Article topic: Understanding specifications for laminate flooring
- What is covered by the warranty? Each Supplier will have a document with the specifics of their warranty, generally most warranties cover de-lamination, walk through of the décor paper 10mm from an edge and factory faults. Although you must ensure you have the product specifications correct for your installation or your warranty may be void.
- Does is differ by supplier? Generally most warranties are the same, but you must read the details from your supplier to ensure you understand what you are covered for.
Thickness – The thickness of the product is usually expressed in millimetres, it is quite common for laminates to range from 6-12mm with most products measuring 8mm.
- Why is the thickness specified in the spec sheet? It is part of the EN13229 standard and the overall spec sheet should be read to determine the performance of a product.
- How does thickness matter in terms of the installation? Thickness in terms of installation does not matter; the installation method must be followed for the product purchased as there are small differences in the installation methods for some boards.
- Is it associated with quality, durability, etc? The thickness of a product is not a guarantee of durability or quality; check the spec sheet to ensure you are buying the correct grade of product to suit your application.
Weight – The weight is based on the quality of the board. High Density Fibreboard (HDF) has less swelling than the Medium Density Board. (MDF) The weight of the product will be in the specification, a good quality board will be in the vicinity of 900kg/m3.
- Why is the weight specified? The weight of the product is part of the spec and in general terms would dictate the quality of the core board, as the heavier the boards at 8mm the more raw material has been pressed into the body. Which means the core of the board is denser.
- Is this only relevant for transportation? No, it determines the quality of the core board.
Gradings and classifications:
- What’s the difference between Class and Classification? The Abrasion classification is the quality of the wear layer for example your AC3 – The class gives you the requirements of where the product should be used; for example Class 21-33.
- The only classification I found was AC4. What are the others and what do they mean? AC1 to AC5 – AC1 being the softest or least wear resistant and AC5 being the hardest/most durable.
- Why are there different residential classifications? Some homes only have 1 person; therefore can use a less durable product.
- What are the various different classifications and why are they useful? – Domestic levels of use – AC1-AC3 = Moderate, general and heavy use with Commercial levels of use – AC3-AC5 = Moderate, general and heavy use.
- What are the commercial classifications, and where should they be used? Moderate loads = Small hotel rooms, small offices and meeting rooms etc. Normal/general loads = Offices, waiting rooms, boutiques etc. Heavy loads and traffic = Large offices, shops, public buildings, etc.
- What’s the difference between classification and location grading? Explained above with the class and classification.
- What is a thickness swelling? This is the swelling of the product when exposed to large amounts of water or moisture. Does it relate to installation practices? No not at all, it relates to how much the product will swell when in a wet environment. If a 10% swelling is stipulated, is this good or bad? Products testing at 10% are very good.
- What limits should a laminate stay within? Each manufacturer has its own specifications and these must be adhered to. What is normal and what should ring a warning bell – and why? With any quality board, everything you need to know about the product is stipulated on the box, this including the weight and if you require further information, all reputable importers have the testing certificates to prove what they are selling. If you are unsure of the board and its quality, research the product.
- What does light fastness mean? This is the ability of the decorative surface to resist intense light. Is this related to fading of colour? And what does the number indicate? Yes it is. The number indicates the test passed and if the product can withstand the UV rays from our sun.
- How is the slip resistance classification meaningful? Does this indicate the suitability of laminate for certain areas? As with all flooring products a slip resistance test is conducted to give a value in the specification.
- What does the fire resistance classification mean? It’s asking if the floor is flame resistant. Again, are there limits a laminate should stay within? Of course, there are always specifications to fall under for your product to be safe, sound and a good quality product.
- Who should know about grading’s and classifications? Anyone importing or selling the product on. You need to fully understand the makings of the product in order for the product to live up to the customer’s expectations.
- Is this information the sort of thing that an architect of interior designer should be familiar with – and are they, or do they often get it wrong? Absolutely, we all get things wrong if we don’t understand what we are working with.
- Who usually sets the specs for an installation, and what do they base them on? The manufacturer and it’s based on all performance tests conducted.
- How many different classifications are there? There are 6 classifications.
- How do our local specs compare with international brands? We use the same international specifications.
- What are the 5 key items that a specifier should bear in mind when choosing their laminate flooring for an installation?
- The colour is so important, make sure that large samples are shown, so you get a good understanding of how the floor will look in a large area.
- How long do you want the product to last? Quality will play a large role in this respect.
- Is the application for domestic or commercial use?
- The sub-floor the floor will be installed on, this must be level, dry and flat.
- Your installer is of paramount importance, he is the one that can make your floor a success or a failure. Accredited installers are highly recommended.