How to pick the best laminate flooring for your home, business, or rental.
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What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is made up of an HDF (high-density fiberboard) topped with a high-quality print and sealed under a hard protective clear-coat. It is a durable, practical flooring choice that looks like wood flooring at nearly half the cost.
Laminate floors are fairly easy to install, require little to no maintenance, and very easy to clean. They have gained a lot of popularity in commercial sectors and rental homes. This is due to its ability to handle high-traffic and hold up against heavy daily use.
What to look for in laminate flooring?
The durability of a particular laminate floor is determined by an AC (Abrasion Class) rating system. Ratings range from AC3 to AC5. Flooring with a higher AC rating is able to handle high-traffic better than flooring with a lower AC rating.
AC3 is suitable for home use. AC4 is recommended for light commercial use or heavy residential use with a lot of foot traffic. AC5 is the most durable and can withstand heavy commercial use.
While thickness doesn’t determine the durability of the floor, it does affect how laminate floors look and feel. Thicker laminates are also easier to install and create less sound echoing.
The thickness ranges from 8mm to 14mm. If there is an underlayment pad attached, you should subtract the thickness of the pad to determine the real thickness of the floor. A12mm thickness is considered ideal for most since it’s the closest you can get to a hardwood look and feel.
Pre-Attached Pad vs Underlayment
Some laminate flooring comes with a pre-attached pad eliminating the need for a separate underlayment. While flooring with a pre-attached pad removes an installation step and saves you some money in the short-term, it’s better to invest in a quality underlayment to increase the lifespan of your laminate floors.
The main reason a quality underlayment is necessary is that it covers the whole surface area while a pre-attached pad leaves gaps between the laminate planks. These gaps defeat the purpose of adding an underlayment for extra moisture protection.