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Laminate…What is it?

With the quality of laminate flooring, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between real timber and laminate

With the quality of laminate flooring, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between real timber and laminate

Put simply, Laminate flooring is a floating floor system made of a decorative paper applied to a board. And there you have it!

Obviously, it’s not quite that simple, but when you visually look at the construction of the material it’s generally made up of a few elements.

  1. A protective coating sheet to give the board its strong wearing attributes.
  2. A decorative paper which gives the board its look and feel.
  3. A core board which gives the board its dense body. This is also where the locking mechanism is located.
  4. A backing board for stability.

Each element plays an important part in the workings of the overall board and we will run through each element in more detail.

Protective Coating

The protective coating provides the product its impact resistance, stain resistance, burn resistance and resistance to swelling. The Association of European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF) have adopted a standards rating system, which we refer to as ‘AC ratings’. All laminates are put through testing to measure each element and given an overall AC rating. If a laminate fails one particular test, then it will not be given a rating. The AC Rating definitions are:

AC1 Moderate Residential: Suitable for Bedroom or guest rooms only with minimal traffic.

AC2 General Residential: Floors are suitable only for moderate residential use such as a bedroom or applications such as living and dining rooms.

AC3 Heavy Residential – Moderate Commercial: Suitable for all residential applications plus light commercial such as hotel rooms or small offices.

AC4 General Commercial: Suitable for all residential applications plus general commercial applications such as offices, boutiques and cafes.

AC5 Heavy Commercial: Suitable for all residential applications plus heavy commercial applications such as public buildings, department stores, etc.

All Surfaces By Hynes laminate has a rating of AC3 or AC4 to ensure our floors are well suited for residential applications.

AC4 rated laminates are great for people with pets or investor properties for rental.

Decorative Paper

There is no doubt that laminate flooring has come a long way over its lifetime. With the advent of digital printing we are now able to get decors with true to life timber looks and feels and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between laminate and real timber flooring.

Today, you can virtually take a photo of anything and get it made into laminate flooring. EIR (Embossed-In-Register) gives the paper its true to life texture, however every benefit has a cost, and the more true to life, the more cost involved.

Core Board

Core boards are an important element in the quality of the laminate floor. HDF (High Density Fibre) board is generally what is used as it increases the impact resistance and reduces the risk of denting. The density of the core also affects the swell rate of the floor or the amount of moisture it will soak up if exposed to some type of liquid or moisture.  Some manufacturers use low density chipboard or MDF (Medium Density Fibre) board to reduce costs – stay away from these as they tend not to be specially treated for moisture resistance.

The thickness of the core board also plays a part in the stability of the overall board and the effectiveness of the locking systems. Laminates tend to come in 6mm to 12mm thickness. Surfaces By Hynes products are 8mm and 12mm thick.

Backing Board

Although unseen, the backing of a laminate floor is a very important feature. It is also referred to as the balancing layer as that is exactly what it does, balances the board. It also reduces any movement. It is very important that the balancing layer (bottom layer) is laminate, as this will give the product the most stability. Some products don’t have a balancing layer. This will cause an imbalance between the top layer, core and bottom layer causing instability in the floor board resulting in possible bowing, twisting and cupping.