Testing the Durability of Decorative and Laminate Flooring

Shutterstock | Bilanol

Shutterstock | Bilanol

Over the past decade and a half the popularity of laminate flooring  has substantially increased due to its durability, easy maintenance, and seemingly endless design styles.

However, it may be difficult for the average consumer to understand the varying quality levels of the floorings; a situation further complicated by the existence of 25 and 30 year waranties.

 

Analysis

The appearance of laminate flooring is based on its decorative layer, which is actually a high-resolution picture. To give the product its durability, the top layer of most laminate flooring is made from melamine resin; a highly wear-resistant material. Although laminate flooring is very durable, when the layer is worn through by excessive foot traffic or other means damage may occur to the decorative layer.

A set of internationally-recognized test standards describe various procedures which evaluate the physical properties of the laminate flooring. These test standards are adhered to by all reputable manufacturers of laminate flooring. Flooring manufacturers employ the Taber Rotary Platform Abraser in order to ascertain the “normal” wear and tear tolerance levels of the product. The test indicates abrasion resistance characteristics by measuring the number of wear cycles completed until the first damage to the decorative layer is noted. By this accelerated test, many years of wear can be compressed into a very short time span.

The laminate flooring producer employs a rating scale and determines the particular classification a laminate floor satisfies and the market segment that should be promoted to. The product’s durability increases when matched by a rise in the total number of Taber wear cycles. Examples of the AC ratings include:

  • AC1 Moderate Residential: Intended for infrequent traffic and light residential use (i.e. bedroom)
  • AC2 General Residential: Able to handle moderate foot traffic for most residential spaces (i.e. dining room or living room)
  • AC3 Heavy Residential/Moderate Commercial: Can be applied to more varied locations, including high-traffic rooms and commercial spaces with light traffic (i.e. small offices)
  • AC4 General Commercial: Suitable for all residential uses as well as more heavy traffic commercial areas (i.e. boutiques, offices, and restaurants)
  • AC5 Heavy Commercial: Recommended for commercial use in high traffic spaces (i.e. public buildings and department stores)

Benefit

The durability of a laminate floor is based on the product selected, how much traffic it is subjected to, and how well it is maintained. Based on the results of the Taber test, consumers can be confident that their laminate flooring will have a long lifespan. [Note: Most product warranties do not cover abnormal wear and tear as a result of insufficient protection from furniture, or encountering spike-heeled shoes or abrasive materials such as loose sand].

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Taber Industries.

For more information on this source, please visit Taber Industries.

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