A Brief History of Laminate flooring
Laminate Flooring has come a long way since it was first brought to market in 1977 as a cheaper alternative to the high cost of real hardwood flooring. Laminate flooring has become more durable than real hardwood floors as it uses multiple layers of Medium Density Fiberboard (MFD) bonded together using high pressure and heat. The top or “wear layer” of the Laminate Flooring which covers the printed design element is made from Melamine Resin. This gives Laminate Flooring the ability to resist scratches, scuff marks, dents and stains while maintaining a high quality design element.
Germany once had the most technologically advanced process in making laminate flooring which was soon exported to China where much cheaper labour costs could be utilized. This meant China was now one of the frontrunners in manufacturing laminate flooring.
Although Germany, China and Switzerland all have similar manufacturing technology, not all laminate flooring is of the same quality. It is important that the process is examined to maintain the highest quality products. The European Producers of Laminate Flooring have come up with a rating system called the AC Rating which gives a numerical value to the durability of each product. Each product undergoes a series of tests to determine its AC Rating. If a product fails even 1 of the numerous tests, the product is disqualified from receiving an AC Rating.
The AC Ratings are as follows:
In any case, it is important to understand how to determine if a product is high quality or not. Here are 5 steps you can take to determine the quality of the product you are purchasing:
- Inspect the flooring, it should be free of any defects, chips, cracks, with perfect corners. The planks or tiles should be free from scratches, no drum lines, or design mars.
- Inspect the pattern or design. It should be clear, natural and smooth. It should be stain free and not hazy or ghost like.
- Inspect the seams to ensure there are no gaps or separation. The heights of the planks or tiles should be uniform with no perceptible difference to the touch.
- Laminate is highly polished, and low-quality laminate doesn’t stand up to excess polishing- inspect for damage to the top-layer.
- Smell the laminate to ensure there are no offensive odours- that could be caused by excessive formaldehyde use.