How is laminate flooring thickness measured?
For laminate flooring, plank thickness is measured in millimeters (mm). A millimeter is quite small, roughly 0.039 inches.
Products, like American Concepts, will state plank thickness on their packages or in their advertising by measuring the entire plank thickness – from the bottom surface that rests on the subfloor to the top of the plank. So if a plank has an attached pad (meaning the underlayment is actually attached to each individual plank) you may see a plank thickness of 14 mm. That means it’s a 12 mm thick plank with a 2 mm thick pad attached, equaling 14 mm.
Therefore, plank thickness does not refer strictly to the core of the plank (i.e., C in the illustration above), but the combination of all the layers that make up the plank.
Is laminate flooring thickness a guarantee of durability?
Not necessarily. At KronotexUSA, we see durability provided by the aluminum-oxide wear layer that is on top (i.e., A in the illustration above). The wear layer makes the laminate floor able to stand up to foot traffic and minor abrasions, thus improving its durability.
Impact resistance, or the ability of a laminate floor to withstand the impact of a falling object, is related to plank thickness. In general, the thicker the plank, the more resistant the floor becomes to fracture from a dropped object. Brands like our American Concepts floors meet and exceed a light commercial rating on “Large-Ball Impact Resistance” and “Small-Ball (Dart) Impact Resistance” tests.
Is thickness a guarantee of quality in laminate flooring?
Again, not necessarily; a thicker laminate could be manufactured with lower-quality materials. At KronotexUSA, we use a superior high-density fiber (HDF) core made of 50% southern yellow pine and 50% hardwood in our laminate floors, like American Concepts, no matter what the thickness is. To us, every component of our laminate floor is important in every product we make.
Are there advantages to a thicker plank laminate floor?
Yes, there are a few. BuildDirect sums it up this way in its blog article titled, “Choosing 12 mm Laminate Flooring,” explaining that in “the balance between this spectrum of ease of installation and hardy walking experience, 12 mm laminate flooring feels just like the real thing, and a floor surface that is DIY friendly, too.
- A thicker plank is easier to install. It’s actually a bit forgiving because it can better span minor subfloor deviations without problems later. “Levelness” is very important to a successful installation. Since a laminate floor is a floating floor, a subfloor that has a peak or valley of over 1/8 of an inch within 40 inches of grade is not good.
- A thicker plank can provide superior acoustics. Because the plank is thicker, sound doesn’t travel as well.
- A thicker plank provides better impact resistance, as discussed above.
- American Concepts offers two collections with 12 mm of thickness: Valley Forge and Berkeley Lane.
What are the different thicknesses of laminate flooring?
There are four standard laminate-flooring plank thicknesses on the market. And as you might expect, the thinner the plank, the less expensive the laminate floor.
- 7 millimeter (7 mm), like American Concepts’ Liberty collection.
- 8 millimeter (8 mm), like American Concepts’ Dalton Ridge and Stone Harbor collections.
- 10 millimeter (10 mm), like American Concepts’ Middlebrooke and Sanderlin Mountain collections.
- 12 millimeter (12 mm), like American Concepts’ Valley Forge and Berkeley Lane collections.
What’s the best advice regarding laminate flooring thickness?
As with most purchase decisions, there’s no correct answer for how to choose the best plank thickness. Bigger (or thicker) is usually better for all the reasons we’ve examined here, but there’s no reason to buy more floor than you need. Just make sure you buy a quality laminate floor from a reputable, knowledgeable dealer, like an American Concepts laminate flooring dealer.