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Answered 2008-06-18 20:42:48

I installed Dupont Real Touch elite in our 13 x 12 dining room and I'm very pleased at the way it looks. It is a high-quality laminate with a medium-grade padding preattached to each plank. While this makes for ease of installation, it does prevent you from upgrading the padding because you cannot double up on padding layers. The seams are virtually invisible and the installation was extremely easy once you get the hang of handling the glueless click-lock planks. I was able to install it without damaging a single edge and the precision click-lock system functioned 100% for every plank. The Dupont material has an embossed grain which is matched to the pattern of the printed woodgrain. This gives it an authentic look of real wood. However, that authenticity varies greatly depending on the type of finish you choose, with some species looking distinctly plasticky. The distressed wood finishes and the more recent tile style finishes look extremely good. It is too early to comment on its longevity, because the dining room installation is only 2 years old. However, we have two rowdy boys, and they have not scratched it yet. We had a couple of parties on it, and I was happy to see that it stood up to stiletto heels and street shoes. I feel that it is very robust and will last many years. In contrast, the Bruce oak-plank flooring I installed in the famly room badly needs refinishing after only 5 years. I currently have 240 sq ft of this laminate stacked in my master bedroom acclimating (you must do this). In shopping around for laminate, I did not find a material that compared on price and quality. [Lowes has a very good deal on special orders - 20% off this week.] Some points to consider: * Our dining room is a simple layout - oblong with two open-pan passageways. All the trim and moulding was removed, and replaced with new non-wood materials. That is to say, it was an "ideal installation". It is MUCH harder to fit click-lock type laminates where you have many door frames to cope with. If you have facing doors or doors that are adjacent, you will need to remove at least one full door frame. I recommend that D-I-Yers avoid click-lock in such situations and use tap-and-glue. * You must prep the floor under the laminate. Screw down any loose flooring and fill/sand low spots with s floor filler compound. Do a "squeak test" by walking the floor. * It is worth covering bad subfloors with a rigid underlayment. This can even be useful if you want to level up the thinner laminates to an adjacent tile floor.

The subfloors in my modern tract house are absolute junk, with problems such as board seams missing the underlying joists or nails missing joists. Even after fixing and patching the floor, I overlayed it with 3/8 OSB over rosin-coated paper (prevents squeaking) which is a dirt cheap solution to creating a nice flat surface. Make sure you staple that underlayment down with a fastener every 4"-6" (many fasteners per 8x4 sheet). * You must leave an expansion gap. Given this, it is almost always worth removing the baseboards so that the edge of the laminate goes under the baseboard for a clean finish. If you do not, you have to finish the floor edge with .5" quarter round. This makes it a pain to back up your furniture close to the wall. * Do not install the baseboard tightly against the floor in places where you walk close to the wall. It will creak or click as the floor moves under the base board. * Heavy furniture close to the wall will compress the foam underlayment, causing a slight gap at the baseboard. * I'm very handy with the tools, but I guess that this material is impossible to mend, unlike real wood or engineered wood floors. Hope this helps.

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