Laminate, Specifications

Laminate AC Ratings: What does it mean and why do they matter?

Intro

You’ve probably stumbled across AC ratings if you’ve ever looked at a laminate sample or researched laminate flooring. While it might be a handy detail to compare laminate products, it often is unclear what this rating means. We’re here to help.

What does AC 1-5 Stand For?

Laminate flooring products will often refer to a wear surface or AC rating, referring to the Abrasion Class test results for that floor. Several tests are performed to determine a laminate’s AC Rating, but the primary test is the Taber Abrasion test. An abrasion test utilizes a Taber abrasion machine which cycles a fine sandpaper across the laminate surface to determine how many rotations are needed before the decorative layer is damaged. In the United States, you will typically see ratings of AC1 through AC5.

  • AC1: Intended for moderate residential use in lower-traffic areas like bedrooms
  • AC2: Ideal for general residential use like living rooms
  • AC3: Best for residential entryways and higher traffic areas. It can also be used in light commercial applications like corporate office spaces
  • AC4: Recommended for any residential use or moderate commercial areas like boutiques and cafes
  • AC5: Suitable for heavy commercial use and high traffic areas, excluding rolling loads if the product is not glued down to the substrate.

Image Source Taber Industries: https://www.taberindustries.com/taber-rotary-abraser

How is Abrasion tested?

Abrasion Class is tested using a Taber abrasion machine, which rubs a fine sandpaper across the laminate surface. The AC rating is determined by how many rotations are needed to break through the melamine wear surface and wear into the decorative paper.

Check out this video from KronoTex, which shows the abrasion testing methods.

Will an AC3 laminate hold up in my home?

Definitely! AC3 rated laminates are ideal for just about any room in your home. Foot traffic at your entryway, one of the most abused areas in your home, is no match for an AC3 rated floor. If your laminate is also water-resistant or waterproof, you should feel confident putting it in your bathroom, kitchen, and laundry spaces.

Are you researching water-resistant laminate products for your home? Check these out:

Is laminate more scratch & dent resistant than luxury vinyl? 

The short answer is- probably. It can be hard to compare the flooring categories simply because they are made from different materials and use different test methods to determine resilience.

The construction of most modern laminates is a very dense core board that is exceptionally resistant to denting from dropped objects or unfriendly footwear. The melamine anti-scratch coating that is applied over the decorative paper (which gives the flooring its pattern and color) is a harder wear surface than the plastic wear layer applied to luxury vinyl.

As opposed to a wear surface on laminate, luxury vinyl has a plastic wear layer applied over the decorative film, ranging from 8mil up to 40mil thick. A good visual to imagine mil thickness is to think of the thickness of a page in the phone book or bible.  An additional coating (usually polyurethane) is then applied to enhance micro-scratch protection. A scratch on luxury vinyl usually will result in a more obvious white blemish on the flooring surface.

Is laminate more scratch & dent resistant than hardwood?

Undeniably, yes. Traditional hardwoods are beautiful and add tremendous value to a home; however, homeowners need to be more cautious about how they live on their hardwoods. As with any flooring category, some hardwood products will fare better in a busy household than others. Engineered hardwood will hold up better than solid hardwood when it comes to dents and dimensional stability. Still, no hardwood option can compare to laminate when it comes to durability in high traffic areas in a household.

Conclusion

AC Ratings are a valuable detail to understand when selecting a floor for your home. Knowing how a floor will perform can help you compare products and select a suitable option for your rooms and lifestyle.

Laminate flooring technology has advanced dramatically in the last decade and should be a serious contender when choosing a floor for the home. Superior wearability, paired with more realistic visuals than have ever been available, enable laminate to perform in a home while also elevating its style. Upgrading your laminate selection to a water-resistant option also allows you to have a consistent floor throughout the entire house. These features culminate to make laminate an easy choice for many homeowners.

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