How is Laminate Flooring Made?
With brilliant color depth and true-to-life patterns, today’s laminate is becoming a fast favorite of homeowners and designers alike. If you’ve been shopping for laminate flooring in Frisco, you may have taken a look at some samples and wondered how manufacturers put it all together. From start to finish, laminate flooring is engineered for great looks, easy maintenance and the perfect durability for busy families.
The Anatomy of a Laminate Plank
Every laminate plank is made up for four layers.
- The Top: A durable, protective sheet, usually made from melamine resin and aluminum oxide, that protects the floor from surface damage
- The Image: The decorate pattern layer made from high resolution photos printed on thick paper
- The Core: The “body” layer made from dense fiberboard or particle board, oftentimes with added strengthening compounds like melamine mixed in
- The Backing: A balancing layer of melamine that gives the board structure and moisture-resistance
Step 1: The Printing
Quality laminate begins with the printing process. The newest laminate uses high-resolution photography of hardwood, stone and tile to achieve its extraordinary realism. A high-grade printer is used to get the finest amount of detail possible.
To make the flooring more realistic and add visual interest, different variations of each plank or tile is used in every batch of flooring. Each variation is called a “screen.” The more screens are used, the more unique and realistic the installed flooring will look.
Step 2: Preparing the Stack
Most manufacturers automate some or all portions of the stacking process for incredible precision. Cameras and digital calibrating equipment keep every piece of the stack in perfect alignment.
The printed sheets are cleaned and coated with adhesives. The order from there depends on the manufacturer, but the stacks are often assembled from the bottom up. The stacked sheets are sent straight from assembly to the press.
Step 3: The Press
Pressing uses enormous, hydraulic rams and carefully set curing times to turn a glued stack into a sturdy, cohesive product. Temperatures in the press can reach up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and the pressure can get up to 600 pounds per square inch in just 30 seconds. By comparison, the Earth’s gravity exerts a force of just 14.7 pounds per square inch.
Some laminate has natural-looking textures pressed into the surface. This is done with special, texturized plates.
Step 4: Cooling and Resting
The pressed sheets are cooled in rows like files in a filing cabinet. They’re inspected for obvious imperfections, then stacked and left to rest. The resting time lets them acclimate to normal room conditions and improves the stability and durability of the final product.
Step 5: Forming Planks
After acclimation, it’s off to the milling machine to be cut into tiles or planks. The freshly cut planks are then sent to the profiling saw. This is the saw that cuts the characteristic tongue-and-groove shape into the side of the boards that make them easy to install later on. The saw is laser-guided for accuracy.
Step 6: Inspection and Packaging
Inspection is rigorous for a batch of boards. They have to match up to the image, color, texture, durability, finish, size and board interlocking standards necessary for their line. If they pass muster, they can be sent off for packaging and distribution.
How Are Laminate Floors Rated?
By the time you see that laminate flooring in our Frisco store, you might notice a few certifications and ratings added to the side of the box. AC rating is one of the most important numbers. AC ratings measure the durability and suitability of any given laminate for different applications. If you’re looking to use laminate in different rooms, it can pay to match the right rating to the right room.
- AC1, Modest Residential: Best for closets and bedrooms
- AC2, General Residential: Best for living and dining rooms
- AC3, Heavy Residential: All-purpose residential application
- AC4, General Commercial: Best for small stores and coffee shops
- AC5, Heavy Commercial: Best for department stores and public buildings
What About Indoor Air Quality
Due to the glues used in the fiberboard core of the planks, some homeowners are concerned about VOC off-gasing from laminate. If you’re concerned but still want laminate flooring in your Frisco home, there are plenty of options. Peek’s offers laminate that is TSCA Title VI-compliant, an EPA guideline regarding safe formaldehyde levels. You can also look for brands that offer their own low-VOC certifications.
The manufacturing process makes laminate tough, gorgeous and a great choice for home flooring. If you’d like to just how amazing today’s laminate looks, come and see us at Peek’s Floor Co. We carry a wide selection of laminate flooring at our Frisco showroom.