|Laminate Wood Basics|
Laminate wood flooring is any wood-based flooring material that isn’t a single piece. Typically, that means it’s a lamination of two or more layers of solid wood and/or wood products. These products also are called engineered wood flooring, a marketing term. A laminate wood panel may have a top layer of solid wood or a photo of wood followed by layers of either lower-grade wood or compressed wood all bonded with special glue. The top layer is the one that wears out from foot traffic so you’ll want the thickest layer in this layer or it should be coated with a hard polymer so it doesn’t wear out as quickly.
There are literally hundreds of varieties of laminate wood flooring, some with melamine top layers and some with real wood. Some look like hardwoods while others look like pine or other softwoods. If you don’t find the combination you prefer, check with other retailers in the region or online. The major flooring manufacturers make various product lines for low-, medium-, and high-end retailers, but retailers may only carry one line. So a local flooring store may offer one manufacturer’s top of the line, a nearby building material retailer may carry a more moderately-priced line or one intended for professional installers, and the big discount store will sell the low-end products -- all from the same manufacturer.