If you adore how hardwood floors can add warmth and graciousness to a home but are worried about the price, consider laminate flooring.

You’ll also find laminate flooring that looks as if it’s made of tile (vinyl tile). You’ll also find laminates that look like linoleum.

Laminate flooring is extremely tough and durable. Go ahead, give it all you’ve got: place it in high-traffic areas, walk in your best high heels on it, let your daughter wear her soccer shoes on it (well, maybe only once). Your floor will be able to take it!

Laminate floors are easy to clean and maintain. In fact, regarding taking care of them — they’re practically maintenance free! All you have to do is take a dust mop and a wet mop to them once a week. You won’t have to worry as much about staining as you do with carpet. Just wipe up a spill and most of any sticky residue will be gone. Laminate can be very functional if you have pets — no more stains from pet accidents.

Family members who suffer from allergies also will appreciate laminate flooring since allergens (dust mites, mold, etc.) don’t make their home on laminates as they do in a carpet’s fibers.

Laminate flooring may be less expensive than hardwood, but you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference today. Modern technology is able to create laminates that look almost exactly like hardwoods.

You also can install laminates yourself (just try that with carpet or hardwoods). Many laminate manufacturers make laminates boards that have tongue-and-groove ends, so that you can slide one board easily onto another. Many laminates today also may go right on top of your current floor — no need to take the time or spend the money to have your old flooring removed!

As you shop for laminates, take a look at the various warranties offered by different manufacturers. Warranties can range from five to 20 years. Obviously, the longer you plan to stay in your home, the longer the laminate warranty you’ll want. But if you’re planning on staying put for just five years or so, you can save some money by purchasing laminate with just a five-year warranty.

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