You need the special commercial-grade laminate flooring if you want your business establishments to look chic and stylish without compromising the professional flair.
Laminate floor is gaining popularity over the last few years because of their good features.
You have to admit that laminate floor is a great alternative to other costly floors, such as tiles and also hardwood. But you also need to remember that laminate floor is different.
Some are designed for residential use only, while some may be installed on commercial setting.
We are going to dig deeper and have an in-depth discussion about the latter one.
Residential vs Commercial Grade (Laminate) Floors
A lot of homeowners love the facts that the laminate floors are greatly versatile and durable.
The floor is made from a (decorative) plastic laminate that is bonded to a sturdy core material and then covered with a strong protective wear layer.
In the past, laminate floor looked ugly, cheap, and lame. It looked crappy and cheesy, able to protect the floor well but not so visually appealing.
However, years have passed by, and laminate floor has undergone serious improvements and developments.
Today’s laminate floor looks absolutely stunning and elegant. It can even imitate the look of natural elements as well as other materials, such as ceramic, stone, hardwood, and even metal.
Another likable fact about the floor is the easy installation. That’s why laminate floor is a favorite floor for DIYers or homeowners with a budget.
Because of these great features, laminate floor is also popular among business owners.
They are thinking about installing the floors in commercial settings, such as office or retail stores.
But why is it important to choose the commercial-grade laminate flooring?
You need to remember that laminate floor comes in different quality. Those made for residential use have the standard general thickness.
But let’s not forget that commercial environments experience busier and higher foot traffic (much more than the residential traffic); thus, leading to the importance of commercial-grade quality.
In most cases, it is also known as high-traffic laminate floor.
If you choose general residential laminate floor for commercial settings, then don’t be too surprised if the floor start showing signs of wear and damage in a short period of time.
Laminate floor, even the commercial-grade type, isn’t as sturdy as other materials (like stone or ceramic).
However, this kind of laminate floor would be perfect for business owners on the budgets.
They can get high quality look with low cost and also low (and easy) maintenance, suitable for moderate to busy traffic spots.
However, it is crucial to note that different laminate floor would be coming with different rating and properties.
You should also understand that not all commercial-grade floors would be perfect for residential or even commercial installation. Make sure that you really understand the options.
Laminate Flooring Structure
In general, laminate floor has 4 layers. Around 85% of the material (which means that it is the majority) is a high-density and packed fiberboard filler.
The filler itself may consist of recycled materials (up to a certain percentage). And then, below this construction, there will be a balancing layer (or the backing) that will make a direct contact with the subfloor or the underlayment.
The top side of the filler middle consists of a print layer (which is usually decorative in style). This print layer is the one providing the floor’s surface appearance.
This is the part that can be printed in styles or designs generally to imitate natural elements like the stone or hardwood.
On top of the print layer, you can find a clear (plastic) laminate layer with heat fuse system. This is meant to provide resistant quality.
The floor should be impervious to liquid or dirt penetration because of this clear plastic layer. Its another function is to protect the laminate core and the decorative layer.
The wear layer has different quality and thickness which plays an important role in differentiating residential products from commercial grade types.
Laminate Floor Origin
If you read commercial-grade laminate flooring, you’d know that laminate floor started being used in Scandinavia very early 1980s. It was a part of an offshoot attempt of melamine (laminate) countertops.
Of course, the floor reinforced laminate would be ten times more solid and stronger than the laminate material for the countertops.
Laminate Flooring’s Different Grades
Laminate floor has this so called AC rating. It is short of Abrasion Criteria, indicating product’s durability levels as well as its performance against burns, stains, impact, and abrasion.
Floor’s rating system would rank the products from AC1 scale to AC5. Of course, different scale would lead to different functions and uses.
The ratings are:
- AC1 is perfect for bedrooms and other areas with low foot traffic. This is only suitable for residential use. Commercial use isn’t advisable
- AC2 is still for residential use, for areas with medium foot traffic such as dining rooms or living rooms. It is still not advisable for commercial environment
- AC3 is perfect for all residential conditions, especially household with busier and higher foot traffic. This one has better durability than the other two. It can even be used in commercial settings with light foot traffic
- AC4 is for commercial environment but with light to moderate foot traffic. It has abrasive wear layer and it is pretty tough. But it won’t be suitable for residential setting as it will make the house uncomfortable
- AC5 is the perfect commercial-grade laminate flooring. It is designed for commercial use, especially to deal against moderate to high foot traffic. This floor can be installed in shopping centers, department stores, and offices and they can handle everyday beat quite well. This type of floor would be too abrasive for residential setting.
Caring for Commercial-Grade Floor
Laminate floor in general is easy to maintain, clean, and care. After all, this is one of the best features about the floor.
However, you should remember about certain characteristics of commercial-grade (laminate) flooring:
- The surface has stronger and tougher wear layer. Thanks to it, it is more resistant to penetration and scratching compared to the residential type
- The wear layer would also eliminate discoloration or yellowing because of extensive exposure to UV light. It is okay to use this floor in public areas or areas close to the windows
- Most of these commercial-grade laminate flooring warranties have more clauses (at least when compared to the residential warranties) that would outline errors, environments, and practices that may void those warranties.
Options for Installation and Design Commercial-Grade Laminate
As it was mentioned before, today’s laminate floor comes with various attractive designs.
In some high-end brands, you may not be able to differentiate laminate floor from real stone or hardwood. Laminate floor can even imitate the look of cork or bamboo.
But be advised that the options of styles and designs for commercial-grade laminate flooring may be more limited than those for residential settings.
Laminate floor isn’t exactly an eco-friendly floor, because of the chemical contents and how the floor is manufactured (and recycled).
But in some cases, the floor would deliver ‘green’ effect to get Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credits. It helps the manufacturer to be ecologically conscious and aware.
Some brands may produce the floor by including a certain percentage recycled stuff. It is also common that the click-and-lock installation will eliminate dangerous adhesives that emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC).
If you are concerned about your health concern and the safety of your family, then you should focus on rating info when buying for the floor.
Laminate floor containing lower formaldehyde level will have CARB P2, E0, or E1 label.
Choosing the Right Commercial-Grade Laminate Floor Tips
When you want to buy commercial-grade laminate flooring, there are some helpful tips that you can try.
For a starter, you are free to choose whatever colors, patterns, or designs that you want.
Although the options can be limited than those for residential use, there are still plenty of available choices that you can pick.
Don’t forget to match those designs with your preferred theme or interior décor. Don’t forget about the thickness of the floor.
Of course, AC rating is more important but it doesn’t mean that you should neglect the thickness.
After all, there are several perks of choosing thicker planks. Thicker boards would be easy to install and you may be able to reduce the installation cost.
Thicker floor isn’t only comfortable to walk or stand on, but they have better sound absorption. This is definitely perfect for busy restaurants or shared (office) spaces.
This type has various locking mechanism. Glueless click floor is super easy to install. Glued type may be stronger, but it takes more time and money for the installation.
There is also the pre-glued floor. This one has already attached glue (that is resistant to moisture) and also underlayment.
For this one, you won’t have to install any underlayment anymore. If you are an owner of a small (or medium) business, this locking mechanism is important.
In most cases, you want to save money by doing your own renovation. Those are some of the basic facts about the floor for commercial setting.
You can now have a better decision about commercial-grade laminate flooring and how to choose the right one.