Friday, May 24, 2013

IKEA Laminate Flooring Review

2015 Update: These floors have been installed for well over 5 years now, probably closer to 10. I was there when the packages were bought at Ikea, so they are Ikea laminate floors. However, laminate flooring hasn't been available at Ikea in Canada for a while now and I haven't thought much of it. They do appear to be available in Europe and Australia still. 

I checked the United Kingdom's Ikea website recently, the floor pattern we have looks more like the "oak effect" TUNDRA line than the SLATTEN line I'd been calling it. Also, the longest individual floor piece I measured was 138.5 cm, closer to the Ikea U.K. website's length  specification for TUNDRA of 138 cm than SLATTEN's 130 cm. Using a marked piece of paper stuck into gaps in the flooring, the thickness of the boards also looked closer to 7 mm than 6 mm -- specification on the Ikea website was 6 mm for SLATTEN and 7mm for TUNDRA.

Was there a different pattern or spec back then for SLATTEN when we bought them, or are these TUNDRA floors? I'm not 100% sure and I can't be unless I tear up the floors and look for labeling underneath. The references to SLATTEN have been removed until I get confirmation. Sorry! I really thought these were SLATTEN.


Time for a change. A room is starting to look boring and old, so you go to your nearest hardware store, grab a handful of paint samples, and get ready for a fun weekend of repainting. This simple renovation job is relatively cheap and simple, and it covers five sides of your six sided rectangular prism of a room.

What about side number six: the floor? If you have carpet, you can tear up the carpet and get something new. A concrete floor -- I don’t know where you live -- can be painted and vinyl flooring or tiles can be put down. What if you want wood? Time to tear out your floors and put some in, nail some down to whatever you have now, or lay down some laminate.

The floor has become as interchangeable as the paint on your walls and almost with the same ease. There is a very large market out there for wood and wood-like floor products to satisfy the insatiable homeowner’s appetite for change. Options are numerous with various colours and materials from various manufacturers including Ikea – they jumped in years ago.

It must have been about fives years ago when we decided to replace the hideous flooring sheet (may have been vinyl but wasn’t glued down) in the center of the house. There was an existing hardwood floor below, but it was black from dirt, dust, and who knows what. No amount of scrubbing appeared to make it look better, and it looked like the only solution was to hire someone to sand and finish it. That’s what happens when you neglect something for 20 or 30 years?

Unfortunately, no one wanted to pay for someone to do it, and after a recent live-in renovation, definitely no one wanted to relive the dust. The only option, it seemed, was to put something on top of it. Having just gotten rid of the plastic sheet thing that had been sitting there since moving in, vinyl was out. No one knew how to do tiles and tiles wouldn’t fit in an area surrounded by hardwood floor on 3 sides anyway. Well, thank goodness for our regular trips to Ikea because we knew about laminate flooring and it seemed relatively easy to do. Thus began our adventure with Ikea laminate floors.

Close-up of Ikea Laminate Flooring
Here is a quick summary of the limited amount of knowledge I have on laminate flooring: it should be very hard and durable, and it can come with self-locking panels that don't need to be nailed or stapled down. Various liners may also be available, if required, to provide floor leveling, sound dampening, block water vapour or liquid, etc. From my visits to Home Depot, it appears that you can get real hardwood flooring with the same click-lock system too.

Ikea stocked two lines of laminate flooring when I checked: SLATTEN (CAD$ 0.79/sq.ft.) and TUNDRA (CAD$ 1.49/sq.ft.). One costs about double the other, the double costing one had more options, and it appeared to look nicer. To give you an idea of the cost, a 10'x10' room would be $79+$19=$98 or $149+$19=$168 with just the leveling and sound dampening liner. Add $9 if you need the water barrier (SPARRA). And don't forget your mouldings, tools, and miscellaneous items.

Better View of Laminate Flooring - Ignore the IVAR
Ikea SLATTEN Flooring - CAD$ 0.79/sq.ft.
Ikea TUNDRA Flooring - CAD$ 1.49/sq.ft.
Ikea NIVA Floor Liner - CAD$ 0.19/sq.ft.

Ikea Laminate Flooring Years Later


This was not a typical Ikea project: we had to do our own cutting, measuring, and fitting. First, the NIVA liner was laid down flat on the existing hardwood floor, and then work began on the actual floor. As with typical laminate floor installations, the boards were installed offset with seams staggered so there wasn't a nice solid gap across the floor. Easier said than done.

Initially, we tried to use a handsaw to cut the laminate. Being completely inexperienced, we did not expect it to be so difficult. A few boards and half a day later, someone ran out to get a really cheap jig-saw. Everything got much easier after that. We just wish that we had an actual work bench with clamps. A miter saw too maybe. Regardless, after the jig-saw, the boards were laid out, measured, cut, and snap-locked.

Years after the installation job, someone told me about how I wasn't supposed to use a saw to cut laminate flooring. Well, it turns out there are special tools that use a blade to cut laminate smoothly. They're guillotines (flooring cutters) that kind of look like weird paper cutters. Having had no experience with them, I have no clue how they work, but do some research. Regardless, I would be extra careful using whatever to cut the boards.

To top everything off, the edge moulding was partially installed. This job was never really finished as you can see in the picture below.

Foam Floor Liner under Laminate -- Great Workmanship
These flat floor boards won't fall over, but do they shift or move? Properly installed and locked in place with no nails or staples holding it down, our floor has not shifted or caused issues once in about five years.

Expandability / Customizability

You could leave the liner in place and put in a different colour laminate. It'd be like repainting your room?

Everyday Use

It's not hardwood. Laminate flooring is cheap, but it definitely doesn't look like hardwood flooring. The multi-decade (possibly 100 year old) waxed wood floor has much more character despite its age. However, you get what you pay for. And I think I got a pretty good floor for the relatively cheap price.

The Ikea laminate floor is very hard and durable. Over at least five years, only one chip has ever occurred and that was due to dropping something very heavy and angled onto it. It didn't really get very deep either. Let me remind you that this floor was installed in a central location right in front of the main entrance, at the bottom of a stairwell, and between three rooms. The floor handles a lot of foot traffic. However, this is a barefoot or slippers only house, so the only shoes that have stood on it were from workmen or infrequent guests. I'm not sure how well it would stand up to cleats.

The laminate is also very smooth. A broom, paper towel, Swiffer pad, or vacuum cleaner rolls over it very easily. It is not hard to clean and clumps of dust are easily visible against the light colour of the floor -- good and bad. The floor has also been mopped and wiped down with soaked paper towels before without problems; apparently, it's not good to get these things really wet.

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IKEA BILLY Bookcase Review
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IKEA IVAR Shelf Review
IKEA LACK Side Table Review