When looking to purchase laminate flooring, it is crucial to know beforehand how it will perform under specific traffic conditions over the long haul. Laminate AC ratings have been put in place to protect consumers by giving them a guide to get their money’s worth.
The AC rating establishes the durability of a certain laminate product, helping you understand the suitability for its intended application ( i.e. residential or commercial application).
What is an AC rating?
AC stands for “Abrasion Class” and the AC rating you can see on product descriptions is an internationally accepted system of classification of laminate flooring durability. In Australia, a laminate undergoes many different testing methods, in line with the European Standard EN 13329:2000, to assess its long-term wear resistance.
Some of these testing methods involve using the Taber abrasion machine, an abrasive wheel, and a leather wheel. A specific grade of sandpaper is also used, wearing away at the laminate’s surface layer until a certain a certain point of wear is reached.
The AC rating is then a reliable and unbiased indicator of laminate flooring durability, because these tests are performed by a third party and they cover all the different ways a laminate can wear.
What are the different types of AC ratings?
Based on the results of the tests, a laminate is designated an abrasion class that ranges from AC1 to AC5 rating. with AC5 being the most wear resistant class. Knowing the different types of AC ratings will help you shop smart.
AC1 rated laminate flooring is suitable for rooms that get light foot traffic only. We usually recommend to install this product preferably in guest bedrooms and dining rooms that are used every now and then,
AC2 rated laminate is suitable for areas with moderate foot traffic, so we won’t recommend installing this floorcovering in high traffic areas such as hallways or living rooms. However, laminate floors with an AC2 rating are ideal for family rooms and bedrooms that do get some traffic.
AC3 rated laminate flooring represents the highest rating for homeowners, so it’s intended to be used in any domestic areas that get heavy foot traffic. These include living rooms, hallways, conservatories, stairs, kitchen, etc.
AC4 rating is the first level specifically intended for commercial usage. AC4 rated laminate is suitable for moderately trafficked commercial spaces such as boutiques, offices, salons, and cafes.
AC5 rating is the highest durability rating. AC5 is suitable for high-traffic commercial areas, such as restaurants, showrooms, department stores, and public buildings that get lots of back and forth traffic.
What rated laminate flooring do I need?
As aforementioned, AC1, AC2, and AC3 rated laminate flooring are intended for domestic usage only, while AC4 and AC5 rated laminate flooring are suitable strictly for commercial application.
Each AC rating consists of a 60% increase in wear over the previous class. For instance, AC2 rated laminate is more wear resistant than AC1 rated laminate by 60%. AC3 rated laminate flooring is more wear resistant than AC2 by 60% and more wear resistant than AC1 by 120%. AC4 rated laminate is more wear resistant than AC3 by 60%, than AC2 by 120%, and than AC1 by 180%.
With higher AC ratings, you will thus benefit from a longer life for your laminate flooring. When shopping around for laminate, it’s essential to balance the durability of a laminate with its price. because the higher the AC rating, the higher the price tag.
For residential usage, AC3 rated laminate flooring is the ideal choice thanks to its excellent durability, cost-effectiveness and versatility. You can use AC3 rated laminate pretty much everywhere in your home without worrying about its durability in the long run.
You may however ask yourself, “why not invest in an AC4 or even AC5 rated laminate that can last a lifetime in my home?” Well, the first reason why these are not worth the investment for residential purposes is that AC5 and, to a lesser extent, AC4 have textures that are too rough for domestic use. That’s because the wear layer (which is the top layer) of the AC5 and AC4 rated laminate flooring is typically high-pressure laminate ( HPL), making these laminate floors anything but pleasant underfoot.
Secondly, it’s counter-intuitive to overpay for a commercial rated laminate when you have the more cost-effective rated laminate at your fingertips.
In conclusion, when making a purchasing decision for residential laminate flooring, keep in mind that AC3 rated laminate is the highest level designated for domestic usage, making it durable enough for more than 95% of homes.
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