If you haven't yet had to specify a laminate flooring system for one of your jobs, chances are you will. Just 10 years after it was first introduced to the U.S. by way of Europe, this material has managed to capture 17 percent of the residential flooring market, according to the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA). Annual growth in recent years has been in the double digits.

That growth isn't surprising, considering what the product has going for it. Consisting of tongue-and-groove planks or tiles installed as a "floating" floor system — that is, a floor in which the pieces are joined to one another but not to the subfloor — a laminate floor system can closely mimic ceramic tile and wood, but costs less...

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