What types of laminate are there and what is the best quality
Laminate is one of the most popular choices for flooring, yet few people know exactly what laminate is. As the name suggests, laminate is composed of a number of layers. This is exactly where the differences in type and quality arise. There are laminate types that are more resistant to wear, but there is also laminate that has a better appearance. In addition, there are also laminate types with special qualities, such as laminate that is resistant to water. All these types of laminate also have different prices. Fortunately, in order to be able to compare the quality properly, there is a classification in wear resistance, so that making the right quality choice does not have to be a problem.
What is laminate
Laminate is a product consisting of several layers, usually in the form of planks, which can be placed together in order to be able to lay a floor in this way. Every type of laminate contains a plastic layer on the top, intended to absorb wear. The quality of this layer differs, but can be measured in various quality classes. The layer below is the drawing, which is usually printed on some type of paper. This drawing is the appearance of the laminate and can, for example, have the appearance of a plank. Underneath is another load-bearing layer. This layer usually consists of pressed wood or plastic and is in fact the largest part of the laminate. All the way at the bottom is a plastic bottom layer.
The choice in appearance, color and price
The choice for a laminate floor is often determined by the color or appearance of the drawing. Given the many types of laminate available, the choice in drawings is also almost inexhaustible. A DIY store usually already has dozens of varieties in stock, but even this choice pales in comparison to the choice that some online providers have. Where the advantage of ordering online is the enormous choice, it is better in a DIY store to examine the drawing. For example, how does it appear in the light and is the drawing accurate enough? Price-wise, it can in some cases also be advantageous to order online, but some promotions from do-it-yourself stores are also so good that they can be cheaper than ordering online.
What does a laminate floor consist of and what types are there
While the drawing is obviously important, it may be equally important to consider the type of laminate flooring. There are many types of laminate flooring. However, the main distinction is between DLP, CPL, DPL and HPL. DLP is direct laminate printing and misses the printed layer, as it were. The print is printed directly on the supporting layer, usually of MDF or HDF material. With CPL, a continious pressed laminate, the laminate does have the aforementioned four layers, but the top layer is quite thin. DPL, direct pressed laminate, consists of the four standard layers and has a regular thickness top layer. HPL, high pressured laminate, is the highest quality laminate. The top layer, the layer that must resist wear, is therefore composed of a number of different layers of plastic at HPL.
How can I see what quality laminate is
Distribution in quality user classes for laminate
The quality of laminate can therefore already be partly deduced from the four production methods of laminate, with HPL being the highest quality. Still, there is a better way to measure quality, that is the AC user class distinction.
To determine the wear resistance, one looks at the quality of the top layer, the plastic top layer that protects the drawing. Various designations are distinguished, the so-called AC classes.
Laminate AC 1 class 21
AC 1 class 21 is the lowest quality class and is the least wear-resistant. In fact, this quality is not recommended, unless the laminate is hardly walked on. This could be used in an empty room or a guest room, but as soon as there is normal use, this quality is insufficient.
Laminate AC 2 class 22
AC 2 class 22 is suitable for regular use. This class can be used in rooms that are normally used, but may not be suitable for a living room or kitchen. The use of the latter locations is somewhat higher than with other rooms, which means that there is a risk of too much wear and tear.
Laminate AC 3 class 23/31
AC 3 class 23/31 is suitable for both heavy indoor and light commercial use. This is also the reason for the double designation 23/31 in the class.
Laminate AC 4 class 32
AC 4 class 32 is a regular commercial class, which means that this quality laminate is suitable for many commercial applications. As soon as the use becomes very intensive, such as a cafe or supermarket, it may be just a bit too light in quality.
Laminate AC 5 class 33
AC 5 class 33 is suitable for heavy commercial use and could therefore also be used in more frequented commercial establishments. Locations such as cafes and supermarkets are perhaps just a little too heavily burdened for this quality, but that also depends very much on the specific location.
Laminate AC 6 class 34
AC 6 class 34 is the toughest class. This quality can in fact be used anywhere, provided there is not too much moisture. Too much humidity can cause laminate to deform and this is no different for this class.
Special waterproof laminate
As mentioned, laminate is sensitive to water. Although this does not seem so at first, because of the plastic top layer, the material is susceptible to deformation due to water damage. This is mainly due to the intermediate layer of MDF or HDF. If this layer comes into contact with water, it can become saturated and warped. However, there are also rooms that have quite a lot of moisture, but still need to be provided with laminate. Special varieties have been developed for this that can withstand water better than regular varieties. These types cost a bit more than regular laminate.