AC4, AC5, or AC6? Which Laminate Flooring to Choose
Often, understanding the quality of laminate flooring can be confusing, as it depends on various elements and terms that may be incomprehensible. Here we explain in detail what you should take into account when choosing your new laminate flooring.
What are laminate floors?
Firstly, laminate flooring is derived from wood, and not a plastic product, as many people still believe. Therefore, they have a very natural appearance, while being more resistant to scratches, abrasion from foot traffic, and impacts.
However, their quality depends on many factors: density, resistance to abrasion, water, stains, falling objects, changes in temperature, and the type of installation.
At this point, you are likely wondering how you can know if a floor has all these qualities. In that case, we invite you to remember this formula: AC + HDF + Thickness + Surface Technologies + Click Quality.
If all these characteristics are present in the laminate flooring or in the engineered wood floating floors that you have chosen (to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the use you are going to give it) the boards will have a long durability.
Next, we detail what the terms of the formula consist of:
Determines the abrasion resistance, to surface wear; and is complemented by the ICE grade, which refers to impact resistance (falling objects). Based on its AC and ICE level, we will know how the surface will look over the years since each one indicates the maximum amount of use:
ICE 31 /AC3: Light resistance for the home environment. ICE 32 /AC4: Moderate resistance for the home environment and low for the commercial environment. ICE 33/AC5: Intense resistance for the home environment and medium for the commercial environment. ICE 42/AC6: Maximum resistance for home environment, medium for commercial and industrial. Maximum quality in wear resistance and impact resistance.
Refers to the density with which the wood chips that make up the laminate boards have been compacted. High-density fiberboard (HDF) gives consistency to the decking for outdoor or indoor use, making it much more resistant to various humidity and temperature conditions.
The thicker the board, the better it will withstand torsions, cleaning products, foot traffic, and all the aspects that can cause wear and tear on the board. There are different millimeters of boards, ranging from 7 mm to 12 mm, with the latter being the most resistant to daily cleaning and foot traffic. It's the same as if you're going to buy rubber flooring, the thicker it is, the more resistant it is.
The upper layer of the floors, also known as the overlay, can integrate innovative solutions that make them more resistant to scratches, stains, and the discoloration produced by sunlight, in addition to faithfully reproducing the texture and structure of natural woods, or not. Brands like Arquifloor, Quick-Step, TerHürne, Kronopol, or Faus, among others, possess these technologies.
The anchoring system between the boards must be reliable, secure, and firm to properly support the traction exerted with each step. The Uniclic system, by Quick-Step, is the most famous due to its excellent quality.
AC4, AC5, or AC6? Benefits of Choosing the Right Laminate Flooring
Depending on the type of laminate flooring, we can mention some of its most relevant advantages.
Advantages of AC3 Floors
The AC3 floor offers the advantage of a lower cost compared to other options. It is an economical type of surface that works well in homes with low foot traffic or in a summer house, as it is designed to withstand moderate use.
Advantages of AC4 Floors
Based on the price-quality ratio, these are the most commonly used types of laminate flooring; since they offer a mid-range price with a quality capable of withstanding moderate to intense traffic in homes. They can also be used in businesses with moderate to low traffic.
Advantages of AC5 Floors
AC5 floors are in high demand. Although they are a category above AC4 flooring, they do not represent a significant difference in terms of lifespan. The advantage they have is that they are more resistant in homes with children and pets. They are more recommended for areas with higher traffic, whether residential or commercial.
Advantages of AC6 Floors
According to the classification, AC6 floors are the most resistant and durable. They are priced higher than the other options, which is not necessary to invest in for homes; but for high-traffic commercial spaces, such as hotels, restaurants, or stores, it is the best alternative.
Maintenance and Care According to the Type of Floor
For AC3 type floors, the maintenance and basic care are very similar. Cleaning is done with a damp cloth and a neutral detergent so as not to damage the surface. In the case of AC4, you can also use a special cleaner for laminate floors.
As for AC5 and AC6, their design allows them to be more resistant and durable, even with intense use, so they do not require extra or special care. Regular cleaning with a dampened cloth and neutral soap will be enough to keep it in good condition. Once a month, this can be complemented with the use of a special product for laminate floors.
Cost and Value for Money of Laminate Floors
The price of laminate floors depends on various factors such as type, thickness, brand, and design. But if we compare them in terms of quality and price, this information can be useful when choosing the right one for you.
According to the cost-quality ratio, the cheapest laminate floors with lower resistance are the AC3, with prices ranging between 10 and 20 euros per square meter. AC4 offers a better value for money, as they are more durable than AC3, and their price is better than the higher categories, between 11 and 32 euros.
In contrast, AC5 and AC6 laminate floors are more resistant and of higher quality, but the prices are higher. AC5 can cost between 10 and 35 euros per square meter, and AC6 between 27 and 50 euros.
All prices depend on whether only the material is purchased, or if the product installation is also included.
Recommendations for Choosing Laminate Flooring According to the Type of Space
When choosing your new floor, you must consider the use you will give to that surface. It is not the same as choosing a floor for a quiet environment where two adults will live as for a large family with children and pets. Each will have a completely different intensity of use and therefore, the floor should also be different.
For the first family, an 8 mm thick AC4 floor could be perfectly chosen, on the other hand, for the large family, it would be advisable to select at least an 8 mm thick AC5 resistance floor, with surface technologies that make it resistant to moisture. Since it will be exposed to scratches, toys, liquid spills, foot traffic, etc.
Among the best brands of laminate flooring are Quick-Step, Meister, Faus, or Berry Alloc, the floors of all these companies incorporate the qualities we have mentioned and have ranges that adapt to each need.
With this comparison between AC4, AC5, or AC6, you will have a better idea to choose the laminate flooring for your home or business.