Laminate Flooring Glossary2017-08-17T10:38:43+00:00

Laminate Flooring Glossary

We know the terms can get confusing when you’re shopping for a laminate floor, so we have compiled a list of the top terms used when talking about laminate flooring. We want you to be knowledgeable and educated on your flooring decision.

Above Grade

A suspended floor, located above ground level, with a minimum of 18 inches of -ventilated air space below. A suspended floor is normally over a basement, but may be over a crawl space.

AC Rating/ AC Wear Layer

This durable wear layer protects against wear, stains, and fading. It offers the best resistance to scratches and indentations for your laminate floor. Learn more about the AC rating here.

Acclimatization

Refers to the flooring’s adjustment to the environment it is in, in terms of moisture and humidity. It is important to let flooring acclimate before installing.

Aluminum Oxide

A commonly used flooring finish because of its strength. Second in hardness to diamond, it serves as a protective coating for many hardwoods.

Below Grade

Below ground level; partially or completely below the surrounding ground level and in direct contact with the ground. Normally a basement or crawl space.

Backing Layer

This is the layer that binds the laminate together, and gives it stability. The backing layer is made to float over-top of the foam underlayment, making the laminate a floating floor and further differing it from a solid hardwood.

Beveled Edges

Refers to a type of edge available in  laminate flooring. Beveled edges have a “v” shaped groove that is commonly used in informal settings. This edge can also help hide an uneven subfloor or differences in plank thickness. Take a look at our beveled laminate options.

Buckling

Raised or buckled floor needs to be repaired or replaced. Damage to the flooring caused by wrong installation or moisture exposure. Find out how to prevent and fix buckled laminate floors.

Cleaning and care

The sealed surface of a laminate floor allows the floor to be cleaned quickly. Just vacuum and occasionally wipe – job done! When wiping ensure that the rag is wrung out well. This is known as wiping when “slightly damp”. Learn how to clean and maintain laminate floors here.

Cigarette burn resistance

A burning cigarette that falls onto a laminate floor and continues to burn for a few seconds does not leave the slightest mark or discoloration on the floor. The same cigarette would have a negative impact on other flooring surfaces such as carpet or vinyl.

Construction of laminate flooring

Laminates are constructed using three principal layers: the decorative layer, the core, and the backing layer. These layers are compressed together using a high-pressure process. The higher the pressure used, the more durable the laminate will be- and it will have a higher AC rating.

Core

The central layer in a laminate floor. It is made of MDF or HDF. The decorative layer + overlay (top) and stabilizing layer (bottom) are pressed onto the core.

Decor

Describes the appearance of a laminate floor’s surface. Reproduction involving photographic techniques can produce any motif and print this on the so-called decorative paper. Decors can also be printed on the core directly. The range of decors available spans authentic wood and stone reproductions to individual creative decors.

Décor Layer

The decorative layer is the surface layer of the laminate floor that gives it the beauty and elegance of an actual hardwood or tile floor. This layer is simply a high-definition photograph of a particular wood species or type of tile, sealed with an overlay for long lasting effect.

Digital Printing

Digital printing is a process in which the decor image is transferred directly from a computer to a printing machine. It is mainly used for creative decors.

Dimensional Stability

The ability of flooring to retain its original dimensions during the service life of the product.

Disposal

Leftovers from laying the laminate floor etc. can be disposed of along with normal household waste. It is best to take complete, discarded floors to a waste disposal site where they can be easily burnt as laminate flooring consists mainly of wood.

Distressed Look

A design term that describes an aged, timeworn look.

DIY / Do-It-Yourself

DIY is an acronym for “do it yourself,” referring to projects that can be installed without a professional. DIY levels range from easy to difficult. The more advanced levels require more complex tools and more DIY project experience.

DPL (Direct Pressure Laminate)

Abbreviation for Direct Pressure Laminate. This is a process in which the decorative layer and stabilizing layer are pressed onto the core.

Drum sound / footstep sound

Drum sound is the noise produced in rooms when walking on laminate flooring. A distinction is made between drum sound and footstep sound. Footstep sound is the noise produced in rooms below when the flooring is walked on. Both footstep and drum sound can be reduced or modified using special insulating underlays.

Durability

Durability describes the ability to resist scratching, dents and overall wear on the floor.

Edge Spacing/Gaps

Distance from wall which must be observed when laying a laminate floor. What is known as an expansion gap ensures that the floor can expand, e.g. if the climate changes. The floor should be at least .25″ away from the wall. The same spacing should also be observed from heating pipes, door frames, pillars etc.

Environmental

Laminate flooring is eco-friendly and reusable. It is easy to install and easy to take it into parts and reinstall it again. This makes laminate flooring a perfect reusable material. If for some reason your laminate floor is partially damaged you can “reuse” good laminate planks instead of throwing them away, or pass those materials on to others who could use them too!

Embossed-In-Register

A manufacturing process that intensifies the depth, texture, and realistic look of the floor by aligning the embossing with the printed design.

Emissions Class/Classification

A term frequently used in product information. E1 is a European emissions compliance standard with the formaldehyde limit prescribed by law, i.e. 0.1 ppm (= 0.12 mg/m3 air). CARB2 is the California Air Resource Board standard for formaldehyde emissions. The products of brand-name manufacturers are well below this limit and all laminates should be marked on the boxes with compliance. You can find manufacturer certificates on the manufacturer resource page.

Euro Standard

The Euro standard for laminate flooring EN 13329 systematically lists all the criteria which apply to a high-quality floor and the corresponding test procedures. One important element of the standard is its definition of load classes. These allow consumers to recognize a quality product and to select the right product for their application.

Expansion Gap/Spacing

Area of perimeter in a space left to account for expansion.

Floating floor

Installation method in which individual planks are glued and/or locked together, without direct attachment to the subfloor. A floor that does not need to be nailed or glued to the subfloor and can be installed over most existing floors, including concrete, ceramic, vinyl, wood, and even some indoor/outdoor carpet. Find out more about floating floors.

Floor Protectors

Variety of different types of floor coasters and felt pads to protect the floor against wear and scratches from furniture.

FSC

Forest Stewardship Council is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.

Gloss Finish

Different sheens that describe levels of gloss on the floor. There are: high gloss, semi-gloss, low gloss, and ultra-low gloss laminate floors.

Grade Level

Grade refers to the construction level relative to the ground around it. Below grade is below ground level, on grade is at ground level, and above grade is above ground level.

Grain

The visible lines in wood that show the natural growth rings of the log and /or wood type. Natural wood grains will be commonly mimicked in laminate floors.

Hand-Scraped

Also called hand-sculpted. Hardwood planks are individually scraped to create distinctive, one-of-a-kind floors. Laminate flooring with a hand-scraped texture replicates a hand sculpted wood look.

Heated Floors

Laminate flooring can, according to the manufacturers’ information, be used on subfloors containing hot water underfloor heating (radiant heating). The relatively small forward resistance enhances the efficiency of the heating.

Fire Class

Grading of a laminate floor’s flammability into what are known as flammability classes. These must be substantiated by the manufacturer. If the product information states the DIN 4102-B1 fir

Footstep Sound Impact/ Insulation

Underlays such as PE film, PU mats, corrugated cardboard or wool felt considerably reduce the footstep sound on “floating” laminate flooring. They can either be laid directly attached to the floor or loose underneath the floor. Retailers stock a wide range of products designed specially to reduce footstep sound. e class, this means “low flammability”.

HDF ( High-density Fiberboard)

Abbreviation for High Density Fiberboard. It is often used as the core in laminate floors. Given its high material density, HDF can withstand particularly high levels of use.

HPL (High Pressure Laminate)

Abbreviation for High Pressure Laminate. This is a process in which the decorative paper and overlay are first pressed with special kraft papers. It is only in the second step that this so-called high pressure laminate is glued to the core.

Installation

Installation of laminate flooring is known to be DIY friendly. The simple locking systems and floating floor system allow planks to simply click together. Laminate flooring installation guide.

Impact Resistance

Due to its hard HDF (High Density Fiberboard) core board, laminate flooring can withstand sudden and localized knocks such as those created by stiletto heels, falling objects, etc. The floor can also withstand long-term local strain caused by chairs, cupboards, table legs, bed legs, etc. This cannot be said of other laminate flooring based on chipboard or normal MDF cores.

Laminate

Laminate refers to the actual material. The term is commonly used to reference laminate flooring.

Laying

Laminate flooring is usually laid to be “floating”, i.e. the floor is not glued to the substrate, unlike the process used for say carpeting. The tongue and groove system helps the boards to click together. When laying always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Layers

Laminate flooring is a wood based product made by fusing together a few basic layers and sealing them together. Laminate flooring is made by fusing all the layers together using extremely high pressure, as well as very high temperatures – creating DPL (Direct-Pressure Laminate) or HPL (High-Pressure Laminate flooring). Pre-attached underlayment is sometimes attached to the planks after they are produced.

Load Class

Quality category according to the Euro standard EN 13329, which identifies where a laminate floor can be used. A distinction is made between “domestic” and “commercial” which are split into moderate, normal and heavy use. Symbols are used to state the classes on the product packaging.

MDF

Abbreviation for Medium Density Fiberboard. This is often used as the core for laminate floors and is lighter than High Density Fiberboard (HDF).

Micro-Bevel Edges

Similar to a bevel edge, but with a shallower “v”-shaped groove.

Overlay

Name for the topmost layer of a laminate floor (also known as top layer). The overlay consists of melamine resin which gives the floor its good durability. It protects the underlying decorative layer. Laminate floors can however also be varnished, e.g. directly printed floors.

Quality / Quality Tests

Learn more about how laminate gets their quality ratings: http://nalfa.com/assets/pdf/ANSI_NALFA_Standards_Publication_LF_01-2011.pdf

Radiant Heating

System installed under flooring to keep floors at a comfortable temperature or heated. Typically used under stone and ceramic floors, but can be used with laminate flooring. Always check the manufacturer’s guidelines when deciding on a radiant heat laminate.

Rate of Abrasion / Abrasion Class

The rate of abrasion is the figure used to state the abrasion resistance of a laminate floor. It is established in what is known as a Taber test and assigned to abrasion classes according to the Euro standard EN 13329. This is an important element of defining load classes, which identify where a laminate floor can be used. The abrasion resistance is one of many factors used to assess quality.

Reclaimed Wood

Wood salvaged from an old structure and refinished for another project, like furniture or floors. Laminate flooring with reclaimed wood texture replicates aged, time worn look and feel.

Repairs

Severely damaged flooring elements can be replaced by a specialist such that they look just like the rest of the floor. Repair kits are available for repairing small areas of damage. Find out more about repairs and maintenance.

Resistance to Cigarette Burns

A burning cigarette that falls onto a laminate floor and continues to burn for a few seconds does not leave the slightest mark or discoloration on the floor. The same cigarette would have a negative impact on other flooring surfaces such as carpet or vinyl.
Indicates how the laminate floor is affected by cigarette burns. Thanks to the pore-free surface and high temperature resistance of the melamine resin-coated overlay, lit or discarded cigarettes cannot result in any visible damage to laminate floors.

Resistance to Impact

Indicates how a laminate floor responds to impact, for example if a heavy object is dropped on it. The resistance of a floor to impact is established in a test using a falling ball.

Resistance to Scratches

Indicates how the laminate floor is affected by scratches. A floor with good resistance to scratches is considered to be one of high quality. The resistance is found by drawing a diamond point over the test area.

Scratch Resistance

You can walk on laminate flooring without fear of scratching. While the floor is not scratch proof, neither high heels nor office chairs on wheels are a problem. It is recommended to put felt pads or plastic caps under chair legs or furniture feet. You should avoid getting sand or stones on the floor at any time. This can be done by placing a mat next to the door or creating an area where people can wipe their shoes clean. Compared with wooden parquet or carpet, laminate flooring is very wear-resistant with pets. Learn how to avoid scratching for lasting floors.

Skirting Boards

Skirting boards are where the floor ends and joins the wall. A large number of different products can be bought to match the decors used. Interesting effects can be obtained by using skirting boards of a different color.

Square Edge

Square edged laminate is a straight edge plank (without bevel) that smoothly meets the next plank. This solid plank design appears seamless. When installing this flooring you will have a smooth transition to the next plank and not have a V-groove between planks.

Stabilizing Layer

Name for the impregnated layer on the underside of the core. This layer helps give the floor its dimensional stability.

Stain Resistance

Classic collection laminate flooring is also resistant to penetration by most household chemicals and organic solvents (acetone, red wine, coffee, tea, markers, etc.). What may appear to be obstinate stains such as marker, lipstick or nail varnish can be removed with a little acetone.

Structure

Laminate floors have a three-layered structure: 1. decorative paper + overlay, 2. core, 3. stabilizing layer. The decorative layer, overlay and stabilizing layer are impregnated with special environmentally-friendly resins. High pressure is applied to press them onto the core.

Subfloor

Laminate floors are high-quality wooden products which are installed overt the subfloor as a floating floor. Laminate floor should be laid only in dry living areas and they are not suitable for dump rooms and locations. You must judge whether the subfloor meets the requested by manufacturer subfloor requirements. Installation on the damaged or wrong subfloor may void your flooring warranty.

Swelling Behavior

The joins in a laid laminate floor are sensitive to the effects of moisture. Spilled water should therefore always be mopped up immediately. The edges of the boards can however be treated with a special glue when the flooring is being laid, providing effective protection from dampness. Laminate floors with specially processed cores and edge protection can be used in bathrooms and saunas with no need for concern.

Taber Test

Classic process for establishing the abrasion characteristics of a laminate floor. The process involves rotating a test object under two abrading wheels fitted with sandpaper. The speed of rotation, type and replacement of the sandpaper are specified. The number of turns up to a particular point, the IP (= initial point) determines the rate of abrasion. This is assigned to the abrasion classes.

Texture

Laminate flooring can come with many different designs and many different textures. Some people might take texture into consideration when choosing the right flooring for them. Some textures may be subtle and soft, while some may appear more visible. The most common textures you will find in laminate flooring are: Smooth/Satin, Handscraped, Brushed, Oiled Wood and Traditional Wood Textured.

Tongue and Groove

Profiles milled into the side of individual boards which allow them to be slid into one another. The tongue and grove join ensures a sturdy floor construction and protects the floor, preventing dampness from penetrating.

UV/ UV Resistance

Laminate floors are UV ray resistant and will not fade even after years of exposure to direct sunlight. This ensures that the laminate floor you install today will look the same years down the road.

Underlayment

Underlayment is essential when installing laminate flooring. Depending on the type of the floor and subfloor type, you are required to install proper underlayment. Underlayment plays multiple, important roles. One key role is so the laminate is able to float; this will also help with minor subfloor imperfections and reduce noise. The type of subfloor will determine what thickness and brand of underlayment is required.

Underfloor Heating

In most cases laminate flooring can be used with underfloor heating. The manufacturer will state whether the laminate floor can be laid on substrates housing underfloor heating systems using hot water. The low forward resistance has a positive impact on operations.

White–Wash

Characteristic of laminate flooring referring to its look and wood finish. White washed finish will replicate distressed white floors. Whitewashed flooring designs are very popular choice and a simple way to bring the coastal feel into your space. Whitewashed floors will look fabulous not only in coastal settings and will look well paired with wicker or woven furniture bringing relaxed look to every room.

VOC

VOC is the abbreviation for volatile organic compounds. These include for example alkanes/alkenes, aromatic compounds, terpenes, esters, aldehydes, ketones and halogenated hydrocarbons

Still have questions on laminate flooring? Our flooring experts are happy to answer your questions and find the perfect floor for your needs.

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