What to look for in a Laminate Floor

Overall thickness

Most laminate flooring ranges between 6mm and 10mm in thickness, considerably thinner than timber flooring. However, at this thickness your floor is more likely to be level with other floor coverings such as tiles and carpet.

Benefits of a thicker laminate floor

  • Given an equal density core between a 6mm and a 10mm floor, the 10mm floor will have a higher impact resistance (less susceptible to denting) than the thinner floor.
  • The ability to withstand heavier static loads.
  • Given the same locking mechanism, the thicker the core, the stronger the lock.

Rating

All laminate flooring must fall within the European Standards as set out by European Producers of Laminate. This rating measures all attributes of the floor, including impact resistance, stain resistance, wear resistance, resistance to cigarette burns and swell rate. The most commonly rated laminate flooring is 23/31 and you should ensure the floor you choose is rated at this level as a minimum.

Colour Variation

Laminate products may have colour variation. Samples displayed and provided are indicative only and will not exactly match the floor installed.

All variations are normal and not considered defects, and therefore do not form a part of these warranties.

Construction

Core

Core composition is another important facet of a quality laminate floor. A high density core 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 to reduce costs where a high-quality product has a high density fibre board core, which is specially treated for moisture resistance. Following are the different types of core boards and the density ratings:

HDF MDF
Density 800-900 kg/m3 500-600 kg/m3
Swelling 10-20% 15-25%
Impact IC 1-2 IC 1

Norm EN-13329

Backing

Although unseen, the backing of a laminate floating 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 and reduces any movement. It is very important that the balancing layer (bottom layer) is laminate. This will give the product the most stability. Some products don’t have a balancing layer. This causes an imbalance between the top layer, core and bottom layer, resulting in instability in the floor board and possible bowing, twisting and cupping.

Summary

Thickness: Given the same quality product with the same features, a thicker floorboard will achieve higher impact resistance, larger static loads and stronger locking system.

Rating: Minimum rating of 23/31 for heavy domestic and light commercial.

Locking System: A higher quality lock will ensure better long-term performance.

Construction: The core should be a minimum of HDF (high density fibre board) to ensure maximum impact resistance and minimal swelling when exposed to moisture. The backing or balancing layer should be laminate to ensure maximum stability.