Laminate made its first appearance in the early 1900’s where it was originally used for counter tops and back splashes in restaurants, and eventually made its way into homes because it was an inexpensive way to waterproof food preparation areas, and provided more attractive options to steel and butcher blocks. In addition, many businesses of the era used laminate for reception areas in hotels, beauty salons, retail stores, and even found a home in several municipal government buildings as well.
Unfortunately, the original versions of laminate were not considered strong enough to be used as a flooring alternative, and their function remained decorative for above-floor purposes for nearly six decades. However, as the manufacturing process evolved, and the stability and durability of laminate improved over the decades, it quickly made the transition into the European home in the early 1980’s.
Perstop, a Swedish company, first introduced laminate flooring as an alternative to linoleum and expensive hardwood and made its way into residential homes when the company began mass marketing of its laminate flooring products (marketed under the name Pergo) in Europe in 1984, just seven years since Perstop “invented” laminate flooring in 1977.
A decade after being introduced in Europe, Perstop laminate floors made their way across the Atlantic Ocean and the first Pergo laminate floors were sold in the United States in the early 1990s.
Pergo floors remained the top-selling laminate flooring manufacturer for several decades, despite heavy competition in the late 1990s; and in fact, the name Pergo is still synonymous with laminate flooring.
In the mid-1990s, laminate flooring evolved somewhat further, when two competing European companies, aiming at simplifying the installation of laminate flooring, came out with a glue-less alternative to the popular Prego product; and instead used interlocking laminate flooring. These two companies, Välinge from Sweden, and Unilin, from Belgian fought for years over patent rights as to which was the first company to introduce this new technology. Consequently, nearly all interlocking laminate flooring sold to this day, is made by one of these two companies.