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American homeowners like laminate. Popularized by Formica and now produced by a host of companies, the material is common on countertops. Now, suppliers are betting that customers will buy it for floors, too. At a price similar to wood or high-end vinyl, but with much easier installation, exceptional hardness, ease of maintenance, and a wide range of looks, manufacturers hope laminate flooring will draw millions of customers away from carpet. First in the game was Sweden's Perstorp corporation, which introduced its European-made Pergo laminate flooring to the U.S. in 1994. Strong sales surprised the company, and they started making the material in the U.S. this year. Hot on Pergo's heels, Wilsonart started making laminate planks and tiles in compatible sizes for mix-and-match patterning. Formica introduced its version of laminate flooring last