Laminate flooring is an enormously popular flooring choice for home installation, thanks to its durability and versatility. Made from a layer of decorative plastic laminate bonded to a core material and covered with a protective wear layer, laminate flooring can be made to look like a wide variety of materials, including hardwoods, stone, ceramic tile, and even metal.
The same virtues that make laminate flooring popular in homes make it a popular choice for commercial applications, such as retail stores and client-oriented business offices. But since these locations may experience higher foot traffic, the types of laminate flooring used in these locations is a different form, often known as “commercial-grade,” or “high-traffic” laminate flooring. While it is not as sturdy as some other flooring materials, such as ceramic tile, this form of laminate is an excellent choice for businesses seeking a low-cost, low-maintenance flooring for moderate-traffic locations.
However, it is important to understand the properties and the rating of a laminate material before making a final decision.
The Structure Of Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring of all types generally consists of four layers. The majority of the material (about 85 percent) is a high-density fiberboard filler, which sometimes consists of a significant percentage of recycled materials. Below this is a backing, or balancing layer, which comes in direct contact with the underlayment or subfloor.
On top of the filler middle is a decorative print layer that provides the surface appearance of the floor. It can take a variety of appearances depending on what material the flooring is trying to mimic. It can be printed to look like nearly anything, hardwood, stone, or even just random patterns. Above this is a heat-fused plastic laminate layer from which the material takes its name from. This wear layer is clear so the decorative surface can be seen, but it is also impervious to penetration by dirt or liquids, protecting the decorative layer and core of the laminate. It is mostly the thickness and quality of this wear layer that makes for the differences between commercial-grade and residential flooring products.