Made to imitate solid hardwood, laminate is one of the more popular and underrated flooring options out there. For a more comprehensive understanding of laminate, it’s important to learn the ins and outs about how each plank is constructed, the testing standards to ensure durability, and how to install laminate flooring with confidence.
Laminate Flooring Layers
Layers make everything good; be it your seven-layered dip or your flooring. Laminate consists of four layers to hang tough against all life has to throw at it. Check it out.
Wear Layer: The top layer is constructed with melamine which helps prevent scratches, wear, and staining on your floor. It’s the protective shield for your floor to live long and prosper.
Image Layer: Where the magic happens! This is the layer that holds the pattern or print giving you the beautiful wood or stone look that is sure to fool your friends.
Core Layer: This layer is a medium-density fiberboard (MDF), which absorbs the stress of footfalls and other impacts.
Backing: The backing layer stabilizes the board, giving it the strength that is needed to provide a sturdy flooring surface. In some cases, the backing layer includes an attached underlayment.
Laminate Flooring AC Rating System
After the product has been made, laminate floors go through a series of tests to determine the durability and appropriate installation areas for the flooring. This series of tests measures the strength of the wear layer and how long it takes before seeing actual wear on the plank which determines an abrasion class, or AC rating. There are a total of five AC ratings for laminate:
AC1: For low foot traffic residential spaces (closets and bedrooms)
AC2: For medium foot traffic residential spaces (dining rooms, living rooms, and family rooms)
AC3: For all foot traffic residential spaces (kitchens, hallways, and living rooms)
AC4: For all residential locations and some medium traffic in commercial areas
AC5: For heavy foot traffic in commercial spaces
Installing Laminate Flooring
Most laminate is installed as a “floating floor” which means you don’t need any glue or tape – you just lay it right on top of your existing floor. Then, with the planks’ tongue and groove edges, you connect and lock one plank to another.
Don’t forget your underlayment! If your laminate floor does not come with an attached underlay, consider using a rubber or cork underlayment on your subfloor below the laminate planks. Underlayment provides more stability for your flooring, minimizes the hollow sound from foot traffic, and helps increase the longevity of your floor.