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Last edited 26 Jun 2020
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.
 What is laminate flooring?
- The top layer is a moisture resistant (but not waterproof), high resolution photographic image of a natural material - such as wood or stone. This layer is coated with a clear, protective (and sometimes scratch resistant) finish that prevents the image from fading with age or from exposure to sunlight.
- Below that is a core made from compressed fibreboard designed to stabilise the product.
- The bottom layer, which is often the same thickness as the core, is made from melamine resin. Its purpose is to add moisture resistance and noise absorption. It also strengthens the flooring and can help even out minor imperfections in the subfloor.
BS EN 13329 sets out the specification requirements for laminate flooring.
 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.
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.
- Concrete slab.
- Hardwood (but not engineered wood).
- Natural stone (if smooth).
- Oriented Strand Board (OSB) or particleboard.
- Porcelain tile.
- Vinyl tiles, sheets or planks.
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.
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
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.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Ash or oak wood flooring.
- BREEAM Speculative floor & ceiling finishes.
- Concrete floor.
- Cork flooring.
- Domestic floors: Part 1: Construction, insulation and damp proofing.
- Floating floor.
- Flooring defects.
- The Differences Between Engineered Flooring and Solid Hardwood Flooring.
- Types of floor.
- Types of flooring.
- Underfloor heating.
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