by Nikki Willhite
Out of all the decorating decisions I have made for my homes through the
years, my recent choice of laminate flooring for my current home was one
of the hardest.
I have had small amounts of laminate flooring in my home before, but choosing a
color and style to replace so much carpet throughout my home was not an easy
choice. Laminate lasts for years. If you make a bad choice, you are stuck with
If you are choosing laminate for several different rooms in your home, such
as the family room, kitchen and bedrooms, you are dealing with different colors,
varied windows treatments, and many types of furniture. It can be difficult to
choose a laminate that will look good in all the rooms of your home.
It would have been easier if I was willing to settle for a very "safe" solid
color laminate, but I wanted something different. I have been so "safe" for
years with my decorating decisions, I knew that I could do something a little
different and more of my personality in my home. I was willing to go out on a limb,
so I had a lot of options
I would have loved to install real wood, or even engineered hardwood. If you buy
real wood on sale it is not that much more money than a good quality laminate.
The kicker for us was that the installation cost was much higher for wood than
laminate. My husband has reached the point where he
just can't do much work on his knees, nor does he possess either the tools or
the skill to do it. So laminate it was.
One for the first things we did was to compare the quality and price of laminate
at the stores in our area. It didn't take long to discover where we would buy
it. We found Lumber Liquidators had not only the greatest selection, but the best prices
on laminate and installation.
Then came the "shopping trips." I use the term "shopping" loosely. I must have
made a dozen trips to the same store. The more I went, the more I changed
my mind and the more confused I became. I couldn't decide if I wanted to go with
modern gray tones or warmer brown tones. Then there was light floors vs. dark
floors, and different patterns. Throw in rustic versus smooth and my head was
We also soon realized we needed to learn a lot more about laminate. Not all
laminate is created equal. Higher quality laminate is more durable and looks
more like real wood. We had to decide on a hardness rating in addition to the
price. We also learned that if you got laminate with a "V Grove", it looked more
After reading reviews and studying all we could about laminate we made the decision not to
go lower than 10 mm on the thickness of the wood and that we would buy a quality pad to put
Then we started taking home samples- lots of samples. As I suspected the darker
just too dark for our home in Seattle. Since I have always liked light wood, it
was an easy decision to limit ourselves to a lighter color. We also decided that
although we liked the rustic look, we didn't live at the beach or in the
mountains and it didn't feel right for our traditional home. I
found myself increasingly attracted to floors that were smooth with a little
gloss, so we added that to our list of decisions.
Finally we were down to the color and pattern. I think part of the problem of my
indecision was that
what I really liked was some of the wood I couldn't afford. However, there was one
design of laminate that appealed to me. It was a bit quirky, and at first my husband just rolled his eyes.
he realized it met all the criteria (price, V-Groove, color, smooth, slightly
shiny exterior), he eventually started giving it more serious consideration.
The month we purchased our flooring, that particular flooring was featured on
the front cover of the store's decorating magazine. It looked awful! However, I
was pretty sure it was because this warm light and medium flooring was
photographed in a room with battle gray walls.
I could not be certain I would like this flooring. It was far from a safe choice.
I knew I was going out on a limb, but when my husband finally agreed with me we
decided to pull the trigger and get it. I had hope that I was going to be very happy
with this flooring, but I also knew things could go terribly wrong.
As gut wrenching the process was to choose the flooring, the install was even
more difficult. Unless you want to pay a lot more money for your installation,
you have to remove all your furniture from your rooms and pull up the old flooring
yourself and dispose of it. Pulling up and disposing of old carpet is quite a
In our case, we decided to do the project in stages. These "baby
steps" made it easier and gave us someplace to store the removed furniture.
I do not recommend changing all your flooring when you've been living in a house
for over a decade and you have limited strength. We had some help from our sons,
or we couldn't even have done it. As it was, it took forever, and about killed
However, in the end it turned out well. The chance I took on my flooring worked
out. I love it. I still can just sit and look and admire the different patterns
and the colors. It was just what this old house needed to make it more casual and
give it more personality. The pattern is called Rocky Mountain Maple and
you can get a good look at the quirky pattern in the picture at the bottom of
I have found it wonderful living with laminate. Removing the carpet made the
house very fresh and clean. Laminate can make an older house feel like a new
house. We had a lot of unexpected pleasant surprises with the laminate.
The heavy dining room chairs which we struggled with on the carpet are now easy
to slide out. It is easy to move all our furniture around. Cleaning is
easier. Having the house wheelchair friendly will be a good selling point
if we decide to leave and is good insurance for our future also.
Should you decide to put laminate or wood in your home, do your homework. Don't
be rushed into a decision that will affect you for a long time. Consider all the
factors, and give it some time. You may change your mind a few times until
you finally feel confident in your decision. Finally, no matter how pretty
the choices that you find above your budget, remember to do what is best for
your pocketbook and your family.