Laminate floors are comprised of several layers of different materials pressed firmly together. These include a moisture-resistant layer on the bottom followed by a fiberboard core that is comprised of real wood, a printed layer that gives the material an attractive appearance and a clear, protective topcoat. The specific materials and processes used to make laminate floors vary, and some of these factors directly impact its durability. When you purchase new flooring for your home, you understandably want to ensure that it will hold up well given the intended use or foot traffic in the area. When you learn about the laminate flooring AC rating system, you can easily determine which products may be a better fit for your home.
What Is the AC Rating System?
The AC rating system is also known as the Abrasion Class rating system. This system is used worldwide today, and it was originally created by the ELPF, or the European Producers of Laminate Flooring. In a typical home, a laminate floor may be stressed or impacted by exposure to moisture, heat, dropped items, scratching and other forces. In order to be rated by a system today, a flooring product must be tested under all types of stressors. If the flooring fails in even a single area, it will be classified as “unrated” under the laminate flooring AC rating system. You may assume that an unrated laminate flooring product simply has not been tested yet, but you can now see that this is not the case.
What Are the Classifications?
Laminate flooring manufacturers typically will publish their products’ ratings as they range between AC1 through AC5. In some cases, the rating may be signified using an image. For example, a picture of a house may be accompanied by a number, and this means that the flooring is suitable for use in a home with a specified number of people in it.
AC1 rating is used for residential rooms with light use, such as a guest room or an adult’s bedroom.
AC2 rating is a residential rating as well, and it may be suitable for areas of the home with moderate traffic. This may be in a living room or a dining room.
AC3 rating is mid-range flooring that could be used in a high-traffic residential space or in a low-traffic business property, such as a small office space.
AC4 rating is intended for general traffic in a commercial space, such as a larger office building, a beauty salon or another similar venue.
AC5 rating is the highest laminate flooring AC rating available. Laminate flooring with this rating is suitable for use in high-traffic commercial areas, such as department stores.
Why Do You Need to Know the Laminate Flooring AC Rating?
The most obvious reason why you should be aware of a product’s AC rating before making a purchase is to ensure that it is suitable for use in the intended space. The last thing that you may want to do is to deal with worn or damaged floor that otherwise may have been avoided with the installation of a superior class of flooring. Keep in mind that commercial-grade flooring generally has a rougher, more textured surface. You may be inclined to install AC5 flooring in a high-traffic area of the home to ensure longevity, but laminate flooring with this rating may be too abrasive or rough to look and feel comfortable in a home environment.
What AC Rating Should You Look for When Buying New Laminate Flooring?
Before you select new flooring for your home, you must analyze the type of traffic in the space as well as the abuse that it may endure. Children and pets may be particularly hard on flooring. You also should think about how frequently you entertain and how long you need the flooring to last. Flooring products with a lower AC rating are generally more affordable, so your preferred AC rating should be aligned with your budget. Keep in mind that some manufacturing processes can impact appearance as well. A lower AC rating is often associated with Direct Pressure Laminate processing, which enables the material to look more realistic. High-Pressure Laminate processing delivers a higher AC rating, but the material may not look as authentic.
The AC rating is only one of many factors that you should consider when selecting new flooring for your space. A smart idea is to consult with a flooring expert so that you choose a material that looks great and that is well-suited for the specific area of the home where it will be installed.