Laminate flooring has a photographic image of wood, stone, brick or other materials on an aluminum oxide layer. This process makes laminate flooring significantly cheaper, because you get the look of a tougher material without the cost associated with wood and tile. Laminate flooring can be made to match almost any material; the fact that it is not the material itself is relatively unnoticeable to the untrained eye. Laminate is also easy enough to install without purchasing expensive tools or hiring expensive contractors. If damage or wear occurs, laminate tile is also cheaper to replace. Keep in mind that the lower cost of laminate flooring means that it will not add the same value to your home as real wood, marble or stone flooring.
Laminate flooring is easy to maintain because it has a layer of laminate backing to seal the flooring against moisture and pest damage. This moisture-tolerant property makes laminate an ideal flooring for bathrooms, kitchens and other rooms with high moisture content. Stains and spills wipe easily from the sleek laminate surface, and it can be easily cleaned with a broom and damp cloth mop. If mops are not wrung out properly, however, water can seep in around baseboards and seams and cause water damage. Laminate flooring is not resistant to scratches, so you will have to be careful about dragging furniture or heavy items across the floor. Unlike real wood flooring, laminate cannot be sanded to remove scratches; if severely damaged, it has to be replaced.
Laminate flooring will last for a maximum of 20 years in your home if maintained according to manufacturers' instructions, but it may last for only 15 years in areas of high traffic. Real wood or tile flooring can last for 100 years if properly maintained. Most laminate flooring is resistant to moisture, which prevents warping, but glueless laminate flooring is highly susceptible to water damage and may need to be replaced often. If not placed and secured properly, or if placed on an uneven subfloor, laminate flooring can peel away from the floor and require replacement.