How do I judge the durability of a laminate floor?
The AC rating of a laminate floor determines its suitability for location and its durability.
AC stands for ‘Abrasion Class’ and is an internationally accepted system for classification of residential and commercial grades of flooring.
The top decorative layer of most laminate flooring is made from reinforced melamine resin which is highly wear resistant. To determine wear and tear a Tabar abrasion machine uses a specific grade of sandpaper to wear away the laminates surface layer.
This test replicates years of wear compressed into a short duration which is a reliable indicator of abrasion resistance. As the total number of Tabar wear cycles increases, so does the product’s durability. After 50 turns the abrasive paper is replaced and the wear reassessed. A total of 50 turns is representative of one year of residential wear. Using a rating scale, the laminate floor is then classified with an AC rating.
This ranges from AC1 to AC5 with AC 1 – 3 for residential use and AC4 – 5 being the most resistant classes for commercial applications. For residential use, AC3 rated laminate flooring is the ideal choice thanks to its excellent durability, cost effectiveness and versatility. You can use AC3 rated laminate everywhere in your home knowing it can stand the high traffic areas of living rooms, kitchens, stairs and hallways.
Woodland Lifestyle’s Vitality Deluxe flooring has a tabar rating of 3000 cycles which is in the top end of AC3 Heavy Residential/Moderate Commercial. Balterio Grande has a rating of 4000 cycles or AC4 General Commercial suitable for all residential uses as well as more heavy traffic areas such as offices, cafes and boutiques. This represents residential wear of 60 and 80 years respectively.
The highest durability rating of AC5 is suitable for restaurants, showrooms, department stores and public buildings.
How long your laminate floor will last depends on the product selected, the amount of traffic and how well the product is cared for. Based on the Tabar test, consumers can be assured of the 25-year warranties available on some laminate floors, which indicate many years of use.
Words by L M Powell