If you’re ready to redecorate, we’re ready to help. We’ll help in lots of ways, from understanding what laminate is and why it’s better than hardwood floors to narrowing your choices to one that’s right for you.
What does an AC Rating indicate? Swiss Krono is a member the North American Laminate Floor Association (NALFA). This cooperative effort was formed to develop industry standards and provide consumers a means of identifying the usage level of various laminate-flooring products.The common term used to denote the durability level of laminate flooring is its “AC” rating. AC ratings are an abbreviated representation of a laminate’s resistance to abrasion, impact, stains and cigarette burns. The ratings also indicate that the product has been tested for the effects of furniture legs, castors and swelling along its edges. If a laminate-flooring product has a rating, then it has passed all of the test criteria. Failing just one test disqualifies a product.Rating levels are designated AC1 through AC5. Each is represented by international icon reflecting the product’s application and durability. The primary application is divided into two groups: residential and commercial. Each group is further divided into traffic intensity levels: moderate, general or heavy. The residential rating is designated by an icon of a house and the commercial rating by a building. To the right of those, corresponding to the traffic-intensity levels, are one, two, or three people. Below these icons is a numerical representation of the same information: The first number indicates the primary application: 2 = residential, 3 = commercial; the second number indicates the traffic-intensity level: 1 = moderate, 2 = general, 3 = heavy.The following is a breakdown of the AC ratings, their associated symbols and some suitable uses: Icon/Residential House, 1 person AC 1 Residential, moderate traffic: Suitable for bedrooms or guest rooms Icon/Residential House, 2 people AC 2 Residential, general traffic: Suitable for living rooms or dining rooms Icon/Residential House, 3 people AC 3 Residential, heavy traffic: Suitable for all areas Icon/Commercial Building, 1 person AC 3 Commercial, moderate traffic: Hotel rooms, small office Icon/Commercial Building, 2 people AC 4 Commercial, general traffic: Office, boutique, café Icon/ Commercial Building, 3 people AC 5 Commercial, heavy traffic: Public buildings, department stores. Note that products with an AC3 rating can be used for all residential applications as well as moderate commercial applications. Of course, AC4 and AC5 rated products could also be used in all residential areas.
Can Swiss Krono laminate flooring be used in any basement? Laminate flooring and basements are made for each other, provided the environment has the right conditions. Here are the conditions in which Swiss Krono laminate flooring can be installed:
- The space is below grade with at least one concrete wall;
- The concrete-slab floor must have been poured with a poly sheet underneath it. This helps protect against changes in hydrostatic pressure and controls the curing process;
- The concrete-slab floor must be more than 90 days old (so that it’s adequately cured);
- It can have a “walk-out” onto a patio area or walkway; and
- It cannot have a drain in the floor or a French drain along the inside of the perimeter of the floor. If it does, we don’t recommend a laminate floor.
What is moisture-vapor flow? Moisture-vapor flow occurs when moisture is forced up through the basement’s concrete floor by hydrostatic pressure. In most areas of the country, basements are built below grade and contain some level of moisture year-round. The amount of moisture allowed into the basement, combined with local conditions, can create a musty environment. However, moisture in most basements — particularly those that are candidates for finishing — may not be obvious at all. But those that have standing water, moisture stains or dampish areas are not good candidates. That’s why you should test your seemingly “dry” basement concrete floor before deciding whether to install Swiss Krono laminate-wood flooring.What’s a “must have” when it comes to having a laminate floor in the basement? Always use a vapor barrier, which is the plastic film between the concrete-slab floor and your padding and laminate plank. Swiss Krono specifies that the vapor barrier for its laminate floors must be 6mm thick and made of virgin polyester. Recycled film may not have the structural integrity you need.
Is laminate flooring hypo-allergenic? Yes, the surface of laminate is hard so it does hold the allergens that typically accumulate in softer floor coverings. This makes laminate one of the best flooring options for rooms frequented by children or anyone with health concerns.
What is the difference between direct-pressure laminate and high-pressure laminate? Direct-pressure laminate (DPL) is the most typical fusing method used to manufacture residential laminate flooring. Swiss Krono USA uses DPL. It is made up of four layers that are fused in a single-press operation:
- an impact-resistant top layer provides a protective finish
- a high-quality printed design in the color and pattern you select
- a high-density fiberboard (HDF) that comprises the plank’s core; and
- a bottom balancing layer equalizes pressure and keeps the board straight.
HPL is an extra-hard fusing process used to manufacture laminate flooring. The surface, inner layers and backing layer are fused in a multiple-step press operation. This process creates the most durable laminate construction. HPL is made up of the following layers:
- A high-performance-wear layer provides a durable protective surface that resists scuffs, stains and fading;
- A high-quality printed design in the color and pattern you select;
- Phenolic-treated kraft sheets that provide additional impact resistance and sound-deadening properties;
- Penetrating seam sealant, a hot wax-and-oil emulsion treatment that penetrates HDF fibers for long-term moisture protection;
- A water-resistant, high-density fiberboard provides improved structural integrity and additional moisture protection; and
- A bottom balancing layer equalizes pressure, keeps the board straight.
Is one better than the other? HPL is a superior product and, therefore, more expensive. Adding Phenolic-treated sheets make the HPL a far stronger, more dent-resistant and stable product. HDL is also strong but more cost efficient… strong enough for everyday traffic in our homes. Do you need HPL in your home? Probably not.
I have a fireplace. How close to it can laminate flooring be installed? Check your local building code for the recommended distance. If no building code exists, leave at least 2 feet between the fireplace or wood stove and your laminate floor.
I have a fish tank in one room, and a queen-size waterbed in another. Can I install laminate in these rooms? Swiss Krono laminate flooring may be installed in both rooms provided that neither the waterbed nor the aquarium leak. While smaller spills can be wiped up quickly and won’t harm the laminate floor, larger spills can cause serious damages to the core material and will not be covered by our warranty. Therefore, be very cautious when filling, emptying or cleaning either item. Make sure that any tank or bed is level and that the weight is distributed evenly by placing it on furniture with a solid base rather a footed base. Be aware, however, that this may prevent the flooring from expanding and contracting as designed.
Why is it called a floating floor? It’s called floating floor because laminate planks are not glued, nailed or otherwise fastened to the subfloor or walls. This type of installation allows the planks to expand and contract as temperature and other conditions change. Floating floors gain their strength from locking to the other planks in the floor.
Which direction should planks run in a hallway? Install laminate flooring in your hallway parallel to the long walls.
Can I install laminate under the large appliances in my kitchen? Laminate flooring can be installed under your refrigerator and other large kitchen appliances. If, as with refrigerators, the appliance uses water or may create condensation, see special instructions for installation.
Can Swiss Krono laminate wood flooring be installed in my mobile home? A conditional yes, providing our stated tolerances and installation guidelines are met.
Moving a Floor
I’m a contract worker who moves residences frequently. Can I move my Swiss Krono laminate floor? Planks that are from 10mm to 12mm thick can be moved up to three times. If you know that you will be moving with your flooring we suggest buying a few additional cartons to cover for change in room sizes or incidental damages during your move.
Pets (birds, fish, dogs, etc.)
Will the finish on your flooring product withstand occasional bird droppings without staining or other damage as long as they are cleaned off in a short period of time? Bird droppings will not stain Swiss Krono flooring. We recommend the use of a damp mop to remove the droppings. Never use excessive amounts of water.Gluing the planks in areas that are continually exposed to moisture is highly recommended as it will keep any fluids from getting between the planks.We have fish. Are there any special considerations we should make in setting up our aquarium? Two things to consider: Set the tank up on a piece of furniture or pedestal with a solid base rather than one with feet and make sure it is level. Water weighs a lot, so this will distribute weight evenly across the planks. Also, be cautious when filling, emptying or cleaning the tank. While smaller spills can be wiped up quickly and won’t harm the laminate floor, larger spills can cause serious damages to the core material and will not be covered by our warranty.Can dogs scratch laminate floors? Laminate flooring by its very nature and construction is extremely durable and able to withstand scratches from even the biggest household animals. However, sometimes scratches happen. If and when a scratch happens, you’ll want to use a laminate-floor repair kit.How can I protect my laminate floor from dog urine, dog saliva, dog sweat and tracking water from the dog’s bowl? Fluids are the enemy of laminate floors because they can seep into the seams between the laminate planks. For that reason, it’s critical to immediately wipe up wet areas.Some preventative steps you can take:
- Placing a tray with an absorbent mat under your dog’s water bowl.
- Encouraging your sweating dog to cool down on a mat rather than on the laminate.
- Adding a continuous bead of PVA Type II glue to the edges of any laminate planks likely to be exposed to moisture. Glue will keep any fluids from getting in between the planks.
How can I completely erase dog tracks from my laminate floors? If your laminate floor is highly glossy, you’ll want to clean it frequently with hot water in a spray or mister bottle and a microfiber mop. High-gloss laminate flooring often shows prints — especially so if you have a dog.How can I remove muddy paw prints? If the mud is wet, wipe it up quickly. Consider adding doormats by your doors to remove mud before it gets tracked in. For dry mud, vacuuming or sweeping will do the trick. Just make sure your vacuum doesn’t use a beater brush. Do not use floor steam cleaners and wet jets. They add moisture to the mix and can damage your floor.
I’m bringing my plants in for the winter. Is it OK to put the plants around the treadmill? It shouldn’t be a problem if you are careful to protect the laminate floor from moisture. Moisture is the enemy of all laminate floors. Use planters that ensure no water will leak on your floor after watering. Wipe all spills off immediately. Also, depending on the type and number of plants, you should keep an eye on whether it is affecting the humidity. (It should not exceed 75%, which can be controlled by continuing to use your HVAC in the room.)
I have a property at the beach and now that the rental season is over I am refreshing it this winter. Can I put Swiss Krono laminate flooring in my rental property? Yes, you can install laminate flooring in your beach home provided that you continue to operate the heating and air all year to keep a constant temperature between 64º F and 94º F and humidity not exceeding exceed 75%.
Is it true that laminate has a fake or hollow sound? Is there anything I can do to improve the sound quality? You may be surprised to hear that laminate flooring is not significantly noisier than other hard flooring surfaces. The thickness of the laminate flooring (ideally 10mm or 12mm with attached pad) and the choice of underlayment will have the greatest effect in reducing noise from foot traffic. We recommend buying an acoustical underlayment, but please do not use an acoustical underlayment beneath flooring with pre-attached pad.
How do I calculate square footage and how much should I buy? Square footage is the length of a floor multiplied by its width. If doing more than room, or if you have an irregularly shaped area, break it into smaller rectangles and add them together to get your total. If installing a wood-grain finish, we recommend you add 10% to your purchase to compensate for cuts and waste; add up to 20% more for tile patterns. Remember to keep leftover planks or cartons in case a plank or section of the floor needs to be replaced in the future.
Can laminate flooring be installed on stairs? Yes, even though we speak of our laminate as a floating floor, it can be installed on stairs as fixed flooring.
What is embossed in register? If you look closely at a typical laminate floor, you’ll discover that the texture on the surface doesn’t match the pattern. The laminate surface has a “generic” smooth or wood-grain texture applied to it, regardless of the underlying pattern. Laminate flooring with a registered embossed surface (or embossing that is in register) is different. Premium press plates made in a multistage process are used to produce laminate flooring with the embossed-in-register surface. This amazing technology actually matches the texture with the underlying pattern on each individual flooring plank. Regardless of whether you’re looking at a wood or tile design, the surface of the floor matches the pattern underneath it, creating a startling level of realism.
I purchased laminate that was listed as an 8mm (.315-inch) thick plank, but it only measures .300 inches thick. Is this a manufacturing error? The target thickness is 8mm or .315 inches on each plank. However, because of changing conditions and consistencies of such raw materials as high-density fiberboard and paper, the actual thickness may vary within a defined tolerance. The high-density fiberboard we use is manufactured to a North American standard with an acceptable thickness variation of +/- 0.5mm or .0197 inches. Therefore, it would be technically acceptable to have readings as low as .295 inches or as high as .335 inches on our finished product.
Can laminate flooring be installed over a radiant-heat system? Our laminate flooring may be installed over a hydro-/water-based system because the temperature changes slowly from cold to warm and reverse. We do not recommend installing our flooring over electric heat systems as they heat up and cool down very quickly, causing the floor to expand and contract so fast that it may damage it.
Wires and Cables
I have a lot of speaker wires, video coaxial cable, electric cords and plugs that were previously concealed by carpeting. Can I run the cables under the Swiss Krono planks? It is not recommended to run wires or cables underneath your laminate for a couple of reasons: First, it may violate your local fire code; and second, it may cause unevenness in your subfloor that in turn will cause your laminate floor to buckle. There are wire tracks available that enable you to install low-voltage wiring (for example: speaker wire, stereo cables, telephone wiring, network wiring or alarm wiring) behind standard wall-base molding. Some base moldings offer a channel for wiring as well.