WHAT IS LAMINATE FLOORING AND HOW IS IT MADE?
16th March 2017
It’s an amazing manufacturing process by which four layers are fused together in a single press operation at high heat at over 300˚F using direct-pressure laminate (DPL) construction. DPL is the most typical fusing method used to manufacture residential laminate flooring.
Let’s review each of the four layers starting with the bottom layer.
Layer D: Backer paper
At the base of every Swiss Krono laminate flooring plank is a bottom balancing layer that keeps the board straight. The backer seals the back of the laminate board so its dimensional stability isn’t compromised in any way, for example by moisture. Some Swiss Krono laminate planks have foam padding added, eliminating the need for an underlayment; underlayment or padding enhances the acoustical quality of the floors when you walk on it.
Layer C: HDF core or board
The core layer o laminate flooring is high-density fiberboard (HDF), there is also medium-density fiberboard (MDF).. Both HDF and MDF are made from softwood fibers that are broken down, combined with a wax and resin binder, and formed into panels using heat and pressure. However, HDF offers superior stability and strength compared with MDF for the production of laminate flooring; it makes a better floor.
During the manufacturing process, the HDF core will be milled to absolute, micron-precise tolerances. The edges of each plank will be cut to specific profiles to make them easily and consistently fit together for a snug, reliable installation according to one of four locking systems. The extreme micron-milling precision required for these locking systems panel profiles is only possible with an HDF core.
Layer B: Decorative paper
Next comes the decor or decorative-paper layer. The decorative paper is a high quality printed design that gives the laminate plank its distinctive appearance. That appearance can be a realistic reproduction of wood, stone or marble in a multitude of colors and patterns, as well as such non-traditional designs as leaves or grass, artwork or paint splatters.
Layer A: Wear or overlay layer
The top laminate flooring layer is the wear or overlay layer. Aside from putting the finishing, lustrous touch on every plank, it serves several important functions that enhance the floor’s durability:
- The wear layer seals and protects the surface of the laminate floor from everyday minor wear and accidents such as scuffs, scrapes and scratches commonly caused by pet claws, shoes, kids toys, furniture legs, vacuum cleaners and the like.
- It shields the decorative paper layer from harmful ultraviolet rays that could fade the color. Most people like big open windows. Problem is that if those windows face south or southwest, prolonged exposure from sunlight can subject the floor to a big dose of ultraviolet rays. UV rays can actually create photodegradation (fading) that breaks the chemical bonds in color. In essence, the color gets “bleached” over time from the sun without proper Wear Layer protection.
You’ll notice a range of finishes (from near matte to high-gloss) in the wear layer depending on the desired style of flooring. As you can see, a lot goes into laminate flooring to make it such an ideal floor for wear and affordability as well as beauty.