TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring: Reviews, Pros/Cons, Installation and Cost

Welcome back to our reviews of the TrafficMaster flooring brand sold exclusively at Home Depot. Last time we took a look at TrafficMaster Allure Vinyl flooring. Next up is TrafficMaster’s highly popular laminate floor range. Scroll down or use these quick links to navigate our review.


Overview: What is TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring?

There are two ways to answer that.

The general answer is that TrafficMaster laminate is an affordable brand of laminate flooring sold exclusively at Home Depot.

Home Depot manufactures and sells TrafficMaster. There is no “middleman” taking a cut of the profits, so prices are very competitive. Home Depot shouts its opinion of the flooring by spelling it TrafficMASTER.

The technical answer is that the word laminate means “layered” or “constructed with an overlay.” Both definitions apply to this inexpensive laminate flooring.

TrafficMaster laminate, like all laminate, is made with four layers of material.

Base layer: A waterproof melamine bottom layer provides a stable base and prevents moisture from below (in concrete, for example) from rising and damaging the flooring.

Core layer: High-density fiberboard (HDF) is the thickest layer. It is paper or wood pulp combined with polymer and resin binders for strength, additional moisture resistance and stability – preventing shrinking or expanding.

Design layer: Also called the visual layer, it is a high-resolution photo of the wood the laminate is mimicking.

Wear layer: This aluminum oxide layer is tough and clear. The thicker the wear layer, the better the floor’s resistance to scratches and general wear – and the higher the cost.

Installation: The material has tongue and groove design to create a floor that “floats” rather than being glued down. It’s among the easiest types to install.

TrafficMaster Laminate Product Specs

You’ve got limited options for plank sizes and the thickness of the wear layer.

Planks dimensions: Styles are produced in slightly varying plank sizes from about 7”x50.5” to 8”x48”.

Wear layer depth: This is a more important distinction than plank size. TrafficMaster uses 3 wear layer thicknesses. Here they are with popular styles in those thicknesses.

  • 7mm: Goldwyn Cherry, Reclaimed Oak, Ember Oak, Embossed Brazilian Cherry, Embossed Alameda Hickory, Lakeshore Pecan, Natural Pecan, Saratoga Hickory, Russet Hickory, Anniston Oak, Grey Oak, Gladstone Oak, Reclaimed Oak, Cameron Oak
  • 8mm: Cumberland Oak, Distressed Maple Cruise, Distressed Maple Lawrence, Embossed Hillside Oak, Hand Scraped Douglas Acacia
  • 12mm: Birch, Oak, Sycamore, Colfax

Accessories: TrafficMaster makes transition strips in both wood and metal varieties.

TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring Pros and Cons

Like any laminate flooring product, TrafficMaster laminate has its benefits and potential disadvantages.

TrafficMaster Laminate Advantages:

Affordability: This is clearly the top reason for TrafficMaster’s popularity. It is cheap laminate flooring in part because Home Depot cuts costs by manufacturing and selling it. As an example of the low price, TrafficMaster 12mm laminate costs about $1 per square foot less than Pergo’s 10mm laminate.

Decent durability: Expectations are the key. Depending on the wear layer thickness and what type of traffic it gets, TrafficMaster laminate should last 7-15 years. It might last longer in no-shoes, no-pets, light-traffic settings.

All TrafficMaster laminate has a 15-year warranty against manufacturer defects – but the flooring could be worn out long before that.

Low maintenance: It’s as easy to care for as hardwood, but without the need to seal it periodically. The keys to maintenance are to vacuum or sweep away gritty dirt and use a damp mop as needed to keep it looking good.  You can find out more about the best laminate flooring maintenance tips here.

Easy and quick installation: Many handy homeowners choose DIY laminate installation. If you hire a pro, the labor cost should be less than for materials like tile and hardwood that take longer and require more supplies to install.

Versatile installation: Laminate can be installed over concrete and some flooring types. Details are found below.

Works with radiant floor systems: TrafficMaster laminate works well over radiant heat in concrete or beneath wood subfloors. If you’re installing it, read the instructions about letting the system cool first.

TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring Disadvantages

Not as pretty as wood: Homeowners that want the genuine beauty of real wood might be disappointed with a photograph of wood.

Limited style range: TrafficMaster makes fewer styles than Pergo, Armstrong and other top brands.

Noise: This is a shortcoming it shares with hardwood and tile. Noise-reducing subfloors are available to absorb the click-clack of laminate.

Not for wet areas: Laminate isn’t recommended for bathrooms, laundry areas or anywhere else it might be exposed to standing water. When used below grade, a vapor barrier with taped seams must be installed beneath it.

Not green: The flooring is not recyclable or biodegradable and is typically disposed of in landfills. Small amounts of formaldehyde are used in TrafficMaster production.

TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring Installation

TrafficMaster does not void the warranty if you DIY, but it does make this statement in the list of warranty exclusions: “The warranty does not cover wear or damage caused by improper installation.”

If you install it, read the instructions and follow them exactly.

If you go pro, hire an experienced installer familiar with laminate.

How TrafficMaster Laminate installs

TrafficMaster laminate has tongue and groove design on both the long and short side of each plank. The planks easily lock together with an audible click to form a floating floor.

The planks are all the same length. To avoid butt-end seams lining up across your floor, the first row should start with a full plank, and the second row should start with a half or quarter plank to stagger end seams. Alternate starting with full pieces and the scrap from the end of the last piece.

TrafficMaster requires a minimum 5/16” (8mm) expansion space at the perimeter. Spacers are included with the flooring. This space is easily covered by floor trim.

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To Get Started

Flooring Acclimation

The first step is to bring the flooring inside at least 4 days before installation.

Lay the boxes flat, and leave the plastic wrap on per TrafficMaster’s instructions. Indoor temperature should be between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

This allows the laminate to acquire the same temperature and relative humidity as your home. Acclimation prevents the laminate from shrinking and pulling apart or expanding and buckling once installed.

Inspecting your Flooring Before Installation

The TrafficMaster Warranty Exclusions section says, “The owner must inspect for color, finish and quality before installation. The manufacturer cannot be held responsible for costs incurred when a floor with visible defects has been installed.”

In short, make sure that your flooring planks are straight, flat and consistent in color before installing them. If they’re not, contact the retailer with your concerns.

TrafficMaster Laminate Installation Requirements

One of the benefits of laminate is that it can be installed over concrete, wood, plywood, O.S.B., sheet vinyl, tile and some carpet.

TrafficMaster guidelines state the surface beneath must be in good condition and level. Low spots should be filled with self-leveling concrete.

The TrafficMaster Laminate Flooring Installation Guide is “must” reading before beginning the job. Following this guide is the best approach to installation success and not voiding the warranty.

Subfloor Guidelines

Over concrete: New concrete should cure for 3 months prior to laminate installation. A non-permeable polyethylene vapor barrier with taped seams should cover the concrete.

Over carpet: It can be installed over glue-down carpet unless the subfloor below the carpet is concrete. All other carpet types and the padding beneath them should be removed.

Over radiant heat: TrafficMaster guidelines are to lower the radiant heat system to 60 degrees F one week prior to laminate installation. Once the flooring is installed, the heat can be increased to a maximum of 85F in increments of 10 degrees per hour.

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To Get Started

TrafficMaster Laminate Maintenance

Keep it simple. Stick to these tips to keep the flooring looking its best.

Regularly Remove Loose Dirt

Walking on dirt and grit hastens the demise of aluminum oxide wear layer. Sweeping is OK, the best vacuum cleaner for laminate is one that is designed for use on hard floors.

Remove dirt about once per week for each person or pet in your home, especially in main traffic areas.

Get to Spills Quickly

Use a towel or sponge to soak up spills, and then clean the floor with mild soap and water. Rinse and dry the laminate.

Soak Away Sticky Stuff

Squeeze a few drops or light spray of warm water on stuck-on messes. Give the water a couple minutes to soften the mess, and wipe it away.

Mop as Needed

Steam mops should not be used, but a damp microfiber spin mop or similar is ideal. Only make the mop as damp as needed to pick up dirt, pet hair, etc.

If the floor is quite soiled, use a pH-neutral cleaning solution recommended for laminate.

Avoid Shoe Mats and Rubber Mats

We recommend a no-shoes approach to laminate. However, we do not recommend keeping a mat or boot tray for shoes by the door.

Those items typically get dirt beneath them. As they move, even slightly, the dirt beneath acts like sandpaper on the flooring. The abrasion will quickly show.

Rubber mats – and latex and vinyl mats too, can discolor laminate. The backing material doesn’t breathe, and a chemical reaction takes place that can discolor laminate.

Protect your TrafficMaster Laminate

You can prevent damage with these easy steps:

  • Wear soft slippers on laminate instead of shoe.
  • Use pads on the bottom of chairs and furniture legs.
  • Keep dog nails neatly trimmed.
  • Lift and move heavy objects rather than dragging them.


Prices and Options

Here is a table with the prices of TrafficMaster laminates, at time of writing (April 2019).

7 mm
Cost/ square foot
8 mm
Cost/ square foot
12 mm
Cost/ square foot
Gladstone Oak 68 cents Cumberland Oak 72 cents Oak $1.29
Lakeshore Pecan 79 cents Hand Scraped Douglas Acacia $1.70 Birch $1.29
Saratoga Hickory 89 cents Distressed Maple Cruise $1.70 Sycamore $1.29
Goldwyn Cherry 89 cents Distressed Maple Lawrence $1.70 Colfax $1.39
Russet Hickory 89 cents Embossed Hillside Oak $1.70
Alameda Hickory 95 cents
Embossed Brazilian Cherry 96 cents
Grey Oak 99 cents
Reclaimed Oak 99 cents
Cameron Oak 99 cents
Anniston Oak 99 cents
Natural Pecan 99 cents
Dark Brown Hickory 99 cents

Other Laminate Flooring Options and Prices

In comparison, here is a list of other laminate flooring brands and current prices.

Brand
Thickness
Cost
Pergo Outlast+ 10 mm $2.79/sq. ft.
Pergo XP 10 mm $2.29 to $2.59/sq. ft.
Home Decorators Collection 8 mm $1.49 to $1.89/sq. ft.
Home Decorators Collection 12 mm $1.79 to $1.99/sq. ft.
Home Legend 8 mm $1.79/sq. ft.
Home Legend 12 mm $2.49/sq. ft.
QuickStep Studio 10 mm $1.79 to $2.39/sq. ft.
Allen + Roth 8 mm $1.49/sq. ft.
Shaw Crowing Point 10 mm $3.49/sq. ft.
Shaw Repel 12 mm $2.39/sq. ft.
Armstrong Premier Class 8 mm $2.39/sq. ft.
Armstrong Architectural Remnants 12 mm $3.39/sq. ft.

Consumer Reviews

Homeowners that have installed TrafficMaster laminate are generally happy with it. The average rating on Home Depot for all styles are 4.3 to 4.5 stars. Here are the most useful customer reviews pointing out TrafficMaster laminate pros and cons:

“We chose Saratoga Hickory 7mm laminate for our kitchen as a temporary flooring until we do a major renovation upon retirement in 4 years. It has surpassed our expectations for beauty and water resistance. This flooring has made us think twice about using genuine wood when we do the remodel.” – Toledo Mo

“I’m not super handy, but DIY installation went well with a few early hiccups. Use a rubber mallet to tap the planks into place and eliminate gaps. First and last rows are trickiest, but the instructions help. The distress maple looks fabulous in the entryway and living room.” – Steve in the 60120

“Hillside Oak. It gets 5 stars for looks. 5 stars for DIY ease. 3 stars for durability. Too easy to scratch and dent it. Indentations under the legs of the bed.” – Elizabeth P

“Shopping for more TrafficMaster laminate, so I figured I would leave a review about the 8mm oak-look laminate we put in our bedroom six years ago. It still looks new. We’re easy on it, but have a 50lb German Shepherd. The floor is holding up better than I would have guessed.” – S Han

“I have 12mm Birch throughout the first floor including a full bathroom. A few of the edges in the bathroom started to cup after 4 years. Buy an extra carton or two for repairs. We’ve gone through half a box already to replace scratched, stained and cupped pieces.” – Miggy G

“DIY Saratoga Hickory was a snap, literally and figuratively. Did 400+ square feet with help in a day. Gorgeous stuff, even if not quite on par with real wood.” – Drummer in the D

“Expect 5-10 years from this max depending on how much traffic it gets. Our household: two adults, 2 teens, 3 midsize dogs and we do a lot of entertaining. We’re thinking after 4 years that we’ll maybe get 7 years from the 8mm Hickory we installed. Still, that’s pretty good value for $1.19 a foot.” – Biggs in Beaverton

“Chips easy. First year – 5 stars. Second through fourth year – 4 stars. Now, after five years, I’d say 3 stars due to edges chipping and chair legs gouging. Pad all legs. Don’t drop anything heavy. We have the Reclaimed Oak which I think is 7mm.” – Justin 044

Conclusions

A fair summation of the reviews is that the floor offers good value because it costs less than most other decent laminate flooring. Looks are great, but care should be taken to avoid scratches, chips and dents. Prevention goes a long way toward protecting the flooring.

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