A laminated floor, better known as a floating floor, is a floor made from synthetic materials. This type of laminated floor owes its popularity to its extreme sturdiness and its resistance to stains and mold.
What is a laminated floor?
A laminated floor is composed of 4 distinct layers, fused to create a durable product.
- Supporting layer of laminated floor
- The purpose of the supporting layer, which is located under the laminated floor, is to ensure the structural integrity and stability of the product, and to provide a barrier against humidity. The composition of this layer varies depending on the manufacturer. It can be made of paper, of a thin layer of melamine, or of cork. The quality of the supporting layer will of course impact the durability of the laminated floor.
- The core of the laminated floor varies from one manufacturer to the next, but is is generally made of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) or HDF (High Density Fiberboard). It is important that all exposed surfaces, including the edges, be treated with resin to ensure the highest possible durability of the product. This process waterproofs the product and makes it more resistant to swelling when exposed to water.
- The photographic layer
- Consistent with its name, the photographic layer is a very high resolution photographic image applied onto the layer directly above the core. Most of the time, this image is that of a wood design, but it can also be anything else. This layer is what gives its appearance to the laminated floor.
- The wearing layer
- The wearing layer is the top layer of the boards, and is the reason behind the product’s characteristic extreme resistance. This layer is usually composed of resin, aluminium oxide, or melamine.
How can the quality of a laminated floor be determined?
Resistance to abrasion is classified under a chart called AC Rating. According to the purpose and traffic level of a room, this chart indicates which quality grade should be selected in order to maximise your investment. AC 3 rate is generally sufficient for residential use.
|Resistance to Abrasion – AC Rating
|AC 1 : Residential – Light
||Ideal for low traffic areas (e.g. bedroom, walk-in closet)
|AC 2 : Residential Medium
||Perfect for medium traffic areas (e.g. living room, dining room)
|AC 3 : Residential Heavy/Commercial Light
||Recommended for all residential rooms and for low traffic commercial areas
|AC 4 : Commercial Medium
||Recommended for all residential rooms and for medium traffic commercial areas
|AC 5 : Commercial Heavy
||Ideal for high traffic areas (e.g. stores)
Contrary to general belief, the thickness of a laminated floor does not necessarily vouch for its quality. To make sure that you are buying a quality product, it is therefore essential that you verify the materials and methods used for its fabrication. A very dense core, a resistant supporting layer and boards designed to fit firmly together are all excellent quality indicators.
This product’s characteristics (board width and length, range of colors and designs) are multiple and varied. Board thickness is generally of 10 mms, 12.3 mms, 13 mms, or 15 mms. With so many options to choose from, the selection is virtually unlimited.
Installing a laminated floor
A laminated floor is installed by fitting the boards together, which means that all the pieces are inserted in one another, somewhat as a puzzle. Assembling can be done on any existing floor, whether wood, concrete, ceramic, linoleum, hardwood, etc. The floating installation of the laminated floor means that it is not attached to the existing floor and that prior removal of the existing floor is not required providing that the surface is level and that a thin membrane is installed over it.