The 5 Best Laminate Flooring Options for Your Kitchen

Nick P. Cellucci
Written by Nick P. Cellucci
Updated October 4, 2021
White kitchen with laminate floor
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Discover the laminate floors with the features needed to perform best in your kitchen

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With your busy life, chances are you’re leaning into renovation solutions that offer sought-after looks, low maintenance, and great value. Laminate floors fit the bill perfectly, especially in kitchens, where high foot traffic and messy spills are common. Not only does laminate realistically mimic the look and feel of natural hardwood, but it offers built-in scratch, dent, scuff, and moisture resistance—all at a fraction of the cost of solid wood planks. 

When you’re shopping for a kitchen remodel project, you’ll come across a huge variety of laminate products. Use this guide to evaluate which features to add to your list of must-haves.

1. High-Pressure Laminate

Most laminate products are considered direct pressure laminate (DPL), a term that describes how each plank or tile is constructed. Four layers of synthetic material are pressed and heated until they bond together, combined in a single step that reduces the cost of manufacturing. This makes DPL more affordable than its counterpart, high-pressure laminate.

High-pressure laminate is put together in multiple stages and treated with a protective resin before being fused. This higher-quality laminate is more rigid than DPL, which is easy to bend. It holds up better to everyday use and resists dents, moisture, and foot traffic.

For that reason, despite a higher up-front cost, high-pressure laminate can be a good long-term investment that won’t need to be replaced as often.

2. Floating, Glueless, or Click-Lock Installation

A man Installing laminate floor on the kitchen
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Laminate floors are installed differently depending on the product. Some laminates are glued down with adhesive along each joint. While this makes for a strong floor, it also takes significantly more time and costs more than other methods. Pre-glued laminate flooring is similar, but with the glue already applied out-of-the-box for a faster and more convenient installation.

In the kitchen, however, you are better off with a glueless laminate product. These are tiles or planks that require no glue, nails, or other adhesives. They are very easy to install, even for relatively inexperienced DIY-ers. The most popular glueless laminate option is the click-lock or tongue-and-groove floor, featuring planks that snap and lock into place at each side and end.

The primary benefit of a click-lock laminate installation in the kitchen is a tight connection between each board. These connections are particularly moisture-resistant, which is ideal in both kitchens and bathrooms. Because they are not glued down, floors can be lifted and re-laid to remove damaged pieces or dry up heavy spills.

You can install a glueless laminate surface as a floating floor, which means it can go over any level hard surface floor or subfloor with the appropriate underlayment. Some products feature an attached underlayment to help reduce noise levels.

3. Square-Edge Laminate Planks

A laminate floor with square edge
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A plank’s edge describes the way the ends of each plank are cut. Common options for laminate include a beveled edge, micro-beveled edge, and square edge.

While a beveled edge is the most common and somewhat easier to install, it also creates a surface full of grooves that are prone to collecting moisture. Properly cared for, this tends not to be a major issue. However, leave a spill sitting for too long, and you may have to deal with the cost of replacement planks.

A square edge, on the other hand, fits together flush on all ends, resulting in a sleek, seamless, and water-resistant transition between planks. In a kitchen installation, a square edge can make all the difference when it comes to ease of maintenance.

4. Waterproof Laminate Flooring

Close up of waterproof laminate floor
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The wood composite materials used to make laminate floors tend to absorb water and swell. However, you can purchase water-resistant or even fully waterproof laminate. These are perfect for kitchens where water might splash from sinks, counters, tables, or pet bowls.

While the definition of “waterproof” may vary between manufacturers, a truly waterproof laminate floor will feature a water-repellent surface seal, watertight joints, and a water-resistant core. Waterproof performance may depend on proper installation, which you can ensure by hiring a professional to do the job for you.

However, waterproof laminate is easy to install even as a DIY project like other floating, glueless options. Plus, waterproof floors can be wet-mopped, where other laminate floors cannot.

5. Laminate With a High AC Rating

A woman with her dog laying on the floor
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If you want a laminate product that will last for many years, make sure to check the abrasion class (AC) rating on the packaging before you buy. It rates laminate flooring on a scale of one to five for how it holds up to factors like scratches, scuffs, stains, heat, and moisture. Typically, laminate with a higher AC rating features a thicker wear layer.

When choosing a floor for your kitchen, look for a laminate with a rating of AC3 or higher. Lower ratings are better suited to low-traffic rooms like bedrooms, home offices, and dining rooms. AC3, AC4, and AC5 all indicate commercial-strength performance that’s suitable for any area in the home, including your kitchen.

An AC3-rated floor will be suitable for an active lifestyle or busy family, offering added protection against dropped kitchen items and kids toys, sliding chair legs, pet nails, and other causes of dents and scratches that are familiar in kitchens.

Choosing a Laminate Color, Texture, and Finish

A moden kitchen with a laminate floor
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Even once you know the features to search for in a laminate product for your kitchen, you’ll still be faced with a huge array of design choices at your local flooring provider. Luckily, these choices are completely up to your aesthetic preference. Pick a color to match or complement your existing decor, cabinetry, wall paint, or backsplashes.

You’ll find laminate floors that mimic the look and feel of natural wood, stone, and ceramic tile surfaces, right down to the surface texture. Smooth laminate is great for a sleek marble look, while embossed or hand-scraped options can perfectly match the grooves of hardwood grain and wear for an antique wood appearance.

One design choice that may impact performance is the finish you choose. Laminate finishes range from very glossy to matte. Matte finishes don’t have as much shine, but they do tend to hide small scratches better.

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