Laminate floors mimic wood, tile and stone. A laminate floor is comprised of several thin layers of different materials. The visual is actually a computer-generated picture. Most laminates have a plastic backing, a wood based core, and a heavy finish consisting of multiple layers of melamine (a hard plastic coating) with aluminum oxide added for better wear and scratch resistance.
An advantage of a laminate is that it is very easy to maintain. Laminates are very scratch and indentation resistant and are perfect for busy, active households, especially homes with pets. One of the disadvantages of laminate floors is that some of the floors do not look or sound exactly like a real hardwood or tile floor, although some laminates (especially the higher end products) can fool an expert!