Starting a renovation, we are one of the first to solve the issue of flooring. Tile, linoleum, natural and artificial stone, cork, even glass and metal – today everything is possible in housing. But still the most popular is the tree. Turning to this traditional flooring, we decide what to give preference to: parquet or laminate? Both are fighting for their “place in the sun”, that is, for a place in the market. Which one will win: ancient natural material or bold modern imitation? Both have merits and demerits.
Parquet is a synonym for quality, say the specialists of the companies that deal with it. Laminate, in their opinion, is more suitable for offices, in houses it is laid only out of laziness, so as not to take care of the coating, or because of lack of money. Anyone who strives for decent quality buys parquet for himself home, which is much more expensive than laminate.
True, they admit, there is also a cheap parquet on the market, but they do not recommend laying firewood on the floor with a choice. Parquet of acceptable quality should cost at least $ 18 per sq. meter.
Naturalness, environmental friendliness – these concepts today can hardly be overestimated. We love wood for its naturalness and warmth. It can warm even the most extreme, minimalist interior. And new production technologies, numerous methods of laying, peculiarities of wood species, infinitely expand its artistic possibilities. Someone chooses a solid parquet, someone a parquet board. What suits you best – decide for yourself. In any case, a wooden floor is the warmest and most comfortable. But if it is varnished in several layers, it will become visually coldish, similar to glass, the natural warmth disappears.
Oil and wax do not hide the beauty of wood, the texture is more natural, and the tactile sensations are incomparably richer. True, the oil coating needs to be renewed once a year. But the pleasure that you get when you step barefoot on a living tree pays off all the costs. Wood is beyond competition, although the taste and preferences of buyers are constantly changing. If 3-4 years ago everyone tried to put beech or oak of the same color and size in their apartment, today interest in exotic species has increased.
As for the quality of laying, as parquet flooring people say, the common problem of the consumer is that he chooses everything separately: parquet, varnish and all other components of the floor. It is much more convenient and profitable to buy a floor covering, prepare the floor, install it together with one and the same company, which will be responsible for the entire result. After all, with the same coating, you can make a bad low-quality floor, or vice versa. The customer does not have to pay for raw materials, but for the finished product. Good companies themselves prepare the foundation and give a guarantee for one year: if the material has passed four seasons and nothing happened to it, then it will lie for a long time.
Now let’s hear what the proponents of laminate flooring have to say. Experts say that four to five years ago there was no good laminate in Russia. The material could serve on the strength of a year and a half. But today he has become different: the new generation has little in common with their predecessors. Its structure (on the right) is similar to the structure of a parquet board (on the left): it is a multilayer material (the name itself is from the English “multilayer”).
Its basis is a panel made of pressed wood ground into dust until crystallization. She is not afraid of water, which a parquet board cannot boast of. Below in the laminate there is a moisture-resistant layer and a sound-absorbing substrate. Above – a decorative layer with a pattern and a protective resin (the wear resistance of the laminate depends on its quality). In the parquet board, the top layer is valuable wood, 3-4 mm. When scraping, the thinnest layer of wood is removed. Parquet board withstands no more than three scrapes.
Nowadays laminate of such quality is produced that even parquet is inferior to it. It has become stronger, as the wood is pressed before crystallization and no longer lends itself to deformation. Any tree (even oak) is soft, its surface is hygroscopic, afraid of high temperatures, when the microclimate in the room changes, it begins to deform. To protect the tree, it is varnished, and all varnishes are afraid of high temperatures and allow moisture to pass through. Sometimes, for additional protection, the parquet floor is filled with a polyurethane coating. But then the parquet loses its appearance, the unique effect of the natural wood texture disappears. Parquet is very capricious in handling. Do not allow dogs to run on it, walk on stilettos or heels with metal padding. And after a few years, any parquet should be looped. This process is very dusty and long. Some people consider parquet to be an environmentally friendly coating, but no one guessed to calculate how many harmful substances, for example, formaldehyde, are released from the varnish covering the parquet. Any tree begins to deform when the microclimate in the room changes..
Laminate flooring does not have all these disadvantages. Its distinctive qualities are abrasion resistance, impact resistance, resistance to the action of household chemicals and ease of installation, non-flammability, hygiene, thermal conductivity (the ability to lay on a heated floor).
Due to the fact that most laminates have a wood grain pattern, this product has come to be called “laminated parquet”. Designers say that this is its main problem – many perceive it as an imitation of wood, as an affordable substitute. For this reason, some love it (“Just like a real parquet!”), Others are dismissive (“I do not like fakes”). But in fact, it has long ceased to be an imitation of parquet, but has turned into an independent and self-valuable type of floor covering from the point of view of decor. It can be not only “under the tree”, but also “under the stone” – marble, granite. Relatively recently, for example, they began to offer new collections with a color image of various objects: flowers, vegetables, fruits.
In the West today they are showing increased interest. If you choose such a drawing, then it immediately becomes clear: this is not a tree, this is something completely different. For example, in the bedroom you can “scatter” blue cornflowers on the floor. And the rest of the interior “pull up” to such a romantic level. Or take and make the floor in the whole apartment completely black. Laminate flooring gives you complete freedom in decor. But the Russian buyer, according to the distributors, prefers a single-color, uniform color. For example, inexpensive laminate “rustic beech”, where dark dies were combined with light ones, turned out to be unpopular in our market. But the buyers fell in love with the “white oak”, which few people could decide on before.
Firms that deal with it are confident that the future buyer will choose convenience and economy, which means laminate. They only advise you to avoid cheap products when buying it, so that one day it does not go out or get wet. Expensive waterproof collections are not afraid of water and do not deteriorate. Another danger of a cheap product: bring home a box, open it, and all the boards will be the same, because unlike a parquet board made of wood, the drawing on the laminate is just a photograph, a stamp. A cheap coating due to the often repeated ornament will look like linoleum.
You should be aware that if a creak occurs after installation, this means that a mistake was made during installation or you purchased boards with a broken geometry. Correctly laid laminate cannot squeak. The famous clatter-like sound arises from the choice of a small coating thickness for a large area. You can walk silently on such a laminate only barefoot or in soft slippers. The thicker the board, the less it sounds. Therefore, if you choose a laminate, for example, for a bedroom, take the one that is heavier in the literal sense of the word. Some companies make sound-absorbing substrates on the back. Foamed polyethylene, which is spread under the cover, also absorbs sound well.
Whatever you choose – parquet or laminate, listen to the unanimous opinion of experts: do not try to delve into all the nuances and problems. Do not play in independence, get used to trust professionals who are interested in doing their job well and soundly.