Traditionally, when aesthetic comparisons were made between laminates and the natural materials they emulate, laminates sometimes were criticized for their flat, almost featureless surface finishes. In short, laminates lacked the tactile feel and surface variations characteristic of natural flooring alternatives.
But increasingly, that criticism no longer applies. Today, laminate manufacturers have mastered new technological processes that are yielding wood-, stone- and ceramic-look floor coverings that, to the non-expert eye, are virtually indistinguishable from the real McCoys.
“This year, it’s all about the texture,” says Mark Kieckhafer, marketing director for Alloc Inc. And for many manufacturers this year, that textural focus is being applied more than ever where the product started out —- in wood floor patterns.
But for observers who recall the look and feel of the laminates that were introduced to the U.S. market almost a decade ago, the realism of today’s generation of laminate product -- and the swift rate at which it has come to fruition -- is nothing short of astonishing.