Even the most experienced buyer can be confused by the different processes, systems and AC ratings when looking at buying laminate flooring. Both hardwood and laminate flooring look quite similar in the end, but the installation processes of the two differ quite substantially.
Installing laminate flooring is a much quicker, easier process than installing hardwood flooring. A hardwood floor requires planks to be nailed into the subfloor and to each other, but a laminate floor simply uses ridges and grooves to slide in and lock together.
What are the different levels of laminate quality, thickness and durability?
Different thickness considerations
It is important to consider the floor’s thickness when choosing your laminate flooring. Laminate thickness is defined as the vertical distance between the base of the board and the top of the board – this doesn’t include the thickness of the pad/underlay.
The thickness of laminate floorings can range from 6mm to 12mm. Thicker materials offer better insulation, more durability and a more natural feel. At the top of the spectrum, the 12mm laminate is the most durable and comfortable. For people looking for that hardwood underfoot feel, the 12mm laminates match up perfectly. With more durability and a more natural feel, the 12mm does come in at a higher cost than the thinner options.
One of the most common options is the 8mm laminate. The 8mm laminate flooring is still very durable, but it is cheaper than the 12mm. The 8mm wear layer thickness is similar to that of the 12mm, so you can achieve the same qualities and properties of the 12mm (but for a fraction of the price) by increasing the flooring thickness with a 2-3mm underlay.
Different durability ratings
When looking for a high-quality laminate, it is important that you check the AC rating. The higher the AC rating of your laminate flooring, the more durable it is.
For residential installs, you can get away with choosing flooring with an AC3 rating. AC ratings higher than AC3 are designed specifically for commercial use and are not recommended for residential installations. Anything with a rating higher than AC3 is made for much heavier use and are therefore much costlier.
Different styles and designs
There are many different design, texture and finish options to choose from when installing your laminate flooring. Depending on the padding, size, and desired authenticity of your floor, you can choose from a satin, matte, hand-scraped, natural wood, soft scraped, oiled wood, high gloss/piano, or oxide surface finish.
For a matt finish, browse the Evolution Matt Collection
For a gloss finish, browse the Evolution Gloss Collection
For an embossed finish: Urban Collection
For a washed finish: Grand Provincial Collection
Laminates are a resilient flooring option for both commercial and residential builds. They are stylish, durable, affordable, versatile and easy to install and maintain. Choosing a good laminate flooring for your house will warm up your space, and make it feel more cosy. There are a wide range of laminate designs, finishes, textures and colours to choose from, so you can let your creativity run wild.
Further reading about laminate flooring: