Laminate Flooring in The Commercial Setting
What is a laminate flooring material and what is the difference between commercial and residential grades?
The answer begins with the construction of a laminate.
From top to bottom a laminate flooring plank consists of:
- Melamine Wear-layer
- Print film for pattern.
- Kraft paper saturated with resins allowing the embossing for pattern and texture.
- Core saturated with resins for hardness and moisture resistance.
- Melamine backing for structural balance and stability.
Structurally, the inner core is generally made from high-density fiberboard and also forms the tongues and grooves for locking planks together. The core is also the base that all the upper layers and the backing material are fused too. Some manufacturers treat the inner core with melamine resins or water-resistant sealers to help protect the inner core from moisture.
The laminated planks are usually fused together in either a one or two step process. In the two-step process several layers are first glued together and then these layers are combined with the remaining materials and than glued and fused into a plank. This method is called High Pressure Laminate (HPL). The other method is where all materials are fused together in one step and this is called Direct Pressure Laminate (DPL).
Today, most laminate floors use some sort of glueless locking system, often referred to as “clic” floors. The two main glueless locking systems either involve a tongue and groove that is reinforced from underneath by an aluminum, mechanical locking system or a tongue-and-groove glueless locking system built right into the middle core that allows the planks to snap or clic together during installation.
To answer the question of “What is the difference between residential and commercial grade laminate flooring” is this:
- A slightly thicker core and slightly thicker wearlayer
- Possibly a combination of glueless and glued jointing system.
- Backing layer for stabilizing and balance. Many low end residential laminate floors have no backing.
- Resins added to core for additional moisture resistance.
With all the layers involved in the laminate construction, manufacturing has it’s share of problems and the product is often found in milling as well as between the structural layers. Manufacturing defects
cam be confused with moisture or installation defects leaving the need for mediation that can be resolved in a short period of time by commissioning an Independent Flooring Expert-Inspector.