What should I be looking for when I choose laminate flooring? I am building a smallish house, I plan to put in laminate flooring in it. But I heard some horror stories about how some laminate flooring started peeling after a couple of months use.

I am looking for something durable for it's a rental property and the people living in it might not look after it, and hopefully moisture resistant because I definitely do not want peeling floors.

So what should I be looking for in choosing laminate flooring or if there are some kind of tests I should be using to test the quality of the floors panels?

  • As far as I know, by design laminate flooring is not durable, nor moisture resistant. But the technology may have advanced, since the last time I worked with it (3 years ago).
    – Tester101
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 13:47
  • So how long does it usually take before they start peeling?
    – TelKitty
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 14:03
  • 1
    If you want durable to abuse, go with tile. If you want cheap to replace between tenants, go with carpet.
    – mbeckish
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 15:09
  • 2
    For a rental, I'd consider looking at vinyl plank flooring.
    – DA01
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 17:33
  • 1
    @statueuphemism - The problem is that every material has its limits. While laminate is harder to scratch than hardwood, it isn't that hard to do. And once it is scratched, there really aren't any good repair options, as opposed to hardwood which can be sanded and refinished multiple times.
    – mbeckish
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 19:08

4 Answers 4


My workplace installed a vinyl click-down laminate last year in the entry way and a large meeting space. This is a mixed engineering and manufacturing company in the Pacific Northwest, so the flooring has taken a severe beating from boots and heavy equipment being dragged across it, as well as getting soaked from rain being tracked inside. It's held up very well.

In non-wet areas, especially those you may want to look more upscale, you should consider engineered hardwoods. They cost the same amount as good laminate, and you get a real surface rather than printed paper. I recently installed bamboo engineered flooring in my home office for $2.39/sq ft, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Personally I'd recommend a bamboo appearance if you are worried about scratching. Bamboo's appearance hides scratches very well.

In terms of comparing products, go to a store (either home improvement or dedicated flooring) and try and get a hand on whatever flooring you are looking at. Good quality engineered hardwoods should have a plywood-type bottom layer, and if they include a particleboard midlayer, make sure it's a tempered/high-density variety (dark grey-brown). Good laminates should be relatively heavy, and if you want it to stand up to water, should have a vinyl backing rather than fiberboard.

  • Thanks for your advice, I ended up choosing bamboo flooring instead.
    – TelKitty
    Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 4:44
  • One problem with the bamboo flooring, at least the one I am using - it's prone to scratching. There are already a couple of scratch marks on a 2 day old floor.
    – TelKitty
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 9:06

I wouldn't attempt any testing yourself. That's likely to be costly and time-consuming and you may not learn much about real-world wear characteristics.

There are plenty of objective assessments of laminate flooring to be found, and product reviews by actual homeowners are almost more important. Visit a reputable website and do some reading.

The horror stories apply to cheap, off-brand flooring and improper installation. Pergo and other high-grade floors last for decades when not abused. Lay rugs in extreme traffic areas and keep the sand cleaned up and you'll be very happy.

  • The key words here are "when not abused". Unfortunately, in a lot of rentals that is not the case.
    – Tester101
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 18:19
  • True, but if OP provides rugs for the doorway, etc. he should get good life out of a quality laminate.
    – isherwood
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 18:51

Here is the Armstrong website. I had to look it up I wasn't sure who the manufacturer was but I have installed this flooring in some rental properties that have the same situation as you do. it holds up very well when exposed to moisture and even water--it is designed for that and the manufacturer states that it is waterproof. It is not made of the same MDF material as some of the other laminate flooring is.

Check it out and let me know what you think. I have had very good luck with this product. I'm not sure if anybody else manufactures a similar product.


Things to look for:

HDF vs MDF High vs Medium density. HDF is harder, as well as being more water resistant usually.

Sealing edges. The edge instead of just milled is sealed. Some use a waxy coating that with time seals to the adjacent edge. Doesn't make them water proof, but increases the water resistance.

AC rating. 3 is typical, 4 is heavy use, 5 is commercial.

Avoid high gloss surfaces. They show every ding.

Avoid really light tones. They show dirt. Avoid really dark tones. they show damage. Look for a 'red oak', or medium tone that is close to the colour of the substrate.

Most stores will give or sell cheaply samples. Take candidates home and sand through the pretty layer to the underlayer. You will see what you get.

If you are using it throughout the house, consider glueing the edges near places that have high water hazard: Anything in a bathroom, entrance area especially if you are in a snow/mud climate, near sinks.

Generally I wouldn't use laminate in a bathroom or in a laundry room. Instead look at loose lay sheet vinyl. You can float it, or glue it down. Floating requires the same edge clearance system as laminate. In a wet area caulk the edge so water can't sneak around the edge ofthe floor an wreck your subfloor.

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