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Which AC rating for laminate floors is the best?

Apart from appearance, durability is the factor people look for in their floorings. This is why each type of flooring has its specifications that show how durable it is. Different floors have different specifications and you need to look at one or more factors before deciding on the floor. The durability of a laminate floor is decided by its AC rating which will help you to understand its suitability in your house application.

AC rating for laminate floors

What makes HDF laminate flooring durable?

Nevertheless, when it comes to durability, no one size or type fits every room. In the kitchen or bathroom, flooring that might be deemed sturdy may not last a year. Similarly, there is no need to spend money on flooring that would guard you against excessive use if you don't have any pets or high traffic movement.

We might think that the thicker the laminate board, the better the quality. But for HDF laminate flooring, this is not the case. The quality or strength of laminate flooring is based on its wear layer. So let us understand what it is.

What is an AC wear layer?

A wear layer is one of the four layers from which laminate flooring is made. The thickness of the wear layer defines the stability of laminate flooring. And this thickness of the wear layer is shown by its “AC Rating”. The Abrasion Criteria, sometimes known as the "AC" grade, is a globally accepted system for categorising laminate flooring durability. Let us understand in detail.

What is an AC rating?

The standard method or specification for assessing the laminate floor's durability is called the AC rating. Laminate flooring is rated using this AC Rating. Every laminate floor manufacturer has to test their product using this method and give them an AC rating accordingly. This “Abrasion Coefficient” is determined by performing the tests that replicate real-life scenarios.

The resistance to the following things is measured for AC ratings:

  • Traffic
  • Moving objects like heavy furniture
  • Heat
  • Impact
  • Moisture
  • Abrasion
  • Stains

Each laminate is put through a series of these tests conducted by a neutral third party. Each exam has a rating of 1-5, and the lowest grade the laminate obtains determines the overall score of 1-6. E.g., if the laminate flooring has obtained a score of 3 in each test, but has got a score of 2 in let’s say traffic test, then that laminate will be rated as AC2.

An AC rating cannot be given to a floor that fails any aspect of the test. The laminate flooring with an AC rating is regarded as good quality flooring. Higher AC ratings indicate a higher quality of laminate flooring.

What are the different types of AC ratings?

The method of deciding the quality of the laminate floor includes giving it a rating between AC 1 and 6, with 6 being the most durable.

laminate floor AC Rating

1. AC1 (Moderate residential):

Laminate floors with an AC1 rating are intended for homes with less traffic. Although this laminate can help you save money, it should only be utilised in low-traffic areas. Only modest household uses, such as a bedroom, closet, dining room, or storage room, are appropriate for laminate floors with this classification.

2. AC2 (General residential):

Although laminate with an AC2 rating may withstand some activity compared to AC1-rated laminate flooring, it should not be utilised in high-traffic areas. This category is appropriate for regular residential uses, such as moderately trafficked living rooms, dining rooms, or bedrooms.

3. AC3 (Heavy Residential):

Laminate flooring with an AC3 rating is not only cost-effective but also resilient enough to withstand everyday household traffic. It is suitable for all residential uses, including those in children's rooms, corridors, stairs, living rooms, etc.

4. AC4 ( General Commercial):

AC4-rated laminate floors can be used in all residential applications and some commercial applications like offices, boutiques, general stores, and more.

5. AC5 (Heavy Commercial):

AC5 is the highest durability rated laminate flooring specially designed for heavy traffic areas such as cafes, malls, restaurants, large corporates, departmental stores, etc.

6. AC6:

As not many laminate floors match this standard, this is unusual to a certain extent, but it covers laminate flooring for very extreme commercial purposes, such as retail buildings, public spaces, offices, etc.

Which AC rating is best for your laminate floor?

Do not assume that a laminate floor will survive longer just because it is thicker. By comparing its AC ratings to the requirements of your laminate flooring, you can choose the best laminate for the job depending on its intended usage. If you own a home, laminate with a grade of 1-3 is what you need. For difficult household installations or commercial usage, AC5-6 can be used.

HDF laminate flooring with an AC3 rating is the best recommended for homeowners as it will be within your budget and will provide the durability you need. If you have pets or children and want a step further, go for AC4. But there is no need for AC5 or AC6 in-house usage as they are a bit costly and are specially designed for commercial use in high-traffic areas. The higher-rated laminates will have a rough texture which can hurt your foot if used in houses.