Not all laminate is the same. This beautiful and inexpensive flooring is now so en vogue that you find it at home, in offices, bars and restaurants. There is therefore a general distinction between private and commercial use. Depending how much stress is going to be put on the laminate, it can also be worth thinking about the so-called usage classes. These indicate which laminates are recommended for which uses.
Performance and usage classes
The terminology seems complicated but is actually very simple. Performance, usage and abrasion classes all relate to the strain that will be put on the floor. Usage classes 21, 22 and 23 are all for private use; 21 means that the laminate will come under very light use, 23 that, by domestic standards at least, it will be heavily used. Usage classes 31 to 33 are for commercial and/or public sectors. 31 would be a hotel room – it is light use, but still needs to withstand more than a laminate would be subjected to at home. 33 is for heavy use, for example in a reception area or sales room.
Laminate abrasion classes
Sandpaper is used to determine the abrasion class. The laminate is subjected to 100 revolutions of a test block to see what damage is done; the abrasion is then measured and used to allocate the abrasion class. The initial abrasion point (IP) is the point at where damage is first detected on the laminate, i.e. where the decorative print has been worn through. The IP varies between 900 and 6500. The five abrasion classes begin with AC1, which covers laminate boards that damage relatively quickly and have a high level of abrasion. AC5, on the other hand, is very robust. Before buying your laminate, check how much wear and tear it will get – that way, there won’t be any nasty surprises.