For the first time laminate appeared in Europe and gained a great popularity in many houses of a private and state sector.
As laminate imitates wood, stone, cork and other patterns, it became a real alternative for parquet. It was discovered to be highly resistant and impact-proof. Today laminate cost turns out to be much cheaper than floor made out of natural materials. Note that its appearance reproduces pattern, colour and structure of natural materials.
To make a right choice of laminated floors you should know its main characteristics – type of floor needed for a certain place and general data on materials, it is produced out of.
Manufacture and raw materials used by many companies may differ, but normally a laminated panel consists of four layers minimum: a bearing base (board), covered by a decorative layer (pattern), protective layer and stabilizing layer. A manufacturer can apply additional layers.
The main board is usually made out of wallboard materials. There are two types of boards: MDF (middle density fibreboard) of average density (650 – 850 kg/cub.m) and HDM (high density fibreboard) of high density (more than 850kg/cub.m). High density means better mechanical solidity of a laminate panel. Thickness of a base varies from 6 to 10 mm. Stabilizing layer makes panels firmer and prevents them from deformation under the influence of climate change in a premise. It is made of a paper steeped with melamine resin and plastic. The thickness is 0.1-0.2 mm.
Decorative layer is wood-, stone-like etc. cellulose, elaborated with melamine resin.
Protective layer is a solid polymeric covering. It has a function of surface protection from damage. The layer can be also strengthened by adding particles of aluminium dioxide or corundum. Laminate layers are joined together by pressure. Pressure technology is of two kinds: simultaneous and progressive.
Depending on manufacture technology and limits set by a manufacturer, laminate flooring meant for a living and commercial sector has different pressure resistance. To determine laminate durability and technical characteristics for a certain place of installation laminate you should know its classification.
Some producing companies used Taber test to identify their production at the beginning of laminate manufacture. It was to determine durability of laminate upper layer, being the most important factor for customers. A high durability index means solidity of an upper layer.
If a manufacturer used extra hardening layers with additions of solid particles, it made laminate more expensive. Such kind of laminate was recommended for business premises with average and intensive tension. More simple variants were presupposed for living spaces.
Today before laminate acquires an accordance mark, it is thoroughly tested. We should mention that apart from Taber test there are about 18 tests.
Additionally to durability class laminate has also utilization class, acquired after 18 tests in accordance with EN 685 norm.
These utilization classes form certain groups: 21, 22, 23 – for living space; 31, 32, 33 – business premises. Results of Taber test are not usually pointed out in technical documentation. Obligatory information provided by manufacturer is durability and utilization classes.