Laminate flooring is a versatile, durable, attractive flooring product that can take on several different appearances like stone, tile or wood. A laminate floor is made by pressing together several layers of materials into one board. These layers are: decorative layer protected by transparent wear layer on top, high density fibreboard (HDF) or sometimes medium density fibreboard (MDF) as a core and stabilising layer on the bottom.

The decorative layer is actually a high-resolution photographic image of a stone, tile or wood surface printed on a paper. The main purpose of the core is to support weight and stress of foot traffic. Core is made of high density fibreboard (HDF) or medium density fibreboard (MDF). High density fibreboard (HDF) is a type of engineered wood product. It’s made from wood fibre extracted from chips and pulped wood waste. HDF for flooring is similar but much harder and denser than particle board or medium density fibreboard (MDF) for flooring. It has a density greater than 50 pounds per cubic foot or 800 kg per cubic meter.
This makes for a perfect stabilising material for laminate floors and engineered hardwood flooring. HDF for flooring cannot be used outside because it absorbs water. A tempered form of hardboard is made by adding oil that becomes a polymer when the board is formed under high temperature and pressure. This gives it resistance against moisture, hardness, and strength. This tempered hardboard can be used in construction siding. MDF is also an engineered product. It is made up of wood wastage fibres glued together with resin or glue under heat and pressure. It is similar to particle board but denser. MDF has a density of 600-800 kg/m³. It also doesn’t warp or swell easily in high humidity areas like bathrooms or washrooms. Once again, these characteristics make it an ideal core layer material for laminate flooring and engineered floors. MDF is also regularly used in the making of furniture, cabinetry, wall panels, shelving, storage units, decorative moulding, and doors. Due to its insular qualities in sound and heat, MDF, is also used in acoustic enclosures such as loudspeakers and sub-woofers. Role of stabilising layer at the bottom is to further unsure strength of laminate flooring.
Laminate flooring offers various surface types that comes out during pressing phase of manufacturing process.

  • Smooth — A plain finish just like a layer of varnish you would associate with hardwood. Sometimes you can choose between high, medium and low gloss finishes.

  • Embossed or textured — Some laminates come with a textured finish. Regular embossing is not an exact match up with the grooves of the printed grain but does fool the eye into seeing a surface grain.

  • Distressed/Hand scraped — Handscraped surface which was reserved only for engineered or solid hardwood floors is now available in laminate flooring. It looks like waves and adds an antiqued look to your laminate floor. Distressed look is an imitation of chisel woodwork on real wood floors.

  • Embossed in Registration — This type of embossing matches exactly the grain of the wood to make laminate look like wood.
  • A transparent wear layer is applied over the décor layer and is then treated with one or more coats of an aluminium oxide finish. This process makes for the incredible wear resistance against scratches, burns, dents and stains that laminates are so famous for.
    An AC rating is a common term used to indicate the durability level of laminate flooring. These ratings are applied to all laminate floors by an independent body known as European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF). To help buyers understand the difference in durability among laminate flooring products, these ratings indicate a laminate’s resistance to stress. To assign the AC rating, a series of tests are carried out in order to assess each line of laminate flooring for resistance to burns, scratches, stains and impact. These tests also examine the effects of furniture legs, castors and thickness swelling along flooring edges. Laminate flooring has a rating only if it has passed all of the tests, as failing a single test disqualifies a product. The AC rating assigned after testing specifies the level of stress and the suitable location for the laminate flooring to be installed. These ratings will also tell you if the laminate flooring can be used in residential or commercial areas.

    AC1 - Defined as moderate residential. It is suitable for closets or bedrooms.

    AC2 — Defined as general residential. It is suitable in all residential spaces that are subjected to medium foot traffic such as dining rooms or living rooms.

    AC3 — Defined as heavy residential and moderate commercial. It is suitable for all residential areas (also corridors and walkways) and even small commercial spaces like offices without off-street traffic and hotel rooms.

    AC4 — Defined as general commercial. Built to withstand all kinds of residential areas as well as medium sized commercial spaces that have off-street traffic like open-space offices, cafes and boutique stores.

    AC5 — Defined as heavy commercial. Built for big commercial applications with high foot traffic like department stores and government buildings.

    Then there’s the locking system. It’s the system or the way the laminate boards will click together to form your floor. It’s the hallmark of laminate flooring to come with glueless, click-lock joints or locking systems that are easy to install. That’s why installing laminate floors has become something many people can do themselves. You virtually never need to glue a laminate floor to a subfloor nor build a level subfloor first like you would have to do with a solid hardwood installation.