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A Brief History of Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is easily the newest type of floor covering on the market, and continues to build strength. High-Pressure Melamine laminate had been used as a material for kitchen countertops, tables and other household hard surfaces for years, but it was considered too weak to stand up to the kind of wear caused by everyday foot traffic. But in the early 1980s, Swedish manufacturers created a product that started with a dense paper base, then had special resins mixed throughout the paper to give it strength, then had a paper with a design placed on top. The whole thing was then placed under extremely high pressure, which bonded the layers together. The resulting product was far stronger than the laminate currently in use, and over the years became even stronger.

Laminate became popular quickly as an alternative to the hardwood floors available at the time. While hardwood was packaged mainly in extremely long planks that required special transportation, laminate boards were half that length and easily carried in the average car. Additionally, hardwood floors of the time required a professional to install correctly, while laminate floors had an easy glue-down"floating" installation that could be placed over any subfloor, even existing flooring! As a result, the product created a new do-it-yourself flooring market that is still very much alive today.

Over the years, the popularity of laminate spread from Sweden to the rest of Europe, then expanded to the US and other countries, and is still spreading today. The product line of laminate has grown from wood patterns to stone, tile and more, and new advances in technology have made them increasingly realistic in appearance. They have grown even stronger, becoming more resistant to wear and able to handle all types of traffic in any environment. And with new advances developing all the time, laminate has proved to be a strong force in the floor covering industry and arguably has driven the fast technological innovation in both hardwood and vinyl floors trying to compete.