Remember to Consider the AC Rating of Laminate Floor Products Before You Make a Purchase
AC ratings in the laminate industry represent not only the durability of a flooring product, but serve as a guideline for consumer use as well.
Laminate is thought to be some of the toughest flooring on the market. The top layer, or finish, is designed to prevent burns, scratches, and scrapes as well as be water resistant. The industry is serious about the durability of its product, and it has designed a widely acknowledged rating system to designate the strength of individual brands of laminate flooring.
The Testing Areas
Different styles of laminate flooring are not created equally. Ratings are assigned to the products based on extensive testing requirements. These tests include aspects such as staining and impact as well as an examination of the effects of small burns. Other tests include checking for water absorption and swelling, and the abrasion of furniture legs and castors. If a floor meets or exceeds the basic requirements in all of these areas, it is granted a graduated AC rating.
All reputable manufacturers of laminate flooring follow the guidelines set forth by the AC standards. Most manufacturers develop products in multiple strength categories, and the breakdown of the ratings is as follows:
Unrated laminate does not represent a wise investment. If a laminate product does not have a rating, it did not pass the certification process and was found lacking in one or more testing area.
AC 1 laminate is designated for light use in a home setting. It would be best suited for bedrooms where foot traffic is not particularly intense.
AC 2 flooring is also best for home use, but can withstand greater amounts of travel. AC2 laminate would be ideal in a formal room such as a living room or dining room.
AC 3 is durable enough for general home use in all traffic areas, and can be used in a professional setting with light foot traffic.
AC 4 is fit for commercial operations with standard amounts of foot traffic such as a small shop or office.
AC 5 is the toughest laminate flooring available, and is best used in a business with heavy amounts of foot traffic such as a public building or department store.
It is important to consider the AC rankings of a product before selecting that laminate for a project. The ratings exist to maintain certain standards in the industry which greatly benefits consumers.
For a residential flooring project, most laminates available in stores will be AC3, and a homeowner should strongly consider his needs if he plans to buy a laminate floor product ranked less durable than this, such as those with an AC1 or AC2 rating.
It might seem logical for the homeowner to upgrade to an AC4 or AC5 for a residential project to provide increased strength, but this may not be wise. As the laminates increase in rankings, the surface texture also increases in coarseness.
Despite their strength, AC 4 or AC 5 laminates may not be comfortable for bare feet, and companies throughout the industry report that socks with holes are a common complaint among individuals who chose AC 4 or AC 5 laminate for their home. The roughness of these high levels of flooring is too abrasive for stocking feet.
There is a vast number of selections available in all rankings and appearances, so you should have no trouble finding a laminate product that has the look you require for your flooring project, as well a suitable rating.