Last edited 06 Feb 2021

Laminate flooring



[edit] Introduction

The term ‘flooring’ refers to the lower enclosing surface of spaces within buildings. This may be part of the floor structure, such as the upper surface of a concrete slab or floor boards, but typically it is a permanent covering laid over the floor. There are many types of flooring materials available. For more information see Types of flooring.

[edit] What is laminate flooring?

Laminate flooring is a synthetic flooring product made from multiple layers. Modern click and lock laminate floors 'float' - in that they are not fixed to the layer underneath.

While there are many different laminate flooring manufacturing methods, they are generally based on variations of a similar composition:

BS EN 13329 sets out the specification requirements for laminate flooring.

[edit] History of laminates

Laminate flooring has been on the market since the 1970s. The Swedish Chemical Company Perstorp AB Holdings is credited with inventing laminate flooring in 1977. The team was given the task of modifying laminate kitchen countertops for use as flooring materials. The resulting product was launched in Sweden under the name Perstorp Golv GL80 in 1980. It was introduced to European markets in 1984 as 'Pergo' and taken to North America in 1994.

Early iterations of laminate flooring were often considered inferior to real wood due to poor printing quality and manufacturing processes. Glue-based installation methods sometimes resulted in buckled surfaces.

Over time, printing technology and installation improved. Current laminate flooring products can include realistic bevels, grooves and embossed surface textures to make them look and feel more authentic. A glueless click and lock method was introduced in 1996.

Laminate flooring products are now available in a wide range of patterns, textures, widths, lengths and thicknesses.

[edit] Installation

Based on the click and lock method, installation of laminate flooring is fairly simple and a professional contractor may not be required.

An important part of the installation process is the preparation of the flooring surface. While it may or may not be necessary to remove old flooring, a suitable underlay should always be used. Since this installation method creates a floating surface, it is possible to put one floor on top of another, with underlay in between, as long as the surface is clean, flat and dry.

Under the right conditions, a laminate floor may be installed over the following surfaces:

Before installation, materials should be given time to acclimatise to their environment. The unopened boxes can sit for 48 hours or more at normal room temperature to give them time to adjust.

Next, it may be beneficial to arrange the laminate materials on the floor as a mock up before installing them. While the click and lock method isn’t permanent, this planning step helps to anticipate cuts and adjustments created by the shape of the room or difficult areas around doors.

It is important to leave slight gaps between the floor and the wall for expansion once the boards are locked in place.

[edit] Durability

Laminate flooring is rated for its durability based on an Abrasion Criteria (AC) system. On a scale from one to five, these ratings measure wear resistance and help determine the suitability of products for different applications:

  • AC1—moderate domestic applications
  • AC2—general domestic applications
  • AC3—heavy domestic applications or moderate commercial traffic
  • AC4—general commercial traffic
  • AC5—heavy commercial applications

High quality laminates may have a 20-year warranty.

[edit] Maintenance

Laminate floors require minimal maintenance and may be installed with underfloor heating. However, underfloor heating should be increased gradually over a period of several days during its first use or after long periods when it has been turned off.

Cleaning simply requires sweeping, although more serious stains can be treated with wood floor cleaner and a damp mop. Water should not be left standing on laminate flooring surfaces.

It is not possible to sand or refinish laminate floors if they become damaged or worn.

Many laminate floors are recyclable and can be reprocessed into other products. Old laminate floors should not be incinerated, due to the chemicals that are part of the manufacturing process.

--Heidi Schwartz

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