One key advantage of laminate flooring is the speed at which it can be installed compared to alternative products. Wilsonart's new One Step Stair Tread extends this advantage by allowing installation in a single step rather than having to follow the more time-consuming traditional procedure of placing two planks and one nosing on each stair.

All flooring products, whether hard or soft surfaced, have a unique set of aesthetic qualities and performance characteristics. Laminate flooring is no exception. The keys to the retailer's success with laminates boils down to being able to communicate to the consumer the product's considerable benefits and employing a set of laminate-specific sales tactics to close the transaction.

First, let's review the most beneficial characteristics of laminate flooring. The product is highly durable, as well as easy to clean and otherwise maintain. Laminates will not wear, fade or stain. And should the floor be damaged, it is fairly easy to repair.

From an aesthetic standpoint, laminates feature beautiful patterns and visuals. In addition, they are warm and comfortable to the touch. And in terms of health and hygiene, laminates do not harbor allergens.

Explaining and demonstrating the product's attributes will pique the customer's interest in laminate, and a well-thought-out strategy will help you close the sale. I urge you to incorporate the following five sales tactics in your presentations to the consumer.

First, qualify your customer. Ask a few questions to get to know your customer. Does he or she have pets? How about children? Explain that laminate flooring is a good option for active lifestyles because of its durability and resistance to impact and stains.

Inquire as to whether anyone in the family suffers from allergies. If so, be sure to point out that a laminate floor does not harbor allergens.

You should also ask the customer if she plans on adding to the installation at some point in the future. Because laminate floors will not fade and there are no-dye lot differences, one can add more flooring with the same design to a finished installation days, months or even years down the road.

The fact that laminate is easy to clean is a homerun. Consumers do not want to be slaves to their flooring selection. Explain ease of maintenance associated with laminate flooring and you will have a very interested customer.

Determine who will be installing the floor. If your sales prospect is a do-it-yourselfer, be sure to highlight the fact that laminate is one of relatively few flooring products that can be installed by the consumer without a lot of difficulty.

Compared to most alternative products, laminate is a relative newcomer to the U.S. marketplace. Make no assumptions -- ask whether or not the customer has heard of laminate flooring. You may be surprised to find out how many consumers are simply unaware of the product. Laminate is still a new product category to the market and all consumers have not been through the floor covering buying cycle. Simply asking the question gives you the opportunity to educate the consumer on the product's many benefits.

Be sure the customer understands that, as a "floating" floor, laminate is not nailed or glued down. Explain that the existing flooring need not be removed prior to a laminate installation, nor does the subfloor have to be perfect. You also should mention that a layer of padding goes between the old floor and the new laminate. Point out that this padding absorbs sound, adds resiliency and also provides thermal insulation properties. And because it is a floating installation, removal of a laminate floor is fast and easy should the customer ever want to replace the product.

These are just a few basic points to keep in mind as you approach a potential laminate sale. For many consumers, a floor covering that possesses all the advantages and style of laminate will be hard to resist.