What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is a multi-layer synthetic flooring product combined together through a lamination process. Laminate wood flooring simulates wood with a decorative paper (B) under a clear protective layer (A). The protective layer serves important functions. It protects laminate from scratches and prevent decorative paper from fading due to exposure of UV lights from the sun.
Decorative and protective layers are both supported by high-density fibre board (C) and backing layer (D) that keeps the board straight. Some high quality laminate planks have foam or padding added to enhance acoustical quality of the floors when you walk on it.
There are two common attributes which you need to know:
Laminate flooring planks come in different thickness which range from 7mm, 8mm, 10mm and 12mm. Price of the planks increases as it thickens. Some manufacturers market the thickness of the laminate including the core and attached pad. Thicker laminate helps reduce sound and prevent bend caused by uneven spots in sub-floor. Thicker board also better withstand the impact of a dropped object. Most importantly, thicker laminate feels more like solid wood when you walk on it.
Abrasion Class(AC) Ratings
AC hardness rating is a term used to represent a laminate flooring’s resistance to stress. The standard is set by European Producers of Laminate Flooring. The rating is assigned after a series of tests are carried out. The tests include resistance to burns, scratches, stain, impact and thickness swelling along edges. If a laminate flooring doesn’t meet the requirements for each of these tests, approval for a given AC rating will be denied. The following are representations of laminate’s ratings. The higher the AC rating, the higher the durability:
• AC 1: Designed for home use with little foot traffic, like bedrooms.
• AC 2: Designed for home use with medium foot traffic, like living rooms and dining rooms.
• AC 3: Designed for home use in all foot traffic areas, including high foot traffic areas, like kitchen, corridors and home offices
• AC 4: Designed for home use in all traffic areas and can meet some commercial standards if warranted
• AC 5: This is the most durable laminate available and can withstand heavy commercial traffic, like in a department store and public buildings.
Keep in mind that most residential rooms do not need more than AC 3. While higher AC rating provides better durability, it comes with higher price as well. Only choose the right type of laminate to get best bang for the buck. Not all laminate flooring manufacturers go by these ratings, but most of the best ones do use the AC ratings. Ask for AC rating for the laminate you are buying from the vendor.
Why Should You Choose Laminate Flooring?
Easy on Wallet
The main reason laminate flooring is getting so popular is due to the fact that the cost of installing laminate flooring is much cheaper than real solid wood flooring. The cost saving mainly came from:
i) Cheaper planks: The prices range from RM2.90 to RM11.00 per square feet, depending on the thickness, quality, features, and warranty. Minimally, you should be getting high quality planks at around RM5.00/sq.ft.
ii) Existing Floor Removal Not Required: laminate flooring can be installed on top of almost any existing floor (except carpet) since removal of existing floor is not required. The cost of installation is usually covered when you purchase laminate flooring from your vendor. Better still, if you wish to install laminate by yourself, you can negotiate for better price with your vendor.
Increases Home Value
Laminate flooring will add resale value of your home. It increases overall aesthetic, giving it an authentic wood and classy feel. The key to increase the value is get good quality laminate flooring so that it does not fade or prone to damage over time. A high quality laminate will retain its value for over 25 years.
For even better value, consider adding stylish floor skirting boards to give a sleek finishing touch to your overall home appearance. They are inexpensive yet offer great value over investment.
Laminate wood flooring installation is stress-free since no glues, nails, staplers or other adhesives are used to make each piece stick together. Instead, they have interlocking system that make the expansion inside it – if ever it happens – non-damaging to the other pieces.
Most residents in tropical countries like Malaysia and Singapore prefer to walk in bare feet at home. While some other flooring cools down faster than laminate flooring, laminate floor keeps temperature consistent. This is especially useful in air-conditioned rooms to prevent overly cold feet.
Easy to Maintain
Cleaning is easy with a broom and a slightly damp mop or a vacuum to remove any dirt or water spills on it. This is a plus factor especially for parents who still have toddlers who are likely to dump their food all over the place during meal time. Also, you do not have to worry about the dirt getting stuck in between the laminate pieces because its locking design makes it practically seamless.
We will let the video do the talking:
How to Choose a Laminate Flooring that Fits Your Home?
Choosing suitable laminate flooring can be a headache to many house owners. Some may choose to ignore the suitability at all and make decision only based on designs. However, ignoring the specifications may cause more problems at a later stage if laminate is not chosen properly.
Your laminate flooring should meet the following criteria:
Low Formaldehyde Emission
This is our top priority in the list as nothing is more important than ensuring our family members are in the pink of health. Little do we know that the laminates we purchase are made from composite woods contain materials that went through a series of chemical treatments. Resins used in the manufacture of the composite woods emit formaldehyde which is harmful to human. Long-term exposure to formaldehyde would be likely to cause asthma-like respiratory problems or skin rash.
Although there is no strict compliance of low formaldehyde standards in Malaysia, consumers ought to exercise their rights to know the products they purchase are safe.
Ensure the laminates you purchase are either certified by Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), California Air Resources Board (CARB) or GreenGuard-certified.
On the other hand, ventilating the room helps lessen the effects of the chemical that’s present in newly installed composite flooring.
UV resistant coating protects photographic layer from fading after years of exposure to direct sunlight. This ensures that the laminate floor you install still looks the same after years to come.
You should look for warranty that covers manufacturing defects, fading, stain, wear and termites attack. A reputable manufacturer or vendor is more likely to honour your warranties should any issue arises.
Shop for quality, not thickness
Thickness is not necessarily an indicator of quality. A 12mm laminate may seem like your best choice because you see more material, but without quality of construction you’re simply paying for more fiberboard. In fact, it is the materials and methods used to manufacture the product and the quality of the embossing that makes for a beautiful, long wearing floor.
Look for an ISO rating of 9001, which is a certification of quality management and product quality, and ISO 14001, which certifies environmental commitments.