When shopping for laminate flooring, always talk about the AC rating. However, it is not always understood what they mean. And as in many decisions, we can only think that the older it is, the better. But in AC, the classification of laminate flooring is not the best criterion.
What is the AC rating of laminate flooring?
You first need to know that quality laminate flooring is AC-rated. So what does Abrasion Criteria mean, and is it called AC by its acronym in English? Low-quality floors do not get to be classified. For this reason, even if it is classified as AC1, you are buying a quality floor.
The difference between one and the other makes them suitable for different spaces. The abrasion criterion measures resistance to wear. And its levels range from 1 to 6. Or better say, from AC1 to AC6. In this article, we detail the uses and characteristics of each classification, in addition to showing other complementary criteria to AC. So that when they talk to you about AC, you understand perfectly what they are talking about.
How is the AC rating of laminate flooring determined?
As we have already said, quality laminate floors have an AC classification. This means that all tests have passed. This series of tests is called the “t Taber abrasion test”. It includes tests to measure impact resistance and its resistance to scratches, stains, humidity, heat and abrasion.
The AC rating is given only in cases where the floor has passed all tests. Therefore, you do not receive a grade if you miss at least one. In other words, the result is “not classified”, indicating that it does not meet the required quality criteria.
This classification is organized into six levels, AC1 to AC6. And within these levels are two categories: residential floors and commercial floors. Each group means that it withstands more traffic. Therefore, there are also traffic levels which are:
- moderate or light
- General or heavy
- High or intense.
Within this classification, the thickness of the piece can also influence it. For example, it can be said that the thicker the soil, the higher the resistance and, therefore, the higher the AC rating. Now, we will tell you what these classifications are.
AC Ratings for Laminate Flooring
The AC classification of laminate flooring is given to floors that pass tests related to durability, wear resistance, flammability, and scratch and stain resistance. For a flat to be classified, it must pass all the tests.
- AC1: Ideal for residential spaces with light traffic. Its use is made in rooms and bedrooms.
- AC2: For residential spaces with moderate traffic, its use is generalized for dining rooms and living rooms, where wear is low.
- AC3: Ideal for residential spaces with heavy traffic. Also, for commercial spaces with light traffic. Its use is focused on high-traffic living rooms or commercial areas such as offices where traffic is moderate.
- AC4: Designed for commercial spaces with medium traffic, it is used for offices with moderate traffic, likewise, in areas such as cafeterias and clothing stores.
- AC5: High-traffic commercial spaces used in restaurants, showrooms, and schools, among other areas prone to high traffic.
- AC6: This is the most recently included AC rating, designed for high-traffic spaces, like supermarkets and terminals.
In general, the AC1 to AC3 ratings are ideal for residential use. In contrast, the AC4 to AC6 ratings are for commercial use. The more traffic required, the higher the outstanding AC rating.
Other classification criteria: CI “impact criterion.”
In addition to the AC abrasion criterion, there is also the IC or impact criterion. It is a free fall test that measures the resistance to shocks. This is important because, in addition to the traffic that the floor resists, it is necessary for the floor to be able to support the weight influenced by the different elements of the home, whether they are furniture, dining rooms, beds, tables and others. For this reason, the classification in terms of CI is also included.
In this criterion, the classifications are presented in classes, accompanied by a number determining their use. Thus, for example, classes 31, 32 or 33 indicate commercial services, while classes 21, 22 and 23 show residential uses. The two criteria are essential and are not exclusive but complementary since the AC suggests the quality and the IC the resistance.
When choosing a floor, please consider mainly the use you will give it; in this way, you can consider the AC classification and the IC criteria for your spaces.
Factors to consider…
- The thickness is a fundamental factor in determining the suitable laminate floor since they have thicknesses between 7 mm and 12 mm. The thicker the laminate flooring, the greater its strength and durability.
- Install waterproof laminate flooring over wet surfaces or in areas prone to spills.
- When purchasing your laminate flooring, consider factors such as the AC classification of laminate flooring, IC impact criteria, and the thickness and quality of the top layer since the material’s useful life will depend on this decision.