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How to Find a Laminate Floor That Lasts

How Laminate Floors Are Made

Laminate construction varies, but in general, it starts with brown paper, melamine resins and premium print paper for the top layer. The brown paper is pressed through rollers with colored resins that soak into the paper, then is dried and cut into sheets. The print paper is also soaked with melamine, but is soaked in a vat before going through the rollers and uses clear melamine resins to ensure that the paper does not alter the appearance of the design.

Next, the design layer is added, a piece of extremely high quality paper with a pattern printed on it. If the design is especially light, a white sheet may be inserted below it to make sure the bottom layers don't cause the top to yellow. At this point, there is a big difference in laminate construction. Direct Pressure Laminate (DPL) floors leave the wear layer and design layer separate and fuse both onto the core in the next step. High Pressure Laminate (HPL) presses the wearlayer and decorative paper together with an underlying layer of special extremely high-strength paper, then this layer is what is pressed onto the core. HPL floors are much stronger than DPL floors.

The brown papers are stacked to the specified height, then the top layer(s). A plate is often put on top to give the floor a specified texture. Then the whole thing is sent into a press with extremely high pressure (between 800-1500 pounds) that is slowly heated to close to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. This is often done using ultra-violet light, which makes sure the design does not discolor in the process. The temperature has to be very closely monitored to make sure that it bonds together with just enough heat to make it stick together permanently.

When this process is complete, the finished product is trimmed and sanded to specification and formed into planks or tiles.

A Laminate Floor's Durability is Built-In

The strength of the product is directly tied to the construction of the laminate. Products with thicker or a greater number of sheets of the underlying brown paper or with a high density of melamine are far more durable than ones with fewer and thinner sheets or with fewer melamine resins used in the process. So when examining a floor for durability, look directly to the core and weight of the product. Typically, the thickness and weight will directly correspond to the warranty issued as well. Additionally, the top wear layer has the same significance. If the wearlayer is thick with lots of dense melamine, it will perform much better under duress than a thinner wearlayer.

An Easy Way to Compare Laminate Floors

All these factors combine to determine the strength of the floors. The EPLF (European Producers of Laminate Flooring) have a system to make finding a specific floor's strength much easier. Each floor is rated on a numeric scale from AC1 (21) to AC5 (33). This scale rates laminate products on wear and abrasion resistance, and the higher the number, the better the floor. This can be important, because if you are placing the product in a high-traffic area, an AC1 (21) or AC2 (22) floor may wear out quickly, whereas an AC4 (32) or AC5 (33) will be extremely long-lasting in all but the heaviest of areas. For most residential areas, though, a floor rated AC3 (23 or 31) will do just fine.

About Laminate Wear Layers

The other factor that determines a floor's durability is the finish, or the wear layer type. All laminate floors are (as described above) made with a melamine finish, but many feature special additives that provide the floor with even more strength and resistance to abrasive wear; the most common of these is aluminum oxide. A naturally occurring compound, aluminum oxide is most commonly found on natural aluminum products, particularly ones used in outdoor settings with a dull appearance. This compound is known for its extremely high resistance to corrosion and excellent durability. When added to the melamine wear layer, it prevents most damage from everyday wear, as well as aiding in stain prevention and repelling water.

Warranty and Durability Are Not Necessarily Related

The core and the wearlayer are usually the only factors that affect the warranty. Even a millimeter (less than 1/25 of an inch) of thickness in the core can be the only difference between a floor with a 10 year warranty and a floor with a 15 year warranty. And two companies may both offer a 15 year warranty, but one may be costlier and better constructed than the other. Always base your buying decision on the thickness or wear rating of the floor, not on the warranty.

How Laminate Floors Are Made

[url=displaytype.php?f=6&t=1]Laminate[/url] construction varies, but in general, it starts with brown paper, [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melamine]melamine resins[/url], and premium print paper for the top layer. The brown paper is pressed through rollers with colored resins that soak into the paper, then is dried and cut into sheets. The print paper is also soaked with melamine, but is soaked in a vat before going through the rollers and uses clear melamine resins to ensure that the paper does not alter the appearance of the design.

Next, the design layer is added, a piece of extremely high quality paper with a pattern printed on it. If the design is especially light, a white sheet may be inserted below it to make sure the bottom layers don't cause the top to yellow. At this point, there is a big difference in laminate construction. Direct Pressure Laminate (DPL) floors leave the wear layer and design layer separate and fuse both onto the core in the next step. High Pressure Laminate (HPL) presses the wearlayer and decorative paper together with an underlying layer of special extremely high-strength paper, then this layer is what is pressed onto the core. [url=http://www.laminateflooringco.com/a-high-direct-pressure-laminate.html]HPL floors are much stronger than DPL floors[/url].

The brown papers are stacked to the specified height, then the top layer(s). A plate is often put on top to give the floor a specified texture. Then the whole thing is sent into a press with extremely high pressure (between 800-1500 pounds) that is slowly heated to close to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. This is often done using ultra-violet light, which makes sure the design does not discolor in the process. The temperature has to be very closely monitored to make sure that it bonds together with just enough heat to make it stick together permanently.

When this process is complete, the finished product is trimmed and sanded to specification and formed into planks or tiles.

A Laminate Floor's Durability is Built-In

The strength of the product is directly tied to the construction of the laminate. Products with thicker or a greater number of sheets of the underlying brown paper or with a high density of melamine are far more durable than ones with fewer and thinner sheets or with fewer melamine resins used in the process. So when examining a floor for durability, look directly to the core and weight of the product. Typically, the thickness and weight will directly correspond to the warranty issued as well. Additionally, the top wear layer has the same significance. If the wearlayer is thick with lots of dense melamine, it will perform much better under duress than a thinner wearlayer.

An Easy Way to Compare Laminate Floors

All these factors combine to determine the strength of the floors. The [url=http://www.eplf.com/en/]EPLF (European Producers of Laminate Flooring)[/url] have a system to make finding a specific floor's strength much easier. Each floor is rated on a numeric scale from [url=http://www.eplf.com/en/img/laminate/load_and_traffic_categories_800.gif]AC1 (21) to AC5 (33)[/url]. This scale rates laminate products on wear and abrasion resistance, and the higher the number, the better the floor. This can be important, because if you are placing the product in a high-traffic area, an AC1 (21) or AC2 (22) floor may wear out quickly, whereas an AC4 (32) or AC5 (33) will be extremely long-lasting in all but the heaviest of areas. For most residential areas, though, a floor rated AC3 (23 or 31) will do just fine.

About Laminate Wear Layers

The other factor that determines a floor's durability is the finish, or the wear layer type. All laminate floors are (as described above) made with a melamine finish, but many feature special additives that provide the floor with even more strength and resistance to abrasive wear; the most common of these is [url=compare.php?n=FNSH&v=Aluminum Oxide&f=6&t=1]aluminum oxide[/url]. [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alumina]A naturally occurring compound[/url], aluminum oxide is most commonly found on natural aluminum products, particularly ones used in outdoor settings with a dull appearance. This compound is known for its extremely high resistance to corrosion and excellent durability. When added to the melamine wear layer, it prevents most damage from everyday wear, as well as aiding in stain prevention and repelling water.

Warranty and Durability Are Not Necessarily Related

The core and the wearlayer are usually the only factors that affect the warranty. Even a millimeter (less than 1/25 of an inch) of thickness in the core can be the only difference between a floor with a 10 year warranty and a floor with a 15 year warranty. And two companies may both offer a 15 year warranty, but one may be costlier and better constructed than the other. Always base your buying decision on the thickness or wear rating of the floor, not on the warranty.