AC ratings are summarized below:
- AC1 – Designed for lighter traffic areas like the bedroom
- AC2 – Suitable for living rooms or dining rooms
- AC3 – Best for the highest traffic residential areas and suitable for commercial use
- AC4 – More durable and designed for use in office and commercial settings
- AC5 – The most durable rating, for floors in public buildings and department stores
Floors should be installed using a wall as a guide, but before you start, you need to make sure the walls themselves are straight. If you begin your project without a straight wall, you will quickly run into problems. Similarly, before you begin your project, find out which way the light is shining through your windows. You want the floors to be aligned parallel with the light source for the best aesthetic result. Most manufacturers will recommend that you complete a few rows and let them sit for an hour before completing your project, just to check that everything is aligned correctly.
Most modern laminate floor is referred to as “floating,” meaning that you will not be gluing it to the subfloor. However, some home technicians recommend adding glue between each floor plank. This adds to the durability and also offers protection from moisture. It will definitely add work to your project, but in most cases, if you are willing to put the effort into gluing each plank, your investment will pay off, adding longevity to your floor. It’s best to consult with your hardware store about whether gluing is the best option for the floor you’ve chosen.
If you plan to use the floor in a bathroom or other moisture prone area, glue will most likely be recommended. This will discourage moisture from settling in the middle of the planks, causing them to swell and buckle.
Also, it should be noted that in many cases, flooring planks should be glued to the subfloor if they are being installed on stairs.
Most likely you will need to cut your planks to the size of your room. Depending on the type of saw you use, you may need to place the finished side up or down. It’s best to practice sawing on some extra planks before you start your project, to make sure you feel comfortable and find out which method is best for your flooring. A common complaint among first-time installers is that planks chip upon installation. Practicing with some extra flooring will also allow you to practice, minimizing any chipping.
Thickness of the plank is not the only factor in determining durability. The density of the plank core is a better gauge as to its ability to withstand dents or rips. Resistance to scratches and scuff is determined by the finish on the outside, or “wear” layer. Urethane is a common finishing agent and highly durable. By looking at both the core and the wear layer, you can determine the overall durability of your potential laminate choice.