Purchasing 12mm laminate flooring instead of 7mm laminate doesn't guarantee durable flooring -- all it means is that the thicker 12mm laminate has more fiberboard than 7mm version. The thickness does not have any bearing on how well the flooring will hold up over time. Manufactured laminate flooring has four layers that are fused together by direct or high pressure. When choosing laminate flooring, consider the different layers and the Abrasive Class, or AC, rating to find a laminate that best fits your needs.
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Laminate planks have a backing layer, which provides a barrier to moisture and adds to the structure integrity of the plank. The material used to construct the back layer affects the life of laminate. Choose a melamine or laminate backing that provides stability and protection against damage from water.
The core layer is made up of a variety of materials, depending on the manufacturer. When looking for a durable, high-quality laminate, choose a laminate that has either medium- or high-density fiberboard. The edges of the laminate should be treated with resin to help the laminate resist swelling that comes from moisture on the flooring.
Photographic and Wear Layers
The wear layer covers the photographic layer, which is the high-resolution picture of a hardwood floor. The photograph gives the laminate its appealing appearance. Laminate floors with poor quality images won’t look as nice and may have flaws or color differences. The wear layer will protect the photographic layer. The hard resin wear layer can be made from aluminum oxide, melamine or a resin-coated cellulose that has an abrasive class rating.
Abrasive Class Rating (AC)
The AC rating will help you determine if the laminate is suitable for your specific needs. The AC rating tells you the laminate's resistance to stains, impact, abrasions, burns and moisture. Most residential homes need a laminate with an AC rating of no more than three. The AC1 rating means the laminate is suitable for closets, bedrooms or other areas that have very low traffic. The AC2 rating means that the laminate is suitable for dining and living rooms that have medium traffic. Rooms in the home that have heavy traffic or a commercial setting with moderate traffic will do well with an AC3-rated laminate. AC4 is suitable for any room in a home or a commercial area with medium traffic. AC5 is used for high traffic that you would find in a department store.