Laminate flooring is still a young industry tied to its European roots.
Although major manufacturers are now producing laminate flooring in North America, the industry still looks to Europe for design trends and product innovations.
That explains why the booming North American market doesn’t have its own set of industry standards designed to help consumers understand what they’re buying.
Any laminate flooring you buy in North America will (or should) have an AC Rating based on standards devised by the European Producers of Laminate Flooring. These ratings are really a ranking system that indicates how a product compares to others like it.
The AC Ratings involve numerous quality-control tests that cover such things as a product’s resistance to abrasion, stains, burns and even furniture marks.
The AC Ratings are a numerical scale ranked from 1 to 5. AC 1 is the lowest rating, and products with this rating should only be used in light-traffic areas. Most residential laminate flooring will come with an AC 2 or 3 ranking, though the very best premium brands will have an AC 5 – strong enough to handle anything!
Keep in mind, if you’re looking at low-end laminate flooring that doesn’t have an AC rating, it probably means it failed to meet these accepted industry standards.