What is laminate flooring actually made from?

We all kinda know what laminate flooring is: it looks like wood but it’s not really wood, it’s very smooth and shiny, it comes in boards that click together, it’s quite cheap compared to other materials. You know – laminate flooring! Many of us might even have it in our home, and experience its benefits underfoot every single day. But what is laminate flooring actually made out of? If it’s not real wood, then what exactly is it? In this post, we unravel the mystery of laminate flooring once and for all.


The process of lamination

Firstly, let’s make it clear that laminate is not itself a material as many people seem to think – it’s neither foraged from the wild nor is it made from scratch in a lab. Rather, laminate flooring is made up of several different materials that have been fused together through the process of lamination. When we speak of something being ‘laminated’, we’re talking mainly about the process by which it is made, rather than the materials of which it is composed (which could be anything from wood, to glass, to plastic).

So what is lamination? In basic terms, it’s a technique for permanently synthesising separate materials into one multi-layered whole, with each layer having its own function that contributes to the overall quality of the product. The ultimate aim is usually to make a more durable material out of separate materials that aren’t too durable in and of themselves. Such laminates can be forged via adhesive, pressure or heat. In the case of laminate flooring, the individual layers are pressed into one single material using high-temperature hydraulic rams.

The process extends far beyond laminate flooring, of course. Other examples include certain engineered woods, such as laminated veneer lumber and cross laminated timber, or laminated paper as seen with photograph paper and paperback books.


The many layers of laminate flooring

So we’ve established that laminate flooring is made up of multiple layers. But what exactly are those layers, what are they made of, and what are their separate functions? Laminate flooring is generally composed of four distinct layers:


  • A wear layer composed of a clear and protective material which prevents the floor from damage, granting it a longer lifespan and a nice clean finish. Although not essential, some laminates have a water-resistant coating above this layer to further prevent absorption during those intense moments of spillage.


  • A photographic layer or decorative layer – named as such because it’s there to give the floor a certain appearance. This layer takes the form of a melamine impregnated sheet printed with photorealistic renderings of wood, stone, tile, etc.


  • A core layer does all of the laminate’s heavy lifting, supporting a good deal of weight and providing stability to the entire floor. The material here is High Density Fibreboard (HDF), which consists solely of compressed wood fibres (though sometimes includes synthetic resins for additional waterproofing properties).


  • A balancing layer or backing layer which absorbs moisture and sound, as well as contributes to the overall structural integrity of the laminate compound.


Laminate flooring usually strikes a perfect balance in terms of aesthetics, functionality and price. At Hudson Flooring, our beautiful range of laminate floors is certainly no exception! Perhaps it’s time to stop asking what laminate flooring is made from and start asking which brand is best for you. For expert advice and assistance in finding your perfect floor, just get in touch with a member of the Hudson Flooring team and we’d be delighted to help.