In choosing a floor finish, choosing the right material that would last the lifetime of the space it will be installed on is ideal. At the very least, the material should last until the owners decide to change the look of the space, which includes the floor. Among many floor finishes available in the market today, laminate flooring can be a good choice for your homes or commercial space.
But then how many years will laminate flooring last?
If the right laminate flooring is used for a specific area, it will last a minimum of 15 years, possibly much longer with proper use and maintenance. 10 to 30 years warranty period is usually offered by some laminate flooring suppliers, also an indication of how long the product could possibly last.
You have to understand though that not all laminate flooring is made the same. There are specific laminate flooring made for specific areas. Choosing the wrong laminate flooring for a specific area will shorten its designed lifespan.
There are a few more things you should consider if you’re concerned with the durability and lifespan of the laminate flooring product that you plan to install.
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Proper Care will Increase Lifespan of Laminate Floorings
Just like anything in the world, proper care and maintenance given to laminate floorings will add years to its lifespan. Below are general rules to follow when caring for laminate floorings.
One of the general rules is to regularly clean laminate floorings. Sweep, dust, or vacuum the surface, keeping it free from any dust build-up. Dust particles may scratch the surface if left to accumulate.
Never use any harsh chemicals and abrasive cleaning materials to wipe the surface. You can use a damp cloth or cleaning materials specifically designed for laminate floorings.
Keep laminate floorings relatively dry at all times. Water or liquid spills are fine as long as you wipe it off with a damp cloth as soon as it happens. Never let liquid stand on the floor for a very long time.
It is also advisable to add adhesive felt pads to furniture legs to avoid scratching the surface of the floor when you move them around. In connection to this, try to avoid walking over the floor wearing footwear that is too abrasive.
Hire Competent Installers to Install your Laminate Flooring
Don’t just hire anyone to handle your laminate flooring.
There are specific planning and steps to consider before installing laminate floorings. Specific criteria have to be met, and details to follow during the installation process. Competent and experienced installers will know all these and will assure you of a quality installed product that will last.
Some of the considerations that should be met before and during installation include:
- Letting the laminate flooring to acclimate in the space at least 48 hours before installation
- Making sure the subfloor surface where the laminate flooring is to be installed is completely flat and free from any surface damage
- Adding an underlayment
- Providing space for expansion on the room perimeter
Choosing between Commercial and Domestic Classes
Most laminate floorings are classified into 2 major classes: Domestic and Commercial Classes. Basically, commercial laminate floorings are more durable than the domestic class variety as they are usually made to withstand areas with heavy user density and heavy abuse.
It also goes without saying that using a commercial class laminate flooring will definitely last longer than using a domestic class for the same area and condition it will be installed in.
You might be thinking, if that’s the case then let’s just use the commercial class in all areas and avoid any hassle with deciding between the two classifications. Technically there’s nothing wrong in doing that but then the commercial variety tends to be more expensive than the domestic class because of the same reason. If the budget is not a concern, then go ahead and install the commercial class.
The European Standard, through their European Norm for Floor Coverings, has a classification system indicating which areas and under what conditions a specific laminate product can be used. The North American Laminate Floor Association have their own classifications as well.
The classification given to a specific laminate flooring product can already give you an idea of how long it will last for which area you plan to install it.
Most known laminate flooring products have accreditation from a reputable testing agency following standards set by European or the American Standards. You would usually see their specific class in the boxes or packaging they are in. You may also ask for their technical datasheets from their respective suppliers.
Diving Deep into the Technical Datasheets
If you want to dive into the specific technical details of a specific laminate flooring product, you would need to understand their technical datasheets. This can also help you determine if the product will last long on the area we intend to install it to.
Every laminate flooring product will have a list of technical specifications or technical datasheets. Good laminate flooring products will have passed tests in accordance with international standards such as the European Standards or the North American Laminate Floor Association. They will then be assigned a specific class that they belong to.
European Standards CLASSES for Laminate Flooring
- 21 – Moderate Domestic Use
- 22 – General Domestic Use
- 23 – Heavy Domestic Use
- 31 – Moderate Commercial Use
- 32 – General Commercial Use
- 33 – Heavy Commercial Use
North American Laminate Floor Association classes
- 1 – Residential Use
- 2 – Light Commercial Use
- 3 – Commercial Use
The specific class assigned to a laminate flooring product depends on the results of the tests made to it.
Below are some of the common tests done to laminate floorings, the minimum acceptable values, and the class these values belong to.
Abrasion / Wear Resistance
This test measures the ability of the laminate flooring to resist abrasive wear through its top surface layer. The test is achieved by rotating a specimen of the product to abrasive material. The number of revolutions the specimen achieves before a defined degree of abrasion occurs is measured. A higher number indicates a better wear-resistant product.
|Average Abrassion Value||≥ 900||≥ 1800||≥ 2500||≥ 4000||≥ 6500|
|Min. Wear Resistance||1800||2500||4000|
This test determines the ability of the laminate flooring to resist fracture due to impact by a small or heavy object. The greater the value, the better impact resistance the material has.
|Large Ball Impact Resistance||>800mm||>1000mm||>1400mm|
|Small Ball Impact Resistance||>200mm||>200mm||>500mm|
This test measures the ease of cleanability and stain resistance of the floor laminate to common household substances.
For American Standards, a value less than 20 is acceptable and more resistant to staining.
|Cleanability / Stain Resistance||<20||<20||<20|
This test measures the ability of laminate flooring to resist swelling and thickness after being exposed to water. A lower percentage increase is better.
|Moderate||≤ 20%||≤ 18%|
|General||≤ 20%||≤ 18%|
|Heavy||≤ 20%||≤ 18%|
|Thickness Swell||≤ 20%||≤ 16%||≤ 16%|
Castor Chair Resistance
This test determines the change of appearance and stability of a laminate flooring under the movement of a castor chair. No change is ideal.
|Moderate||–||No change in appearance or damage|
|General||–||No change in appearance or damage|
|Heavy||No change in appearance or damage||No change in appearance or damage|
|Castor Chair Resistance||No Effect||No Effect||No Effect|