Laminate Glossary


Acclimation

The adaptation of the laminate floor material to its installation environment.

 


Backing

The resin-impregnated backing layer of laminate flooring is located on the underside and is designed to compensate for the stress exerted on the overlay, décor paper, and sometimes soda Kraft paper. This prevents the weight and stress exerted from the topside, as well as moisture from the underside, causing the entire sheet to bow, also called 'dishing'.

Click-Laminate

Click Laminate is a type of flooring that utilizes a glue-free connection and, in comparison to conventional flooring, has many advantages for installers. A special profile on the edge of boards, called tongue and groove, allows adjacent boards to snap together for a tight fit without the need for an adhesive. The easy installation and lack of drying time can decrease installation time by up to 50%. This type of flooring is also reusable, meaning that sections can be removed and re-installed elsewhere without damaging the individual boards. The tight-fitting tongue and groove profile of the floorboards ensures that there will never be gaps between two pieces.

 

Core Layer

The core layer of laminate flooring consists of one of a variety of wood-based composites used to support the outer layers. These layers can be laminates or different types of veneers. HDF (high density fibreboard) boards are commonly used in laminate flooring production and range from 6 to 8mm in thickness. Click laminates have a core layer that is made with a higher amount of resin and therefore resist moisture effectively. Chipboard does not have the same technical characteristics, cannot handle the same loads, and is more difficult to install than HDF boards, clearly making them inferior and numbering the days until chipboard is no longer the market leader.

 


Cupping

Specific type of warping when a panel becomes "U"-shaped lengthwise or width across the face (concave).

 


Decorative Layer

Print film adhered on top of the core board which gives the floor its visual. This decorative layer is printed with high-definition photo-reproductions of wood grains, natural stone or tile patterns.


DPL (Direct Pressed Laminate)

Direct pressed laminate flooring is the most commonly used type of laminate flooring and is available in classes 21-32. DPL flooring is constructed by combining the following layers: overlay, décor paper, underlay, and backing layer. During manufacturing, these components are fused through heat and direct pressure, with the side profile being created after a cooling phase. This profiling is done according to the customer's needs, i.e. width and length. DPL flooring is produced with two types of profiling; tongue and groove or the Click System (sometimes called the Loc System).

 

DPL Process 

Resin-impregnated material layers are permanently bonded to the core.  All four components are fused in one step:

  1. Overlay

    wear-resistant, durable, and easy-to-care-for top layer
  2. Décor paper

    aesthetic aspect of the flooring
  3. HDF

    wooden underlay – the foundation of laminate flooring
  4. Backing layer

    moisture resistant layer to help maintain form

Dimensional Stability

The ability of a material to resist changes caused by environmental factors, such as moisture and or temperature.


Durability Rating

Laminate flooring's durability rating indicates its resistance to abrasion, as well as normal wear and tear. Values are listed as AC 1, AC 2, etc., according to DIN EN 13329:2006.

Current Values
Rating AC 1 AC 2 AC 3 AC 4 AC 5
IP-Value ≥ 900 ≥ 1500 ≥ 2000 ≥ 4000 ≥ 6000
Old Values
Old IP-Value 2000 4000 2500 10000 15000
Old classification W 1 W 2 W 3 W 4 W 5

To determine the durability rating of laminate flooring, a test piece of flooring is mounted inside a testing device and set against sandpaper-covered wheels. The wheels are run over the flooring and the damage level is checked after each 100 revolutions. Every 200 revolutions the sandpaper on the wheels is replaced. The IP value is determined to be the point at which wear from the sandpaper is first detected.


Expansion Joints

The joints must be used when the width and length of the flooring to be installed exceeds eight meters. This is necessary as the weight of flooring coupled with the additional weight of furniture causes swelling and contraction over time.

 


HDF (High Density Fiberboard)

HDF is a type of wood panel that is made from wood fibers. These panels are mainly used as a substrate for laminate flooring as they have a very homogenous structure and non-porous surface. HDF can therefore be directly printed upon, painted, or sealed. In comparison to MDF or chipboard, HDF boards have a higher density, which in turns means they have a higher tensile strength. These boards are also much more resistant to swelling and deformation. MDF and HDF are very aesthetically similar.

 


Vapor Barrier / Vapor Seal

Vapor barriers and seals are layers made of plastic (mostly polyethylene) and are designed to stop moisture from entering the laminate flooring from the subfloor, often times made of screed. A vapor barrier is necessary when the subfloor is made of screed, concrete, or asphalt, as these materials can attract condensation under the right conditions and transmit this moisture to the flooring above. The vapor barrier is only effective when installed on the warm side of the subfloor, meaning that it must be placed under the laminate flooring. Extending approximately 10cm up the adjacent wall, the vapor barrier is essentially a trough underneath the laminate. The vapor seal films are laid next to each other, overlapping and affixed with tape.

 


HPL (High Pressure Laminate)

This is considered to be the 'Mercedes' of laminate flooring. Based on its highly durable surface, HPL falls between the classes 32 and 33. HPL flooring is constructed with five layers: overlay, décor paper, multiple soda Kraft layers, wooden core, and backing layer. These components are combined together in two stages using both heat and pressure. In the first stage, the overlay, décor paper and soda Kraft layers are pressed together. The second stage sees the combination of the first stage and the wooden core and backing layer, both designed to support the underside of the laminate board. Following a cooling phase, the panels are then cut and profiled to order. HPL flooring is produced with either the simple tongue and groove joint or the Click-or Loc-System.

 

HPL production in three stages: 

  1. Overlay
  2. Décor paper
  3. Core layer
  4. Laminate layer: durable, easy-care surface
  5. HDF core layer, the foundation of laminate flooring
  6. Backing layer for vapor resistance and support

1st Stage

  • 2 overlay layers
  • 1 layer of décor paper
  • 3 core layers

These are combined under pressure to a form a decorative laminate layer.

2nd Stage

  • 1 layer of backing
  • 3 core layers

These are combined under pressure to form the backing, or support, layer.

3rd Stage

  • Decorative laminate layer
  • Backing layer

These are also combined under pressure to produce complete laminate flooring.


Laminate Classes

The classes help the consumer select the right product and to assist manufacturers in classifying their products. Laminates are classified by their resistance to abrasion and impact as well as colorfastness. The classification offers a recommendation to the consumer about the appropriate uses for each type of laminate (home vs. commercial use).

 

The following classification chart shows area of use, intensity of use, types of wear and examples of use, and is labeled with easy to understand pictograms:

Class Area of use Intensity of use Description of use Examples of use
Domestic
Private use areas
moderate light use bedrooms
guest rooms
Domestic
Private use areas
average normal, everyday use living room
dining room
hallways
Domestic
Private use areas
high high-traffic, intense use Stairways
entry halls
kitchen
Commercial
Private and public use areas
moderate light use Hotel rooms
conference rooms
small offices
Commercial
Private and public use areas
average normal, everyday use Kindergarten
offices
waiting areas
hotel lobbies
stores
Commercial
Private and public use areas
high high-traffic, intense use Hallways
large offices
shopping malls
classrooms

Melamine Resin

Helps improve the moisture resistance and durability of the core board of laminate floor covering.

 


Peaking

Seams that have raised where the laminate is joined

 


Subfloor Strength

Installing laminate flooring on a hard, strong surface is key. Before beginning to lay laminate flooring, ensure that the surface does not move when loaded, either vertically or laterally. If you install laminate flooring over a soft subfloor, you'll experience compression and flexion. Carpeting is not a suitable surface for laminate flooring.

 


Wall Clearance

The distance between the walls and the base laminate flooring is important and must be properly considered and calculated. This distance should be between 12 and 15mm and will be determined by the provided spacers. Laminate flooring is wood-based flooring that shrinks and swells over time with changes in humidity. Therefore, it is very important that the flooring has room to "breath". This will help to avoid damage caused by swelling in the future. Damage can also occur from the following: open joints, swelling parallel to the longitudinal joints, compression and subsequent cracking of the decorative layer, and rises in the floor.