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Laminate loved for its look

Erin Fletcher
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Mar 01/04) - The wood-look and low maintenance of laminate flooring has made it very popular with many NWT residents, say local flooring company managers.

"It's a really durable product," said Bob Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Flooring Ltd. in Yellowknife.

"The biggest, newest thing is laminate flooring," added Gerry Black, general manager of Arctic Interiors in Inuvik.

Laminate flooring is essentially compressed saw dust, sealed with a plastic surface. Although it looks like hardwood, it is more durable, cheaper and easier to install than a traditional wood floor, said Black.

"You don't have to glue (the flooring) down, it just floats on foam," he said.

Warmth is the one thing wood has over laminate. But there is a laminate alternative -- cork.

"We get a lot of inquiries about cork," said Fitzgerald.

Compressed cork flooring comes in a variety of textures and colours and features a click-in system of installation, just like laminate flooring. Once the cork is installed it is coated with three coats of polyurethane for protection.

"It feels soft but will take a lot of wear," Fitzgerald said.

It's also more environmentally friendly than laminate flooring, which has oil by-products like plastic.

Homework is the number one thing customers should do before they buy any kind of flooring, said Fitzgerald.

Whenever a new customer comes into Fitzgerald's Yellowknife store, he asks them a few questions to determine what their flooring needs actually are.

He said flooring is as individual as the person buying it.

And so is their choice of colour and pattern.

Linoleum floors -- which are essentially a paper pattern print covered in resin -- come in hundreds of patterns.

"Hard flooring is usually a fashion statement," said Fitzgerald.

"You are usually buying a pattern style ... you should think ahead and decide if you'll be happy with it 10 or 15 years down the road. You'll get tired of it before it wears out."

Get a good installation

While labour can be expensive, getting a professional to install your flooring might save you in the end.

"If you ever have a problem after the installation is done by a company or through a company, there is supposed to be assurance it's been done properly," said Fitzgerald.

He said a warranty is less likely to be questioned if the product was installed by a professional.