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Today, we’re going to discuss the best brands of laminate flooring and what makes them so great. We’re also going to talk about the brands that you’d do best to avoid. This will help you make the best decisions when it comes time to select your flooring.
Before we get to our reviews, let’s look at a quick rundown of our top picks.
- Dream Home
- Select Surfaces
It’s important to note that these brands aren’t necessarily equals. Many of them are designed for a particular use, but we’ll get more into that in a bit.
Now that you’ve seen what we consider the best, let’s take a look at a couple of brands you want to avoid.
“But wait”, you say. “Isn’t Armstrong one of our top picks?” Indeed, it is. Read on to discover how this is possible, and what you can do to avoid it.
7 Best Laminate Flooring Brands (2020 Updated)
When it came down to it, these two were just too similar to rank them any other way. In fact, they are manufactured almost identically.
Pergo is not only the first to manufacture laminate flooring, but they are also the best. And when Mohawk acquired them in 2013, they adopted their expert craftsmanship. So while the two brands operate independently, they are one and the same, using the exact same method of manufacturing laminate flooring.
If you really wanted to split hairs, Pergo gets the nod because they are the ones responsible for Mohawk being the quality brand that they are today. Had it not been for their acquisition, who knows where they’d be.
What Makes Them So Great?
Both brands are made with longevity in mind. If you want flooring that’s guaranteed to last, you go with either brand. All laminate flooring looks beautiful when it’s new. But if it isn’t made well, it will start showing in a matter of years.
By incorporating the following into their laminate, there’s little doubt as to why both products look so good after years of service.
This locking system ensures that your laminate flooring stays firmly intact. This prevents moisture from getting in between the planks, regardless of how many planks a board has.
All of both brands laminate flooring is coated along its edges with this durable sealant.
Not being content with just Hydroseal, each brand adds further protection by coating the design layers and edges with GenuEdge.
Nearly all of their laminate flooring is rated AC4. This means they are durable enough to withstand both commercial and residential traffic, greatly reducing the chance of scratches and tears.
Thanks to this quality, you can safely mop your laminate flooring worry-free. That means accidental spills can be cleaned up without cause for concern. Pergo’s water-resistant laminate is called WetProtect, as where Mohawk’s is RevWood Plus.
While Mohawk has a greater variety, Pergo has a select amount of unique entries. These combine to deliver some truly excellent options for laminate flooring. If you want natural woods, you should go with Pergo. If you’re looking for as much choice as possible, check out Mohawk’s 150+ styles.
Between the two, you will find plenty of finishes that include semi-gloss, matte, and satin. Depending on your tastes, each finish provides just the right amount of sheen. Why is this important?
Some sheen shows dirt more so than others. If your laminate floors are highly-trafficked, you may want a sheen like satin or matte that hides dirt and footprints better, thus reducing how often you need to use your laminate floor broom.
While they don’t have the greatest warranties available, they are still pretty darn good. Take, for instance, that a lot of their laminates have 10-year commercial and lifetime residential warranties.
It’s no secret that laminate is rarely recycled due to the difficulty in doing so. That’s why it’s nice to see Pergo and Mohawk’s laminate flooring is GreenGuard-certified. What does this mean? It means their laminate has low VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
Not only that, but it’s also CARB2-compliant. CARB2 (California Air Resources Board’s Phase 2) is a strict standard that ensures a product isn’t made with formaldehyde. This is important in keeping breathable air quality pristine in indoor environments.
You will often see products labeled as “NAF” (No Added Formaldehyde) when they are compliant in this area.
So, what does all this mean for you, the consumer? You can look forward to your new laminate flooring being safe for all family members to be around, pets included. Those who have respiratory problems can breathe easy knowing the laminate isn’t polluting the air around them.
It’s also safe for young children and pets to crawl on, since they are closer to the ground. Both brands get a tip of the proverbial hat for ensuring their laminate flooring meets these strict guidelines for public safety.
You can read about specific products below.
Pergo: 4.75 out of 5
Mohawk: 4.5 out of 5
Shaw Laminate (Runner-Up)
Founded in 1946, Shaw is a huge manufacturer of carpeting and other types of flooring. So much so that they rake in more than $6 billion a year in total revenue.
Why Did We Choose Shaw as Runner-Up?
Just as with the last two, Shaw has a lot of respectable qualities that put them ahead of their competition. Let’s take a moment to talk about Shaw and why their laminate flooring is so spectacular.
Shaw’s Repel is the number-one top seller for water-resistant laminate. It’s so good, in fact, that it will resist absorption for a full day (24 hours) in the event of a spill or flooding. Factor in their large selection of styles and variety of collections, and you’re looking at a winner.
There are so many color options available in Shaw’s Repel Laminate, giving you plenty to choose from. What’s more, you get these styles in different formats to best suit your needs. Planks of various lengths and widths are there for the choosing, serving to give your home an authentic look while making installation easier.
Any time laminate flooring carries an AC4 rating, you know you’re getting a product you can depend on. This means it’s durable and long-lasting, making it a safe fit for residential or commercial use.
If the AC4 rating didn’t do it for you, the included warranties likely will. You’re getting a handy 5-year warranty for commercial use. But if you’re putting it in your home, Shaw gives you an impressive 30 years of coverage.
Made in the USA
For those who prefer to support locally-made products, Shaw is a great pick. Shaw’s headquarters is located in Dalton, Georgia, and their laminate flooring is made right here in the United States.
With so many laminates crafted in other parts of the world, it’s nice to know you can still buy American-made flooring.
Armstrong Laminate (Best Selection)
While many of the laminate flooring leaders offer a nice variety of flooring options, no one comes close to Armstrong.
Why Does Armstrong Have the Best Selection?
With more styles to choose from and a huge amount of budget-friendly options, Armstrong caters to the needs of everyone.
Whether you’re looking for beautiful stone tiles or authentic hardwood, Armstrong’s massive selection of styles has you covered. In fact, no other brand comes close to the realism that Armstrong provides.
That includes styles like limestone and granite that you just can’t find anywhere else. If you want your laminate flooring to have some unique character, go with Armstrong.
Armstrong’s water-resistant flooring, Audacity, is hands-down some of the very best when it comes to protective flooring options. It is extra durable and a breeze to maintain. Audacity sports the latest designs, down to realistic embossed features that make their floors stand out among the competition.
Not only are Audacity water-resistant laminates built tough and made to last, they are also backed by excellent warranties. For commercial use, you’re getting 15 years of coverage. And for residential, Armstrong gives you protection for a lifetime.
So we now know that Armstrong’s selection is better than all other laminate flooring brands. But did you know that they also offer some of the best-priced? For their lower-quality laminates, you can expect to pay less than a $1 a square foot.
Mid-range laminates are generally priced anywhere from $1 to $4 a square foot. And this is what makes Armstrong such a great buy. Their lower-quality laminates are still pretty good, meaning you can get decent laminate flooring at an affordable price.
Obviously, the higher-quality selections go up in price. But even then, they are less expensive than most of the competition. When you factor in Armstrong’s excellent Audacity water-resistant flooring and the staggering amount of style options, there’s little doubt as to why they have the best all-around selection.
Like their flooring selection, Armstrong offers a good amount of floor cleaners. Whether you need multi-surface, vinyl, hardwood, or laminate, Armstrong has a cleaning solution to fit your needs.
Armstrong: 4 out of 5
AquaGuard Laminate (Best Water-Resistant)
You can get water-resistant laminate flooring from just about any of the top brands. If you recall, Shaw’s Repel flooring resists water for 24 hours. The only brand to do it better is AquaGuard. Their laminate protects flooring for an impressive 30 hours! This is very important because it’s very hard to fix laminate floor water damage.
Why Does AquaGuard Have the Best Water-Resistant Laminate?
While many of the top brands coat the edges of their laminate flooring, AquaGuard does it twice. This ensures that you’re getting the very best when it comes to moisture protection.
Double-coating their laminate flooring’s edges isn’t enough for AquaGuard. No, sir. On top of that protective feature, they also offer their “Pet-Friendly” warranty. What does this do? It ensures that their laminate won’t stain in the event that your pet messes on the floor.
But wait, there’s more! That’s right, AquaGuard goes above and beyond by offering 15 years of coverage for commercial use. And for residential, you can look forward to protection that lasts a lifetime.
As with the other top brands, AquaGuard offers a great selection of flooring options to choose from. From high-gloss to natural textures, AquaGuard has you covered with over 100 different styles.
If you’ve been keeping score, you likely noticed that most brands until now have had an AC4 rating. With AquaGuard’s AC5 rating, their flooring is suitable for medium to heavy traffic. You’ll see floors like this in retail stores, restaurants, and even schools.
Dream Home (Best Value)
This Lumber Liquidators-exclusive laminate flooring is designed solely for residential use.
Why Makes Dream Home the Best Value?
Simply put, Dream Home delivers the goods at a reasonable price. Their quality may not be the best of the best, but it’s good enough for most homes and comes at an affordable price.
When you can pick up most of their laminate flooring for anywhere between $1.49 and $1.99 a square foot, you’re getting a pretty good bargain. Tack on some excellent features and you’re looking at the clear winner for overall value.
Many of their flooring is backed by a lifetime warranty. That’s great and all, but on top of that, you also get many that have water-resistant warranties.
Their low-cost laminates are already highly-affordable. But Dream Home has some lesser-quality laminates that can be nabbed for under a $1 a square foot. If you’re on a tight budget or need to cover some defective area in a rental, this is the flooring for you.
While it’s nowhere near the selection of brands like Shaw or Pergo, Dream Home does offer a respectable amount of styles. With more than 30 to choose from, you’ll have no trouble finding woodgrains and the like.
There are many thicknesses at the ready, too. And, to make installation easier, some have padding already equipped.
It’s really quite impressive how well Dream Home’s X20 water-resistant laminate flooring holds up compared to the competition. Sure, it’s not nearly as good as AquaGuard. But then again, who is? However, compared to the likes of Shaw’s Repel or Pergo’s WetProtect, X20 is pretty evenly-matched.
Thanks to low VOCs, Dream Home’s laminate flooring is safe for indoor use. You won’t have to worry about your air quality, as there are no toxins emitted from the materials used.
Dream Home: 3.50 out of 5
Tarkett (Best Cheap Laminate)
This Menards-exclusive produces laminate flooring of all qualities. But where they really shine is with their cheap options.
Why Is Tarkett the Best Cheap Laminate?
When you can pick up quality laminate flooring for around $1 (or less), you know you’re dealing with something special. Prices typically stay within 99₵ to $1.19 a square foot. And you can choose from a commendable selection of styles to match your needs.
You’ll notice that this is the lowest rating we’ve mentioned so far, but don’t let that deter you. Although you certainly wouldn’t want to put this laminate flooring in a business, it works just fine for home use.
To give you some peace of mind over that AC3 rating, Tarkett includes some pretty decent warranties on their laminate flooring. For residential use, you’re looking at 25 years. And for commercial use, well, there is none. Remember, this stuff is rated for residential use only.
After seeing all the previous brands offering lifetime warranties, 25 years may not sound like a lot. But really, this is quite good when you compare it to others. Take Home Depot, for example. They sell TrafficMaster laminate flooring and include only 15 years of coverage. Ouch. Twenty-five years doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?
Select Surfaces (Best Lesser-Known Brand)
If you’re not a regular shopper of Sam’s Club, you’ve likely never heard of Select Surfaces. It’s actually a pretty decent laminate floor manufacturer that holds its own for a few reasons.
What Makes Select Surfaces Stand Out?
Quite frankly, it’s pretty good stuff. They offer different qualities of laminates, mostly mid- to high-grade. We like that many of their selections come with padding already equipped and ready to install.
Let’s get this out of the way: you’re not going to find anywhere near the quantity of options that premium brands offer. You’re looking at around only 20 or so unique styles. But that’s OK. What they do offer looks great, and it is leagues better than what other lesser-known brands have in stock.
We really appreciate the fact that Select Surfaces backs their laminate flooring with solid warranties. For commercial use, you’re looking at 10 years. But with residential, you get a fantastic lifetime warranty.
Select Surfaces: 3 out of 5
Alright, we’ve looked at some of the very best brands you can go with for your laminate flooring needs. Now let’s talk about the ones to avoid.
Out of all the laminate flooring sold at Home Depot, TrafficMaster is the worst. This is especially noticeable when you compare it to other brands they carry, like Pergo. Side by side, there’s simply no comparison.
What Makes Them So Bad?
It just isn’t good laminate. It’s inexpensive, sure. But it’s also very poorly made. Affordable or not – you can pick up TrafficMaster for as little as 68₵ a square foot – you’re likely going to be very disappointed not long after installation.
As we mentioned earlier, Home Depot offers a pretty abysmal warranty by comparison. You’re looking at just 15 years, a far cry from the 25 and up that other brands provide. There are a couple that come with 25-year warranties, but that’s it; just two. All others are 15-year warranties.
You can actually find a decent amount of styles to choose from. But while TrafficMaster’s laminate flooring looks pretty nice when you first install it, it’s pretty short-lived. Most wear out in less than 10 years.
TrafficMaster: 2.75 out of 5
Armstrong (Low-end laminates)
Remember how we said Armstrong is both one of the best and one of the worst? This is how. They can’t be beaten when it comes to selection. They offer more variety than any other brand. And while their Audacity line comes with excellent warranties, their lesser lines do not.
Why Is Their Warranty So Bad?
Upon first glance, it would appear that they offer a decent warranty. But once you read the fine print, it all falls apart at the seams.
Armstrong’s lower-end laminate, known as Timeless Naturals, comes with a 20-year warranty. But hey, that’s better than Home Depot’s 15-year warranty they offer with TrafficMaster, right? Well, not so fast. While you would certainly think so, it is, unfortunately, not so cut and dry.
You see, after the first year of ownership, that warranty becomes prorated. And for every year that follows, 5% of the coverage falls off. Doing the math, after 10 years, Armstrong is only going to cover 50% of the warranty in the event that there’s a problem. Who wants to deal with a headache like that?
Some warranties are a lot better than others across the various brands. But Armstrong’s Timeless Naturals has to be the worst.
If you want to go with a brand that offers the most comprehensive warranty, go with Shaw. Not only do they cover manufacturer defects, but also fading, wear and tear, and stains. You certainly won’t get that from Timeless Naturals.
Armstrong (Timeless Natural): 2.50 out of 5
We hope you found our buyer’s guide useful in your quest for the best laminate flooring. Always remember to read the fine print for details concerning warranty and what the manufacturer actually covers. You will save yourself a lot of headache and heartache in the long run.
We hope that you got all the information necessary to get the best brand of laminate for your home. If you’re not completely sold on laminate then you can read about the pros and cons of laminate flooring for more information.