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How to Select Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring, due to durability, wallet-friendly and easy to install and upkeep nature, has been a popular alternative to hardwood flooring for home décor the past two decades. Should you decide to include laminate flooring as part of your home décor, here are some factors to look at.

Laminate flooring comes in boards, and buyers generally intuitively look at thickness to determine quality. However, be reminded that board thickness has little bearing on how well and how long your floor will serve you. Materials and methods of production have far more bearing on the quality of the end product.

The trick here is to first look for two ISO ratings (which buyers would often take for granted and neglect) - ISO 9001, the certification of quality management and product quality, and ISO 14001, certifying environmental commitments; and then at grades and manufacture process details.

Despite thicker boards do not equal higher quality, it is by no means to say that thickness does not matter. Thicker laminate flooring generally fare better against bend caused by unlevel subfloor spots, warping issues, as well as noise reduction and feel. The boards are typically available in 7mm, 8mm, 10mm and 12mm thicknesses.

Abrasion Class (AC) Rating
This rating generally denotes the laminate flooring's resistance to wear, but also serve as useful pointers to how resistant the boards are to moisture, burns, abrasions, impact and stains, impact your home décor indirectly. The higher the AC rating, the more durable, thus the better:

  • AC 1: Designed for moderate residential use with little traffic, like bedrooms
  • AC 2: Designed for general residential use with medium traffic, like dining and living rooms
  • AC 3: Designed for heavy residential / moderate commercial use, meaning suitable for use in all traffic areas in a home, and some commercial areas
  • AC 4: Designed for general commercial use in all traffic areas in a home, and some commercial areas with medium traffic
  • AC 5: Designed for heavy commercial use and is the most durable rating, capable of withstanding traffic like that in a shopping mall

Despite being budget alternatives to hardwood flooring, laminate flooring is not one-look-fits-all, and in fact is available in a variety of textures for simulating different true hardwood flooring look, for different home décor:

  • Embossed: General, all-over, non-specific to décor texture
  • Embossed in register (EIR): Offers depth and texture in alignment with décor design, thus simulates true hardwood flooring look better
  • Handscraped: Pressed to look like true traditionally handcrafted, naturally-worn hardwood flooring
  • High Gloss: Mirror finish that excels in resisting scratches and dents