Choosing between laminate and carpet flooring

Choosing between laminate and carpet flooring

Laminate flooring’s popularity is growing fast in NZ, although it’s still got a way to go to catch carpet flooring.

When you’re deciding between engineered wood, laminate and carpet for your flooring, you’ll likely find that laminate and carpet flooring are the two least expensive choices. They’re also the most straightforward to install.

Laminate flooring is considered more hygienic and hypoallergenic than carpet, as it is easy to clean, and dirt won’t go unnoticed.

Carpet tends to retain dust and pollen, stain more easily, and build up mould and mildew when exposed to moisture, making it a less desirable option for those who struggle with allergies.

The two flooring types are similarly priced, but high-end “high pile” carpeting will likely cost much more than high-end laminate flooring. Installation costs must also be considered, with the click-lock planks found with laminate flooring making installation relatively easy and popular with the do-it-yourself (DIY) crowd. Carpet is generally installed by a professional carpet layer, thereby increasing costs even further.

Carpet, which is made from wool or a synthetic fibre, such as polypropylene, nylon, or polyester, is attached to a backing that is nailed or stapled to the floor and any padding underneath. Laminate flooring is a multi-layered synthetic product made from wood fiberboard materials and melamine resin. One layer of laminate flooring is dedicated to a photographic appliqué that imitates wood and sometimes stone.

Appearance and Composition

Laminate flooring is usually made from high-density fiberboard or wood particles. There are typically four layers in a laminate flooring plank, including a stabilising layer, a layer of treated high-density fiberboard, a photographic pattern layer, and a clear melamine resin layer. The clear, hard layer is placed on top of the other layers to boost durability.

Carpets come in many different styles, including woven, needlefelt, knotted and tufted. All styles have an upper layer of pile – the frilly, soft yarns that stand up on the flooring — attached to a backing.

Modern carpets often provide ultra-soft fibres and stain resistance, by way of technology that tightly combines synthetic molecules close together, making fibres smaller in diameter.

While most carpeting is made from petroleum-based synthetic materials, natural wool is the softest and most durable option. It is, however, also the most costly. As such, nylon, which is the more durable of the synthetic carpet materials, is the most commonly used material in the construction of carpets.

Both carpet flooring and laminate provide users with a wide range of design options. Laminate tends to come in trendy designs mimicking natural flooring options, such as wood and stone, while the range of colours, patterns, and piles of carpet available are almost limitless.

Carpet is the warmer option, often used in bedrooms where one is likely to be barefoot. It is also an acoustic insulator, cushioning noise caused by movement. However, there are special underlays available in the market for use with laminate that act as insulation, reducing heat loss by up to 30%.

Laminate flooring does not absorb sound quite as well as carpet, so is noisier to walk on. High-tech acoustic underlays are used with laminate to help reduce noise, and these are quite effective.

Laminate flooring tends to provide a more versatile base for interior decorating due to its resemblance to natural wood. One generally won’t have to worry about clashing colours; a consideration carpeting may necessitate. Bright or decorative carpets may suit one’s style now, but might be difficult to incorporate into new décor choices in the future.


Many homes use a combination of carpet flooring and hardwood or laminate flooring. Carpets are not a good choice for kitchens and dining rooms, for example; laminate will work better in those situations. Bedrooms tend to use carpet more often for their warmth and softness.

Laminate works better if you are a landlord and need durable flooring options for your rental property because carpet tends to show more wear and stains from mud and liquid spills.

Health Concerns

Laminate flooring tends to be easier to clean than carpet flooring and is thus considered more hygienic and hypoallergenic. Especially since the top producers in the world like Krono Original offer an antibacterial coating on their laminate floors.

A study of carpets showed high levels of dangerous bacteria, hidden dirt, pollen and dust mites, suggesting consumers are unable or unwilling to clean their carpets properly.

It is common knowledge that old carpet can aggravate allergy symptoms, as the fibres catch and hold dirt, allergens, pesticides, and toxic chemicals. In an attempt to address allergen concerns, today many carpets are made with more earth-friendly chemicals and fewer chemicals altogether, so low-VOC (volatile organic compound) products are available for sensitive consumers.

Flooring Installation

Carpet can be installed over many materials, from concrete to wood, and can hide slight irregularities in a floor. Carpet and underlay are first trimmed to the correct dimensions, and then the two layers are installed with nails or staples, and seams are glued down. Installation in a large room requires stretching of the carpet and special tools. Although users can install carpet themselves, particularly with some “peel and stick” brands making DIY jobs easier, carpet usually requires professional installation.

Laminate flooring can be installed on top of almost any existing floor, but if the special preparation of the floor is required, users may need professional services. Click-lock laminate flooring products make DIY installation easier, and also lower the costs of professional installation due to the speed and ease with which the planks can be installed.


Carpet usually lasts 5-8 years (average quality); 10-12 years for top quality carpet.

Good quality laminate flooring is less prone to some of the issues that plague hardwood. Most laminate floors will need to be replaced after 20-30 years. Lower quality brands will need to be replaced sooner.

More expensive laminate flooring is often a better investment, though some carpet provides a cheaper option should users wish to renovate more frequently. Modern carpeting is more durable and stain-resistant than in the past, but it’s accepted that it won’t last more than 10 years in any areas with

Maintenance and Replacement

Spills on carpet should be cleaned immediately to prevent stains and mould. Mats placed at entries and exits help to keep dirt off carpets. To guarantee cleanliness, carpets should be vacuumed twice a week in low-traffic areas and more often in high-traffic areas. They benefit from a deep-cleaning hot water extraction cleaning every 12-18 months. Leaving pools of water will damage laminate flooring and carpet, both of which may then require replacement.

Unlike hardwood and some better engineered hardwood, laminate floors cannot be sanded and refinished. Also, laminate may warp in high-moisture areas, such as bathrooms, particularly if the installation is not done correctly. Users should place protective pads on the bottoms of chair and table legs to prevent scratching. Manufacturers suggest lightly-damp mopping (not wet mopping!) laminate floors clean using laminate cleaning solution.

When carpet is damaged, you will need to replace the entire area of carpet. Laminate flooring by comparison offers the advantage that small sections can be replaced, as needed, to repair damages.


The range of costs for both products depends on the country of origin, quality and style selected.

With carpet, a higher, plusher pile tends to equal greater expense, and wool is the most expensive fibre used in the flooring. When it comes to laminate, homeowners should be careful with cheaper brands, as they may not be as durable. The most expensive laminate is ‘AC5 Heavy Duty Commercial Rated’ as this is the most durable laminate available.

When comparing prices for laminate and carpet, be sure to factor in the warranty period. Laminate floors can be significantly cheaper if they are not very high quality and only offer a 10-year warranty. Higher-end laminate will provide a better warranty (20 to 30 years) and will stay looking better for significantly longer than carpet.

Resale Value

If you ask real estate agents most of them will tell you that a hardwood floor adds better value than carpet flooring. Laminate flooring can give the highly sought-after hardwood look for much less. Though buyers will know it’s not hardwood, a laminate can make a home look more modern and open, adding a more sophisticated atmosphere to the home.

Environmental Considerations

Laminate flooring can be recycled, with some manufacturers able to reuse up to 80% of materials.

The pile of carpeting is made from nonrenewable materials, and small amounts of unhealthy VOCs can be released from installed carpets due to the chemicals used in manufacturing. VOCs can be released for up to 5 years, though this chemical release, known as off-gassing, lessens with time.

For this reason, homeowners are recommended to keep rooms with new carpet installations well-ventilated for at least 72 hours, post-installation. Vacuuming new carpet flooring with a HEPA filter vac and using hot water extraction cleaners can help remove VOCs. Though there are more green carpeting options available that use renewable materials and avoid dangerous chemicals, these options come at a higher cost.

Are you keen on considering European-made laminate flooring from Laminate Direct?

8 laminate flooring installation tips that will stop you wrecking your new floor!

8 laminate flooring installation tips that will stop you wrecking your new floor!

Before you start the installation on your own, it is a good idea to get a few laminate flooring installation tips. When you take the necessary steps to prepare for the installation of laminate flooring, you will avoid common mistakes and achieve a significantly better installation result.

The installation process is not complicated, just a process that requires time and patience.

Read our list of the eight ways to prevent the biggest mistakes that can wreck your laminate installation. You can also download the PDF version of this document.

Undercut doorframes properly and finish well, for a premium look.

Take your time to complete your work the correct way. Undercut all door-frames, use the right trims and matching silicone to fill any small gaps. Existing skirting should be removed and then reinstalled over the top of the new floor, rather than using a small quarter round trim against the skirting which can look inferior. Time taken to finish the floor properly makes a huge difference to the appearance of your flooring. Poorly finished laminate floors bring a poor impression of the interior.

Leave adequate expansion gaps.

Smaller rooms such as a 3m x 3m bedroom will be okay with say 8 to 10mm of expansion gap around the perimeter (hidden by skirting). However for bigger spaces as well as commercial installations, above 13 metres in length at least 12-13mm clearance against walls is necessary. If you do not leave enough expansion gap, the floor can expand into walls or vertical surfaces, causing the floor to buckle.

Using the wrong trims.

Using the correct shape trims with laminate flooring is crucial. The trims must allow for expansion and contraction of your laminate floor. Typically we use a U-shape trim that will hold down the laminate and allow expansion inside the trim. These trims can be powder coated to your colour of choice if required. Never use an L-shape tile trim with laminate flooring as the floor cannot expand against these trims.

Any window joinery at ground level (such as ranch-slider joinery) also needs a U-shape trim along the length of the joinery to hold down the laminate and allow expansion contraction. Some installers just leave a gap and put silicon. However, this method is not technically correct. Most likely the silicon will deteriorate over time, and gaps will appear in it, especially as the floor will move as you walk over it (without having a trim to hold it firm in place).

Tap laminate only if manufacturers allow.

New generation laminates are constructed to “click” together. There is no need to tap the edge of the boards unless directed in the flooring installation guide to use a tapping block. By hammering planks together, you will damage the high-tech locking system and your floor will not lock properly.

Installing wood laminate flooring under kitchen cabinets.

Floating floors need to expand and contract freely. By installing laminate all the way under heavy kitchen units, you are creating a ‘pinch-point’, and the floor can no longer move as necessary.  During winter and summer, your floor will expand and shrink with humidity fluctuations. If the floor cannot expand and contract freely, then it may start lifting in some areas.

Always install laminate around the kitchen units and islands – you can install to within about 1cm of the internal feet. Kick panels should be fitted last to complete the kitchen area.

Unintentional installation of wrong or defective laminate planks.

Inspect all laminate planks before installation to ensure they have the correct pattern, style and colour and are free from visible defects. Once the wrong or damaged laminate is installed, it’s hard to replace it. All manufacturers of laminate flooring will not pay labour charges or replacement on claims filed for materials installed with obvious visible defects. If you find any flaws, contact your laminate supplier for assistance before continuing with the installation.

Installing flooring over an uneven sub-floor.

The quality of your sub-floor plays a very significant role in the performance of your laminate flooring. Many older houses have imperfect sub-floors and need additional levelling to ensure a level substrate. Even new concrete slabs can be quite uneven. An uneven sub-floor will result in your laminate floor moving up and down as you walk over it. The end effect over time will be a damaged locking system, micro-gaps between boards and poor floor performance.

If your sub-floor has major problems, do not expect that a good underlay and thick laminate will take care of it. In most cases, you do not need the sub-floor to be perfect, but you should level it to an adequate standard. Check the manufacturer’s minimal requirements or install to NZ flooring standards; ask your supplier for more information on sub-floor requirements.

Wrong underlay choice.

Laminate flooring requires an underlay underneath the flooring. That is mostly to help your floor to “float”, to help absorb small undulations or bumps as well as to reduce walking and impact sound. There are several underlay choices on the market – some only offer ‘impact sound’ reduction going through to the levels underneath. Other underlays provide both high ‘impact sound’ and ‘walking sound’ reduction (these more advanced underlays, such as SELIT Aquastop, are mostly manufactured in Europe).

It is important to use a waterproof underlay when installing your laminate over concrete. Even old concrete slabs hold moisture that will migrate into the underside of the laminate floor, causing excessive expansion unless there is a waterproof underlay barrier between the concrete and laminate.

We hope you learned a lot from the above laminate flooring installation tips. Keep in mind that you can always count on our German-trained installation team.

Laminate Flooring Durability

Laminate Flooring Durability

Laminate flooring durability is rated according to a special classification, from the AC1 up to AC5 which is the highest rating.

The AC rating is the measurement which specifies the durability level of laminate flooring. AC ratings are applied to laminate floors by an independent organisation known as European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF). These ratings provide a summary of a laminate’s resistance to stress and abrasion, helping buyers understand the difference in durability among laminate flooring products.

To assign an AC rating, a series of tests are performed to assess each line of laminate flooring for resistance to scratches, impact, burns and stains. These tests also examine the effects of furniture legs, castors and thickness swelling along plank edges. Laminate flooring is given a rating only if it has passed all of the tests, as failing a single test disqualifies the product.


  1.    AC1 – Moderate Domestic: Only suitable for light residential use such as in closets or bedrooms.
  2.    AC2 – General Domestic: This class of laminate can handle moderate foot traffic and can also be used in the majority of rooms such as dining rooms or living rooms.
  3.    AC3 – Heavy Domestic/Light Commercial: Suitable for every room in the house, including high-traffic areas. Also suitable for commercial spaces with light traffic (such as small offices or hotel rooms).
  4.    AC4 – Heavy Domestic/Medium Commercial: Suitable for all residential uses as well as commercial spaces with heavy foot traffic like offices, cafes, and boutiques.
  5.    AC5 – Heavy Commercial: Suitable for commercial use in high-traffic spaces like department stores and public buildings.

Based on the above, AC4 is the most widely used laminate flooring, suitable for heavy domestic and medium commercial use; however, AC5 Heavy Commercial laminate is becoming very popular not just for commercial projects, but also for residential buyers who want the most durable floor surface possible.

We hope you enjoyed our explanation of the laminate flooring durability classification system.