There are numerous options available when choosing any laminate flooring. Because these materials can be printed to look like anything, you can find laminates that reproduce the look of natural materials such as exotic hardwoods, natural stone, bamboo, or even cork. This makes it easy to find a material that matches the aesthetic and mood you are trying to evoke. The design options may be slightly narrower than with residential flooring, but you will still have dozens, if not hundreds, of options to choose from.
The natural appearance of a laminate floor can be reinforced through the use of special underlayment installed beneath the flooring in order to reproduce the sound of hardwood floor when you walk upon it. Details like beveled edges can also add a decorative aesthetic appeal.
“Eco-friendly” choices are increasingly available. Laminate flooring is made from chemically produced plastic resins and adhesives, so it is not inherently a green building product. Neither will old laminate flooring be easily recyclable when it wears out. While the core material is usually a composite of wood materials that can theoretically be burned or recycled, the surface wear layer includes aluminum oxide, which can neither be burned or easily recycled. The reality is that most old laminate flooring is destined for traditional landfills.
But there are several ways in which manufacturers accommodate buyers who are interested in earth-friendly products. Sometimes the flooring is produced using a healthy percentage of recycled materials; such products are openly marketed as such. Laminate flooring that is installed by “click-lock” technology that floats over the underlayment is inherently safer than flooring that is glued down with petroleum-based adhesives, which off-gas VOC compounds. Any building material containing plastics has the potential for off-gassing some dangerous substances—specifically formaldehyde, and laminate flooring is no exception. Pay attention to the ratings information when you shop for laminate flooring: Laminates with lower levels of formaldehyde will carry an E1, E0 or CARB P2 label.
In some cases using laminate flooring can even be “green” enough to earn LEED credits, helping to brand your company as being ecologically aware.