The Abrasion Rating System, or AC Rating, was developed by the European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF) and used
worldwide as a tool to measure the strength and durability of laminate floor types. Laminate's strength is determined by its
resistance to factors such as: moisture, standing liquid, cigarette burns, abrasion, impact and stains. Depending on its
results, the laminate floor is then placed in one of the 5 following categories:
- AC1 Moderate Residential: This type of laminate flooring is best for residential spaces with light
traffic such as bedrooms or closets.
- AC2 General Residential: AC2 laminate floors suit spaces like living rooms and dining rooms which see
medium levels of traffic.
- AC3 Heavy Residential/Moderate Commercial : Suitable for all rooms in the house and commercial spaces
receiving light traffic. (Few residential spaces will require laminate floors with an AC rating higher than 3). AC3 is the
most common rating of laminate flooring.
- AC4 General Commercial: Suitable for all rooms in the house and commercial areas with heavier traffic.
- AC5 Heavy Commercial: Generally only necessary for high–traffic spaces like public buildings or
Over time, extreme humidity, dryness and/or temperature exposure can cause your laminate floors to expand and contract.
Fortunately, there are ways in which you can reduce these harmful environmental effects and increase the longevity of your
floor. Use the following tips as a guide when determining what precautions you may need to take.
Humidity and Temperature
While laminate flooring can handle higher and lower extremes of humidity better than other types of flooring (such as
hardwood and bamboo), it's made from wood fiber and can still suffer damage. Try to avoid installing laminate in rooms that
receive high levels of humidity; such as an unventilated bathroom that's frequently used for long showers.
Recommendation: To prevent damage to laminate flooring caused by extreme dryness or
humidity levels, use a humidifier (for low humidity or dry climates) or a dehumidifier (for high humidity) to reduce
expanding. How they work: a humidifier releases moisture into the air, while a dehumidifier absorbs and traps moisture from
Some laminate floors come with a surface wear layer designed to prevent fading from sunlight
exposure. Laminate floors that do not come with this fade–protective coat can fade and discolor from sun exposure.
Recommendations: Look for laminate with a surface wear layer that minimizes sunlight
damage, called UV protection. Some manufacturers also offer floor warranties that cover fading. Reduce sunlight exposure in
your home by covering windows with curtains, blinds and external solar screens.
Where some laminate floors are made to only handle moderate residential traffic, others are designed for commercial
use and can withstand excessive wear and tear. The amount of traffic your laminate floors can handle depends on how it rates
according to the Abrasion Rating System (AC rating). All manufacturers use this rating system to denote the durability level
of their laminate floors.
Recommendation: For an extremely durable laminate floor, choose floors with an AC3
rating or higher. These types are designed to withstand heavy levels of traffic.
Laminate flooring works well in most household areas and can accommodate many lifestyle needs. Before running out to
purchase materials for your laminate flooring project, read our recommendations for laminate in different rooms in your home.
Living Room/ Bedroom/ Office/ Den
Some types of laminate floors are tough enough to stand up to a great deal of residential traffic, making them ideal
for living rooms or dens.
Recommendation: Make sure that the AC rating of your laminate floors match the level of
traffic you expect in that area. (Keep in mind that higher AC ratings denote stronger laminate types). Also, note that High
Pressure Laminate (HPL) is more durable than Direct Pressure Laminate (DPL). HPL is comprised of 5 or more laminate layers
and can withstand a higher level of traffic than DPL – which only consists of 4 layers. To learn more about the
differences of HPL and DPL, refer to our Types of Laminate section.
Wet Area Rooms
The resiliency of most laminate floors makes them a good choice for kitchens; however caution still must be taken to
ensure floor's performance. Laminate flooring is made using wood materials, and just as with other wood floor types,
standing water can cause damage. This is one reason why many manufacturers do not recommend laminate installation for
Recommendation: When installing laminate in kitchens and bathrooms, make sure that caulk
(compound used to seal joints and cracks) is applied around areas that may suffer leaking water. This includes the entire
perimeter of the room and every place where joints are glued together. Some manufacturers do not honor warranties when
laminate is installed in the kitchen or bathroom – so make sure that you refer to the manufacturer's guidelines or
speak to a flooring professional prior to purchase.
Before purchasing laminate flooring for your home, many factors should be considered. Do you have pets? Do you have
children? Do you have special needs? While it's important to choose a floor which accentuates the natural charm of your
home, it's just as, if not more important to choose flooring which best compliments your lifestyle. Read the following
section to learn how laminate floor accommodates different needs.
Pets: Laminate holds up well to most pet use. However larger pets with claws and nails can scratch
the surface on some types of laminate. Floor damage incurred by pets is not covered under warranty, so preventative measures
Recommendation: One way to minimize surface scratches is by keeping pet nails trimmed.
You can also lay down area rugs in popular pet areas, such as doorways, hallways, and living room. Some manufacturers and
local flooring retailers have color–coordinated pencils you can use to fill in scratches that are already in the
Laminate flooring is designed to handle wear and tear better than other wood types (such as hardwood and bamboo),
making it a good choice for children. The more cost–effective option, Direct Pressure Laminate (DPL), is made up of 4
different layers: backing, core, and decorative. The core is comprised of a high density fiberboard (HDF) which allows the
floor to handle the shock of localized impacts (such as dropped objects and toys) without denting. Laminate also doesn't
stain easily – making it an ideal surface for kids who are prone to spills.
Recommendation: Tough spots – such as oil, crayon, paint and ink – can be
removed with acetone (nail polish remover) and a clean cloth. Always try to clean an inconspicuous area first to be assured
that the cleaner will not damage for the laminate floor. Minimize markings and dirt spots by placing rugs in areas where
children most commonly play. (Make sure that any rugs and mats you use are non–slip to prevent accidents). For more
active kids, choose a laminate floor with a high AC rating (AC3 and up) to reduce the risk of damage.
The smooth hard surface of laminate has a tendency to amplify indoor sound. In order to reduce the level of noise in
your home, consider installing an underlayment. Underlayments are placed between the sub–floor and laminate surface,
and certain types have sound deadening properties that can even minimize overhead noise (when installing upstairs). There
are two types of ratings that measure the insulation properties of certain materials: (1) Impact Insulation Class (IIC) which
measures the response of material upon contact with footsteps and dropped objects, and (2) Sound Transmission Class (STC)
that measures a material's response to airborne noise such as music. When purchasing an underlayment for sound, look for
either of these ratings.
Recommendation: Solid cork and standard foam underlayments are popular for their density
and resiliency. You can also purchase laminate flooring with an underlayment already attached. This option can reduce the
time and cost for overall installation.
Wheelchair floor damage can be both inconvenient and costly to fix. If you or someone in your household uses a
wheelchair, it's important to choose a suitable floor surface. Laminate floor types (AC3 and up) are ideal for wheelchair and
walker users because they're more durable and resilient.
Recommendation: Choose a smooth surface over embossed and a High Pressure Laminate (HPL)
with an AC rating of 3 or higher. For more flooring options, check out our article on Wheelchair Floor Surfaces.
Keep your laminate floors looking new by following by following these simple directions.
- DO use floor cleaners recommended by the manufacturer or flooring professional.
- DO follow the directions closely on all laminate floor cleaning products.
- DO purchase a floor–cleaning kit specific to your floor's finish.
- DO sweep, vacuum, and dust your floor.
- DO wipe up spills immediately after they occur.
- DO use ice and a plastic scraper to remove wax or gum.
- DO shake area rugs outside and then vacuum to remove gathered dirt and debris.
- DO place door mats at entry ways to minimize the amount of dirt tracked onto the floors.
- DO put rubber floor protectors underneath chair legs, TV stands, and other furniture.
- DO use non–slip mats in high traffic areas and potentially wet areas.
- DO remove oil, ink and other tough spots with acetone (nail polish remover) and a clean cloth.
- DON'T use scouring powder or abrasive and chlorinated cleaners.
- DON'T use a buffing or polishing machine.
- DON'T use a vacuum with a beater bar.
- DON'T wax your laminate floors.
- DON'T let dirt, grime and sand build up.
- DON'T polish, lacquer, or wax your laminate floors.
- DON'T use soap, oil, or water–based detergents as this could cause your laminate floors to warp
(and may even void your warranty).
NOTE: beater bars: hard bar located on the revolving brush roll which helps push the roll
away from the ground in a quick "beating" motion.
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