Laminate flooring has some sensational 2021 trends that will modernize and distinguish your home instantly—and with less expense!
We know that real wood and tile enrich the home with class and style, but contemporary laminate flooring can bring you the same home décor benefits without the cost or maintenance of other materials.
So, without further ado, what are these 2021 trends we’re referring to?
Trend1: Realistic Wood-Look for Laminate
Laminate can resemble a number of materials, including tile, marble, stone, and wood. But 2021 has proven that more homeowners prefer the wood-look over anything else. Unlike laminate in the past, modern technology has designed this laminate style to have an authentic wood appearance that, depending on the technique used, can even feel like real wood.
There are three types of finish for wood-like laminate:
- High Gloss (or piano finish), which is a modern take. It has a sleeker finish than most other laminate styles, resembling the appearance of polished woods, marble, or ceramic-style flooring. As a result, high gloss doesn’t have a grain texture. But note! It might be slippery if wet, so clean up moisture and drips from wet shoes pronto!
- Hand-scraped. This style is specifically designed to resemble the natural appearance of antiqued hardwood.
- Embossed. This style is a textured laminate. It has a realistic, grooved wood appearance. Typical embossed laminate, when installed, does not precisely match the image of the printed grain shown in stores or online. In contrast, embossed-in-register, a second type of embossed laminate, matches the printed grain and the plank grain exactly.
For a long time, a high gloss finish was the king of the wood-look style, but it has the tendency of appearing artificial. To the eye, it is obvious to the viewer that the floor is laminate; no one walking into the room will be convinced he is stepping on wood.
Yet, homeowners are going in a new direction these days: the trend is to have an embossed/reclaimed or hand-scraped wood-look design, as these styles more accurately resemble real wood.
A reclaimed wood appearance means that the laminate design mimics the randomized scrapes, knots, and burns of authentic reclaimed wood. Embossed laminate even possesses a tangible texture to enhance its credibility.
If you are eager to purchase this laminate style, it may be beneficial to note that the embossed/reclaimed look is very similar to the weathered and distressed wood-look laminate that’s also trending this year.
A hand-scraped design provides a natural wood appearance, showing long and ingrained scrapes along the surface as if the flooring was a classic, expensive antique. Hand-scraped can seem similar to embossed laminate at times, but it is usually quite distinct, having a softer looking surface than embossed laminate.
Something else to keep in mind. While a traditional wood-look is the most used print design, bamboo wood is becoming a second favorite. Bamboo-style laminate provides a more strand-based appearance over a hardwood look, and it comes in a variety of features, including a weathered look.
Trend 2: Lighter Tones for Wood-Look Laminate
At one point, softer and lighter tones for wood-look laminate were seen as outdated, even cheap. But not anymore!
Light tones have dominated the market since last year, providing homes with a warmer, brighter atmosphere. Even more pleasing is the newer whitewashed laminate option!
The whitewashed look originated on the west coast and continued gaining traction as it moved eastward. Whitewashed colors give off a relaxed, Californian vibe that dresses a room with a natural and modern aesthetic.
Here’s a list of light tone colors currently trending:
- Whitewashed: This trend includes sandcastle oak and white oak. Whitewashed is brighter than any of the listed colors below, yet some variations of whitewashed can show signs of “wear” that allow darker colors to poke out from underneath. A room with whitewashed colors seems larger and more relaxed.
- Gray: This trend includes the color river rock, which is on the lighter side of gray. Gray has been trending for at least five years now and will likely stay that way through the next decade. An interesting difference between gray and the rest of the colors on this list is that it gives off a cooler atmosphere. While darker colors feel colder, gray is balanced between light and dark tones, taking on the best qualities of both worlds.
- Blondes: These colors help make a room feel larger and more open, especially when using wider laminate planks. And contrary to a basic white floor, blondes have color variation that brings out the texture. Homeowners can apply just about any style to their rooms with blonde laminate—chic, contemporary, or rustic, among other possibilities.
- Honey: It provides the same benefits of blond laminate: the room will seem larger and more open. Honey has a unique quality of popping out more than whiter colors, as it is the perfectly balanced blend of light and dark tones.
- High variation: A product of newer technologies, wood-look laminate can now have varying shades in its flooring. The idea is to make the flooring more natural and truer to the character of wood, as two pieces of real wood can look different in appearance and shade.
By the way, lighter wood is also a 2021 Hardwood Flooring Trend!
Trend 3. Wide Planks Preferred Over Thin
Thin planks were commonly used in the recent past, but homeowners are now preferring wider planks for their flooring, say 5.5” and wider. Each plank not only takes up more floor space—making the installation much faster and easier on DIY homeowners and/or professionals—but they also make the room seem larger and more open than it is. Wider planks are also known for providing modern ambience to a room.
Something to keep in mind: While planks wider than 5.5” are the dominant 2021 trend, thinner planks are experiencing a small resurgence. Part of this wide-plank trend is having a mixed-width flooring—that is, using a combination of thin and wide planks for the floor. The thought is that mixed widths will give a room a unique modern flavor, further differentiating it from older styles.
Trend 4. Herringbone Laminate Floors
Flooring patterns have come a long way from the parquet patterns routinely used in the 1970s.
There are three laminate patterns trending at this time:
Yet, homeowners most commonly desire a herringbone pattern in their house, as it is the most cost-efficient. What makes it so different? Well, a chevron pattern takes more labor to perfectly align the laminate, and a diagonal pattern naturally costs more in both labor and materials.
Herringbone flooring also consists of equally sized laminate planks for the entire layout, while a diagonal layout specifically requires mixed sizes. Using the entirety of a plank keeps homeowners from having to scrap unused or unusable cutoffs, saving money on materials.
Keep in mind that a longer herringbone pattern may not be the best option for larger rooms, but it provides a stunning aesthetic for entryways, hallways, and bathrooms—modernizing your home instantly.
Fortunately for homeowners, U.S. flooring companies do not limit herringbone patterned flooring to any one particular laminate color.
Pro tip: Herringbone and chevron can be easily mixed up since they have similar layouts. Note that herringbone patterns crosshatch laminate flooring while chevron aligns the flooring at 90-degree angles to form V’s or W's.
A “herringbone” pattern actually got its name because it resembles the crosshatching-like skeleton of a herring.
Trend 5. Waterproof Wood-Look Laminate Flooring
Laminate can be difficult to keep spotless, especially when water is involved. The major weak points for laminate are its seams and its fiberboard core. If liquid or moisture falls though the seams, the seams will form peaks and mold will grow between the planks. If liquid or moisture reaches the plank’s core, it will swell, causing the surface layer to delaminate. i.e., peel off.
Many homeowners have even complained of losing their warranty coverage the more water damage their floors receive.
It’s no wonder that waterproof laminate flooring is a hot commodity in 2021.
Waterproof laminate is exactly what it sounds like: It is designed to prevent liquid and moisture from staining or causing the laminate to swell and buckle. It is not “waterproof” to the same degree as sheet vinyl or tile, but it is certainly an upgrade from traditional laminate.
Like traditional laminate, waterproof laminate consists of four layers. In contrast, these four layers are constructed to have the waterproof component:
- Water-resistant film overlay: Protects the plank’s design layer—that is, the layer everyone sees—from liquid and moisture damage, as well as normal wear and tear.
- Design layer: Provides a realistic wood appearance and texture.
- Water-resistant HDF core board: Made of compressed high-density fiberboard (HDF), which adds strength and water protection to the plank. HDF makes the plank less susceptible to swelling from water.
- Balancing layer: A water-resistant underlayer that increases plank stability while preventing liquid and moisture from soaking into the plank from underneath.
Because of the waterproof technology involved, homeowners can enjoy additional benefits to owning the product:
- It has watertight seams that prevent liquids or moisture from seeping through.
- It’s fade-resistant, and it won’t expand when exposed to direct sunlight.
- It can have a more realistic wood appearance than traditional laminate. It can even seem more textured.
- It’s typically dent-resistant.
- Up to eight times more scratch resistant.
Pro tip: If you are looking to buy waterproof laminate, keep in mind that some companies use the description “waterproof” when their products are merely water-resistant. Some of the best waterproof laminate brands are (but are not limited to):
Trend 6. American-made Laminate
Back in the 1980s, laminate was gaining popularity, but its low prices were partly a reflection of its cheap manufacturing. The flooring often failed to adequately imitate natural materials, such as hardwood or tile, doing little to improve the home, as a result.
However, American companies and manufacturers have been perfecting the flooring since, constructing it so that it is more durable and long-lasting than many of the materials it resembles. Today’s laminate even requires less maintenance than it used to—a great relief on homeowners.
Because of these changes, American-made laminate is becoming such a hot trend that homeowners are buying it simply because of the name. There are a number of European companies that manufacture and sell laminate flooring, but American-made laminate—manufactured in America, of course—has undeniable quality and style that are making homeowners
There are so many laminate flooring trends happening this year. Did we miss any in this article?
Leave us a comment below about other 2021 laminate flooring trends you know of! We’d also love to know about which of these trends you decided on for your home flooring.