We’ve had our laminate flooring in our living room for over a year now. It was my first experience installing a laminate floor. I’d bought the ultra-budget-clearance-no-name-brand for a great price, and the color was marvelous. Installing it was an OK experience. It took longer than expected and we had a few bumps along the way (like a slanted, bumpy sub-floor of 150-year old pine). You can read about our experiences with the installation here and here and here.
We put down an area rug in the room.
I’m hoping this will protect the flooring somewhat. Since installing, we’ve incurred a few scratches, mostly due to people wearing shoes (tracking in grit) and vacuuming. We no longer vacuum but sweep, and I’m still working on the tracking of grit.
The flooring is, overall, still in good condition. The drier winter weather causes the flooring to shrink a little, which is good. Over the summer, the humidity made the boards swell so much that a few started to buckle (it was barely noticeable but I noticed). We’d left plenty of space around the perimeter of the room as the manufacturer instructed, too, so the swelling was surprising. I think the differences between the bargain brands and the name brands are due in part to how much the boards swell. So if you use the bargain brands, leave a lot more space around the perimeter, even more than is specified in the instructions. Baseboards will cover the gaps.
I really like the color of the flooring. In the winter, when we’re inside all the time, it’s great to have things look cozy as well as be cozy. The flooring color is tawny and warm, very nice.
So so far I am happy with the laminate. It had cost us over $400 for materials for a 15′ x 17′ room. I think it’s been worth it so far.