Do NOT put laminate in a kitchen or bath

laminate-wood-flooring-in-kitchenLaminate flooring and stainless steel appliances are the fashion for homes and apartments (at least in the Pacific Northwest).  And for good reason.  They look sharp (particularly under halogen track lighting!), are easy to keep clean, and easy to maintain.

BUT, there is a down side to putting laminate flooring in a kitchen or bath.  Laminate flooring has a foam backing typically that makes the floor softer to walk on and easier on the knees and legs.  Cool feature, right?  Except when you have a water leak!  Laminate flooring — particularly at the lower end of the cost/quality scale — is porous and liquids can penetrate between the boards.  When that happens the liquid can be absorbed into the foam backing and trapped.

If you live in a mold-rich environment like the Pacific Northwest you are asking for a HUGE mold problem.  We recently had a situation where a refrigerator leaked water onto a laminate floor in a downstairs, daylight basement unit.  First off, there isn’t a ton of ventilation in the unit owing to the fact that one entire wall is underground.  It didn’t help that the tenants were using a humidifier for their children’s illnesses or that they were steam cleaning the floor.  But we believe an unreported leak in the refrigerator was the main culprit.

The leak seeped into the hardwood and a fresh, large crop of mold ensued!  The tenants were forced to move out and the owner had to pull up the flooring, clean the mold off, and re-install.  Not a fun (or cheap) affair.  Had the kitchen had vinyl or tile flooring there would not have been this issue.

This is just a word to the wise: if you are considering installing laminate, go forit.  Just don’t use it in the kitchen, bath, laundry room, or anywhere else that has a plumbing fixture.