What they don’t tell you – Secret No. 3:
“Yes, but does it fit??”
Laminate floor is really an incredible invention. It looks great, sturdy as heck, lasts a loooong time and doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.
The neat trick about a laminate floor is that it is made with a “lip & lock” design that makes the floor a snap to install and once installed, it’s sturdy and resilient. Also, if planks get damaged over the years, all the installer needs to do is uninstall the floor from the edge, change the damaged planks, and lay the floor down again and it’s as good as new.
The “lip & Lock” system was developed by UNILIN. To be effective and do all it’s supposed to do, the lips and locks must be precise, or the floor will install imperfectly and be subject to planks “popping” over time. Ill-fitting lips and locks also make the laminate extremely vulnerable to water damage. To make a laminate floor will fit as it should, UNILIN arrives at the factories in China and calibrates their machines with proprietary equipment. When done, UNILIN-approved laminates get a counterfeit-proof hologram seal of approval sticker on every single box. UNILIN certification is wonderful. It works and it makes sense.
The only “problem” with it, as far as many manufacturers are concerned, is that it costs money – and it isn’t cheap either. Everyone knows that quality costs money, but in an industry that shaves pennies off the costs to stay alive, this presents a very difficult temptation.
What are the chances that you’ll actually check the boxes your installer brings in, looking for the UNILIN hologram? Lately, US customs performs some random checks on laminate floors made in China to uncover patent infringements.
But the best assurance is your own eyes. Ask the dealer if the laminate you’re buying carries the UNILIN certification…and, if you can, when the installer comes in, take a look at the boxes. It’s not that you don’t BLIEVE him, of course, but….
Every single box of laminate coming out of Republic Floor factory in China carries the UNILIN certification hologram. Admittedly, it might be a bit unfair: Since it’s our factory, so there’s no middlemen cost to inflate the price, it is much easier for us to absorb the certification costs than it is for others. But that is how we can offer the best laminate floors made anywhere, fully certified, for the same price or less than you’d have to pay for an illegal uncertified brand.