Commercial-Grade Laminate Flooring 101
Commercial-grade laminates have become a popular flooring solution for small, large, and medium businesses all over the world. Discover the advantages of these flooring products, how they’re rated, and how to choose the best commercial-grade laminate for your company.
What is Commercial-grade Laminate?
Laminate floorboards are a synthetic flooring solution. Each laminate floorboard comprises several layers engineered to work for residential and commercial spaces. The top layer is a wear layer, which protects the floorboard from scratches, fading, and other signs of damage. Underneath is an image design layer, which gives the laminate an aesthetically pleasing appearance. The core beneath this is made from dense fiberboard reinforced with resin, making it strong and resistant to moisture. Finally, there’s the backing layer, which is also moisture resistant to ensure the floorboards don’t warp.
Commercial-grade laminate is any laminate with a medium to high AC rating. Like all laminates, commercial-grade laminates are engineered to look like popular floor coverings. Most commonly, laminates resemble floorboards made from woods such as oak, hickory, and ebony. There are also laminates that look like ceramic or stone tiles.
Understanding the AC Rating System
All laminates receive an AC rating, from AC1 to AC5, from the European Producers of Laminate Flooring to reflect their resistance to stress. This independent body subjects each laminate to a series of tests to evaluate its performance. The laminates are burned, scratched, stained, and put under duress. The impact of furniture legs, castors, and thickness swelling along flooring edges are also assessed. Laminates must achieve minimum scores in all tests conducted. If a laminate fails a test, it is rejected and does not receive a rating.
As the most durable laminates available, commercial-grade laminates receive AC ratings of AC3, AC4, or AC5. The AC1 and AC2 laminates, which are less resistant to stress, are only recommended for residential dwellings
Advantages of Commercial-grade Laminates
Commercial-grade laminates have several advantages over other floor coverings. These flooring solutions are made to withstand heavy foot traffic from employees, customers, and clients, as well as the impact of everyday grit and dust. Commercial-grade laminates also require minimal maintenance to maintain their good looks. Vacuum up dust settled on the surface and use a damp mop and laminate spray for a more thorough cleaning. While laminates are more resistant to moisture than wooden floorboards, water can still warp them. Make sure your mop is damp, not wet, when cleaning laminate.
Businesses will also note that commercial-grade laminates are a relatively affordable solution when compared to other flooring alternatives, including the hardwood floorboards they commonly mimic. The savings that companies make on their flooring can be better used in initiatives to help their operations grow.
Different Types of Commercial Settings
Commercial settings are typically classified as light, medium, or heavy, depending on their use. These ratings indicate the level of foot traffic each setting receives. Light use settings include hotel rooms and small offices. These environments receive relatively little foot traffic. On the other end of the scale, we have heavy use commercial environments, such as open-concept or large offices, public buildings, and department stores. Somewhere in between are medium use settings, including boutique stores, cafes, and midsized office buildings.
Using the AC Rating to Choose the Right Laminate for Your Business
As a business owner, you should think carefully about the type of commercial-grade laminate and AC rating to best suit your needs.
A laminate’s AC rating may be the most important factor to consider, as this will indicate how well your flooring will stand up to daily punishment. If your business receives regular, medium-to-heavy foot traffic, as department stores do, look for laminates with an AC4 or AC5 rating. Small businesses with few employees and visiting clients or customers, such as suburban medical practices, may be able to use an AC3 laminate.
Laminates with lower AC ratings are typically less expensive than those with higher ratings. But don’t be tempted to skimp and choose a lower rated laminate than you really need. If your laminate flooring isn’t made to withstand the foot traffic you receive, it will show scratches and may even crack. Replacing laminate that was inadequate for your purposes will be much costlier in the long run.
Other Factors to Consider When Choosing Commercial-grade Laminate
There are likely to be several different laminates available with your desired rating. Selecting the right style is a matter of personal preference. Consider the color of existing décor, such as your office walls and furniture, and the look you’re trying to achieve in your commercial premises.
In addition, you should consider how thick the laminate is. While the thickness is less important when determining durability than the AC rating, there are still several advantages to thick laminate boards. Thicker planks are easier to install, so you might find using them reduces your installation costs. Thicker planks also absorb sound better than thinner planks, so they’re ideal for shared office spaces and busy restaurants. With equivalent underlay, a thicker plank also provides a more pleasant walking experience than a thinner plank.
There are also various locking types available. Glueless click laminates are the most commonly available and the easiest to install. Glued laminate is much stronger, but it costs more money and time to install. You can also find pre-glued laminates, with a glue that adheres with moisture and laminates with underlays already attached. The type of locking system is most important for small to medium business owners attempting their own renovations.
Finally, consider the warranty on your laminate’s finish. Most laminate flooring is guaranteed for between 10 and 30 years. In some cases, you may even receive a lifetime warranty. The longer a manufacturer’s warranty, the better it will resist damage, fading, and discoloration. Your warranty will also protect you against manufacturing defects. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s installation and maintenance instructions, or you could void your warranty.
Commercial-grade laminates are relatively new, but with so many benefits, these synthetic flooring products are ideal for use in various small, medium, and large businesses.