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Laminate Quality and Floor Care
There a many different quality laminated floors on the market, below are a few guidelines to make sure you get value for your money
Not all laminate floors are created equal, and with the popularity of laminated flooring it became necessary to identify, test, and classify laminate floors on the basis of their resistance to wear in relation to recommended usage areas. A body was formed in 1994 in Bonn, Germany, in order to carry out this mandate. The Association of European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF), devised a series of tests which measures the resistance of laminate floors to various types of wear. The tests include resistance to scratching, burning, staining, and others, including more day-to-day varieties of wear such as the effect of castors and impact resistance (high heels).
This is a quality label which indicates that the floor you are buying has been tested and has a Class rating which will be printed on the leaflet inside the box of flooring or on the box itself. If this label is not present it does not mean the floor is inferior quality, but be sure you get references of where the same type of floor has been installed before and that the retailer or supplier will back the product 100%. Also see if the manufacturer of the product is contactable, as most reputable manufacturers will have websites and make detailed information available about their products.
Laminate Quality Grades
The Abrasion Class "AC" rating is established by performing a series of tests on the laminate plank as prescribed by EPLF. If the laminate floor meets all the AC classification standards then it is Graded in a specific class. Below is an explanation of the different Classes or Grades that is available in laminated flooring.
- Grade 21 / AC 1: Suitable for lighter, more infrequent traffic areas, like spare bedrooms
- Grade 22 / AC 2: Suitable for general residential use in bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms.
- Grade 23 / AC 3: Suitable for heavy residential use in entrance halls, staircases and kitchens.
- Grade 31 / AC 3: Suitable for light commercial use like small offices.
- Grade 32 / AC 4: Suitable for medium commercial traffic areas such as boutiques, offices.
- Grade 33 / AC 5: Suitable for heavy commercial use such as department stores, banks and other public buildings.
Laminate Surface Quality
Two methods are used in the manufacturing of the laminate surface:
- Direct Pressure: This is the most common method where the 4 layers that the plank consist of get pressed together under pressure and high heat. This is also the most affordable laminate.
- High Pressure: Similar to DPL this method takes longer than Direct pressure and thus costs more, the top and bottom layers are done separately and then fused together again, the end result is a stronger and more durable laminate floor.
Laminate Core Board
The core of the laminate plank should be made from High Density Fibre Board (HDF), some of the cheaper laminates use Medium Density Fibre Board (MDF) which will dent easier.
Guarantee on Laminated Floors
Usually laminated floors have a 6 to 25 year guarantee depending on the quality of the floor, make sure to ask your retailer about the guarantee and also read through the guarantee. Reputable laminate manufacturers make the conditions of the guarantee available.
Advantages of Laminated Floors
The advantages listed below are applicable to most quality laminated floors, make sure the one you buy has these advantages
- Flame Resistant: Most laminated floors are flame resistant which means a open flame applied to the floor for a few seconds should not damage the floor, for example a match that's burning.
- Burn Resistant: Most laminated floors are largely resistant to cigarette embers which means you can put out a cigarette on the floor without causing permanent damage to the floor, it might leave a small discoloured mark but nothing that will jeopardise the structure of your floor.
- Stain Resistant: The top layer of most laminate floors are stain resistant, for example crayons or wine will not damage the floor permanently.
- Fade Resistant: Most manufacturers make sure they use a decorative foil that is fade resistant meaning the sunlight will not damage your floor, it is recommended to have sun screens where prolonged direct sunlight shines on your floor.
- Impact Resistant: HDF core boards are naturally impact resistant which means hight heels for example will not leave any marks or indents on your floor.
- Abrasion Resistant: Most laminated floors have very good abrasion resistance which means you can use your castor chairs directly on laminated floors.
Caring for Your Laminated Floor
There are some manufacturers that say their laminate is waterproof but be careful as laminate is made up of 99% wood fibre and although the surface is waterproof the joints are very susceptible to water. For this reason never wet your laminate floor but rather use a damp cloth to clean the floor which works very well.
- Daily Care: Sweep your floor on a daily basis with a soft brush or use the vacuum cleaner to remove dust and dirt.
- Cleaning: Because laminate floors are stain resistant it is a breeze to clean and just a damp cloth or micro fibre mop will work fine. Do not use the spaghetti mop types as these hold too much water and might damage the floor over the long run.
- Cleaning Fluids: Do not use everyday house cleaners as this will probably leave a residue on the floor making its appearance dull, rather use the cleaners recommended by the manufacturer or supplier. When using cleaners it is best to spray it onto the cloth or micro fibre mop to avoid excess cleaner damaging the joints. Never use any polish or waxes on laminate as this will only create a build up.
- Abrasives:Do not use any abrasive or metal pads on a laminate floor as this can damage the floor surface.
- Although laminate is scratch resistant it is a good idea to use felt pads under furniture or any other object that might be moved on the floor
- Place door mats at outside entrances to trap dirt and water from outside
Take the Following Preventive Measures to ensure a long lasting floor