: Flimsy designs are more prone to damage, which is a problem when you are trying to save money. Many options on the market today offer exceptional resistance to water damage, scratches and abrasion, but they will cost more. The upside is that you will have a long-lasting installation that won’t quickly show wear and tear.
  • A realistic decorative layer: To an untrained eye, high-quality wood-look laminate flooring is indistinguishable from real wood. The print layer is hyper-realistic, and the wear layer can even be embossed to emulate wood. The problem with cheap products is that they generally look inferior and not as real.

Buying a branded product is also no assurance that you will be getting a great installation but doing research will help you make a good decision. At Top Carpets and Floors, we specialise in laminate flooring, and we will gladly assist you with selecting something phenomenal from one of our world-class ranges. We will also handle the installation for you – no problem. To view our extensive collection of stylish laminate flooring options, click here.

For more pricing information, download our free Carpet, Laminate & LVT Pricing Guide today.


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