What is Laminate Flooring made up of?

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Posted by admin | Posted in Tips & Advice | Posted on 13-09-2010

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Laminate flooring provides the look of solid hardwood flooring along with benefits such as below-grade installation and ease of installation. It is often made from recycled or reclaimed materials, too. Different materials make up the laminated layers of the flooring’s planks and tiles.

Laminate Layers
The planks and tiles of laminate flooring consist of different layers of material laminated together. Each layer serves a specific purpose, and most laminate flooring has four or five basic layers.

Wear Layer
The top layer is made of a hard, scratch-resistant product that protects the underlying surface from scratches, dents and chips. Aluminum oxide makes up this transparent wear layer on many brands of laminate flooring.

Pattern Layer
Less expensive laminate flooring may include photosensitive paper for the pattern. Better flooring has a thin sheet of real wood. Manufacturers may stamp a “grain” into the pattern layer to enhance the appearance or to improve traction.

Substrate
The bulk of the plank or tile, the substrate has the pattern layer glued to its top and a stabilizer layer glued to its bottom. Substrates are essentially particle board made from fine particles of wood and resin.

Stabilizer Layer
The stabilizer layer keeps the product from warping and twisting. It is a moisture-resistant or moisture-proof layer that resists absorbing water from the atmosphere. A plastic called melamine is frequently used as the stabilizer layer.

Underlayment
Some laminated flooring has foam underlayment already installed, saving time during the installation process. The underlayment is glued to the stabilizer layer and may be made of Styrofoam, neoprene or other padding.

Why does Laminate Flooring Warp?

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Posted by admin | Posted in Tips & Advice | Posted on 13-09-2010

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Laminate flooring is generally designed for use in such areas as the den, living room, dining room and bedroom. If it’s a lower-grade type floor, it’s usually best not to install it in areas that are subject to moisture such as the bathroom or kitchen, as the subsequent outcome can be warping or buckling. Moisture damage or warping can result due to the grade of the flooring, how it was installed, the humidity level in the home and how the floor’s been maintained.

Grades of Flooring
Laminate flooring is graded by a system with AC1 being considered the lowest grade and AC5 regarded as the premium grade. Flooring with an AC5 designation is manufactured for commercial use and used in areas with a great deal of foot traffic. AC1, on the other hand, is used in areas with very light foot traffic. Ratings of AC2 or AC3 are the standard grades for flooring used in residential settings. Therefore, flooring which hasn’t been rated or has a lower rating is more susceptible to water damage and warping.

Warranties
Although warranties for laminate floors usually guarantee against stains and UV damage, they normally don’t cover damage from moisture.

Installation
Most kinds of laminate flooring use a floating construction method; in other words, the floor is installed to lie on top of the subfloor without the use of glue or staples. Warping can result when there is too much moisture underneath the flooring as a result of ice makers, refrigerators or leaking pipes. This can also happen when the floor has been glued down. So it’s important that the area where the flooring is installed is free from the assault of moisture.

Humidity
Too much humidity can cause a laminate floor to warp as well. The use of a dehumidifier can eliminate the problem.

Maintenance
The laminate floor can also buckle if it’s improperly maintained. Laminate floors only need minimal cleaning. Solvents and brushes specifically made for the floors should be used. For instance, drenching the floor while mopping it can cause the floor to expand and buckle.

Laminate Flooring Construction Layers & Abrasion Rating

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Posted by admin | Posted in Tips & Advice | Posted on 13-09-2010

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Laminate flooring comes in both planks and square tiles. Laminate flooring is constructed with several different layers of various materials that are thermofused together to form the laminated flooring planks and tiles.

The Four Basic Laminate Flooring Construction Layers

  • Wear Layer – This is the transparent top surface that protects the floor from scratching, staining, scuffing and also protects the printed design layer below. The wear layer is a combination of melamine with aluminum oxide particles which makes it extremely durable.
  • Photographic Image Layer- This is the photographic image layer of either a real hardwood plank, ceramic tile, stone or some other material. The photographic images are extremely clear, vibrant and realistic. Combined with texturizing the top layer this creates a true, authentic looking, natural floor appearance. For example, some laminate designs are actually photographic images of old historical floors.
  • Inner Core Layer – The inner core is generally made from high-density fiberboard and also used to form the tongue and groove edges for locking laminated planks together. The core is also the base for the photographic image and wear layer.Most manufacturers also saturate the inner core with melamine resins or a water-resistant sealer to help protect the inner core from moisture.
  • Backing Layer – is fused to the Inner Core to add stability and create a barrier that helps protect the planks from moisture and warping. Like the Inner Core the backing is also treated with some sort of water-resistant sealer.

Note: The Inner Core combined with the Backing layer are what really make up the overall thickness of each plank. Planks generally range from 8 mm to 12 mm in thickness. The thicker planks are more rigid and help overcome minor irregularaties in the sub-flooring..

Abrasion Co-efficient (DAMAGE/ SCRATCH) Rating (AC Ratings)

Laminate flooring manufacturers have also adopted a method of scoring the durability of the top layer to help consumers with choosing the right laminate floor for their situation. This is called the AC Ratings. The AC stands for Abrasion Coefficient. The AC Ratings go from AC1 to AC5, with AC5 being the best. Both the in-store samples and laminate flooring cartons should have their AC Rating marked for consumers to see. For very active areas and kid’s play rooms it’s best to choose a laminate floor with an AC Rating of AC3 or greater.

AC Ratings Overview
AC1 – floors with this rating are suitable for low traffic areas, such as bedrooms.
AC2 – floors suitable to low to medium traffic, such as living rooms or dining rooms
AC3 – floors suitable for most areas in homes, including hallways and light commercial
AC4 – any where in the home as well as commercial buildings. For example: an office or store
AC5 – can be used in heavy traffic commercial areas.

Laminate Flooring Definitions for some Commonly Used Terms

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Posted by admin | Posted in Tips & Advice | Posted on 13-09-2010

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  • Backing – is usually a melamine plastic layer used to give additional structural stability and added moisture protection to the planks.
  • Core - generally made from high-density fiber board (HDF), particle board, or plastic, the core adds impact resistance, and forms the tongue and groove locking system. Melamine plastic resins are also impregnated in the core by some of the manufacturers to improve the moisture resistance of the core.
  • Melamine – is a plastic-type resin used throughout the construction process to add durability, and stability to the laminated planks.
  • Print Film – which is also called the decorative layer gives the floor the appearance of a real hardwood or tile. Some manufacturers, have been able to replicate the old wood floors found only in some old historical buildings.
  • Wearlayer – is a tough clear melamine layer with aluminum oxide particles. Using heat and pressure the wearlayer becomes an incredibly hard and durable finish. The resin-filled wearlayer is so dense it becomes extremely difficult to stain, scratch, or burn.
  • Underlayment – is a clear thin plastic sheet that is installed over the substrate before the laminate floor is floated. The plastic sheet helps the laminate floor to float freely above the substrate.



Tips on – Spot Cleaning Laminate Floors

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Posted by admin | Posted in Tips & Advice | Posted on 13-09-2010

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To remove oil, paint, permanent marker, tar, rubber heel marks, use a neutral cleaner on a clean light colored cloth. If needed, use alcohol or a nail polish remover containing acetone. To remove blood, fruit juice, wine, beer, soda pop, pasta sauce, use warm water.

If needed use a neutral cleaner on a light colored cloth. To remove candle wax or chewing gum, first harden with ice and then scrape very gently. Wipe the rest with warm water on a clean light colored cloth.

If your laminate is scratched, see if you can buy a touch up stick from your manufacturer. The area you repair will look, hold up to traffic and wear just like the rest of the laminate floor.

In case of more severe damage, which is unlikely to take place in most of the homes, a trained professional can be called to replace a plank. The new plank should be almost indistinguishable from the rest, if done properly.

Is Pergo Laminate Flooring made of Wood?

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Posted by admin | Posted in Tips & Advice | Posted on 13-09-2010

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Eighty percent of Pergo laminate flooring is composed of wood chips. Pergo uses by-products from spruce and pine trees, and does not use any wood obtained from rain forests or exotic wood.

Tips On – Is Laminate Wood Flooring Toxic?

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Posted by admin | Posted in Tips & Advice | Posted on 13-09-2010

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Laminate wood flooring is not toxic!!!

The low formaldehyde content of floor releases an insignificant amount of emissions, from .0005 and .0003 parts per million (ppm). Research published in “Building and Environment” in 2002 suggests floor heating may increase the emissions from laminate wood floors. A coat of sealant reduces potential exposure.

Comparing Hardwood Flooring versus Laminate Flooring

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Posted by admin | Posted in Tips & Advice | Posted on 09-09-2010

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This is a very general comparison between engineered hardwood flooring and laminate flooring to help you to better understand these floor groups. Please note, hardwood flooring comes in some many different species, finishes and construction types and that it is very difficult to place them all in one general category, so pre-finished engineered hardwood flooring is used for this comparison. See your local flooring store for additional advice and recommendations.

Special Note: This is a very general comparison and characteristics will vary depending on the manufacturer and consumer usage. Always read the manufacturer’s written brochures for specific product details, recommendations and warranties.

Prefinished Engineered
Hardwood Floor
Laminate Floor
Visual Appearance excellent good
Scratch Resistance good4 very good
Stain Resistance fair1 excellent
Fade Resistance fair2 excellent
Impact Resistance good excellent
Ease of Maintenance good very good
Moisture Resistance fair good
Ease of Repair good poor
Can floor be refinished? yes (not acrylic impregnated) no
Install over concrete slab if glue or float yes, floating
Manufacturer’s Warranty good good
Installation Methods glue, staple, float some pre-glued
glueless, floating
Easy To Install (DIY) glueless floating – yes
staple-down – maybe
glue-down – messy
Yes
Life expectancy of floor (in years) 25+3 < 20
  1. Some hardwood flooring factory finishes have very good stain resistance
  2. Some wood stains when exposed to direct UV sunlight may change colour more than others
  3. Quality hardwood floors can last for a lifetime with proper care & refinishing
  4. Some UV-cured urethane finishes have aluminium oxide crystals embedded in the finish and are extremely durable

Advice on Laying Laminate Flooring

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Posted by admin | Posted in Tips & Advice | Posted on 09-09-2010

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When it comes to a combination of incredibly good looks, simplicity of installation, durability and price then there are few other flooring products that come close to laminate flooring.

It has never been easier to fit a laminate floor, with manufacturers introducing quick and simple to assemble products. Even for people with limited DIY knowledge, which is another reason why so many people are choosing laminate for their homes.

All laminate flooring packages come with easy to follow instructions and laminate kits and accessories can be bought which include everything you will need to lay your floor with ease. Laminate floor does not fix directly to the sub floor which means installation is very quick and you can walk on your new flooring straight away. Many of the laminate floors on the market simply click together, eliminating the need for the adhesives of the past, making laying laminate flooring a clean operation and by avoiding glue you can dismantle the flooring which means that should you move, your laminate flooring can move with you.

The secret behind the ease of fitting laminate flooring is the simple locking system that allows each plank to simply click into place. The joins are virtually invisible and the planks can be lifted then reinstalled if you need to replace a damaged board.

When laying a laminate floor you must consider what underlay will be best to use. By using thicker underlay the floor will have more insulation and better sound dampening properties. If a laminate floor is being laid on a concrete sub floor it is advisable to lay a damp proof membrane first to prevent moisture damaging the flooring. There is a growing number of laminate floors on the market that have built in underlay however a damp proof membrane is still recommended on concrete sub bases.

Deciding on which direction to lay the laminate floor in is another consideration to make as it can be crucial to the look of the room. Most floors look best if they are laid in the direction that the sunlight enters the room whilst in hallways laying the laminate floor along the length of the space will give the best visual results.

As well as the aesthetic benefits, top quality laminate flooring is renowned for its long lasting qualities. Boards are impact and wear resistant and high heals will not cause indentations. Spills can be removed with a damp cloth and cigarettes, dropped for only a few seconds will not leave any burn mark.

Once installation is complete keeping your laminate floor looking clean and tidy is effortless. Laminated flooring can be swept or vacuumed whilst everyday marks can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. By using a doormat dirt can be kept at bay and scuff marks from pebbles and grit will be avoided keeping your laminate floor in a perfect condition.

Laminate wood flooring can be used to add a natural and stylish finish to homes, shops and office spaces. With such a wide choice of laminate flooring available you can be guaranteed to find one that suits your taste and gives your room the stunning finish you are looking for.

Remove Minor Scratches from laminate flooring

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Posted by admin | Posted in Tips & Advice | Posted on 27-07-2010

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Minor Scratches: Use the available colour co-ordinating pencils to fill in the scratch.

Seam Gaps: Colour filler touch up products is what the manufacturers recommend for gaps between the plank seams.

Chips: There are coloured burn-in sticks available for chips, deep scratches and gouges. Special electric knives are used to repair these areas.

The plank will need to be replaced if the damage is severe. There are special tools, wood splines and router bits used to replace the plank. This can be done without destroying the rest of the floor but it should be done by a professional installer.

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