Contrary to what you may assume, the thicker the floor does not necessarily mean better or tougher. There are many factors that determine what laminate flooring thickness is right for your project, whether that be 6 mm up to 12 mm thick.
How to choose laminate flooring thickness will require you to weigh several important factors.
You need to be aware of where you are installing the floor, as different laminates have different durability ratings. You need to know who is installing the floor, and what thickness they are comfortable with. Be aware as well of the quality of the subfloor, as that will determine how thin you can reasonably go.
Don’t get overwhelmed, we will walk you through how to pick the perfect thickness of the laminate floor.
What is laminate flooring thickness?
It is the thickness of the core layer of the laminate plank up to the top. This measurement does not include the subfloor or the cladding that can come on some laminate planks.
How is it measured?
Laminate flooring is measured in millimeters. The thinnest you can find is 6 mm. The sizes go up in increments of two millimeters, so the next thickest is 8 mm, then 10 mm. The thickest laminate planks on the market are 12 mm thick.
NOTE: If you find a laminate plank that measures greater than 12 mm, the measurement is not correct and probably is including padding that should be excluded.
Does thickness of laminate matter?
The thickness of the laminate matters depending on your specific project. You must consider the subfloor that you are installing over. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is it flat and smooth? Or is it uneven?
- Is it a solid floor, like concrete? Or are you covering up the old, not so sturdy wood floor?
- Do you have a need for greater soundproofing?
- Are you after a realistic wood look?
- Is the person installing the floor an amateur, or have they worked with laminate several times in the past?
Each of these scenarios will affect what thickness of laminate planks will suffice.
Are any advantages when buying thicker laminate flooring plank?
There are a few advantages when buying thicker laminate flooring planks.
- The thicker laminate floor contains more of the high-density fiber core, which provides sound deadening. A thinner laminate floor will not help as much with a sound barrier, as less core means more sound transference.
- A thicker floor will have much better strength and stability, so it can be laid over a subfloor with peaks and valleys. Thinner laminate should not be laid over a subfloor that is not very even, as it will flex with pressure and breakdown.
- The rigidness of a thicker laminate allows the installer to align the lock assembly with greater ease. The flexibility of a thinner laminate plank makes it more difficult to align the locking tabs and there a greater chance of the tabs breaking.
- A thicker plank will have a more realistic stone or wood look, as it allows for deeper embossing in production.
- A thicker plank will also generally provide more impact resistance, although the AC Rating is also an important determining factor.
NOTE - In general, a thicker laminate plank is going to be more expensive than the thin version, so budget according to your thickness needs.
What is AC Rating and why is important?
The durability of laminate flooring will be indicated by its AC (Abrasion Criteria) Rating. The rating system goes from a low of AC1 up to a high of AC5. These levels are each a 60% increase in durability over the level before.
The AC rating is going to indicate how well that floor will hold up against abrasions, spills, stains, and cigarette burns. It will also factor in how likely the floor is to swell at the edges and how it can handle regular pressure like furniture legs and casters.
If laminate flooring does not carry an AC rating, that means it did not meet the minimum requirements and should be avoided. This rating system was enacted by the European Producers of Laminate Flooring and is used worldwide, to ensure a standard in the rating system.
Whatever area you are installing your laminate flooring in, there is a corresponding appropriate rating. An AC rating too low for your space will not be durable enough, but a too high rating will have its own unique issues. A floor rated for a department store will be too rough to comfortable walk on in your bedroom barefoot.
The following is a guide for all the AC ratings:
An AC1 rated laminate is suitable for very low trafficked, home use only. This flooring is sufficient for closets, rarely used guest rooms or a formal dining room.
You do not want to use this floor in an area where furniture is moved around, people walk through frequently, or a home with pets.
An AC2 rated laminate is appropriate for residential areas that see moderate traffic. This wouldn’t be ideal for an entryway or a hallway. However, this could be used in a bedroom, a family room, or a living room.
You still want to be careful that furniture is moved with care, but it can withstand it much better than an AC1 would.
An AC3 laminate is rated specifically for wide use in residential areas. This laminate can withstand being installed in hallways, main living areas, stairs, and kitchens.
It can even hold up in some light commercial spaces, such as an office or conference room.
An AC4 laminate is fit for commercial areas with general traffic. This could be an office that has regular customer visits, a café, or a salon.
This is the first level that would not be appropriate for a residential setting – an AC3 would be sufficient for those needs.
An AC5 laminate is a correct choice for heavy traffic, commercial applications. This is the level to choose for busy restaurants, department stores, or popular public buildings. You definitely do not want to pick this level for a residential area.
The higher-rated laminates are often made with high-pressure laminate, which is too harsh for residential applications.
These are my best 3 Underlayments for you Laminate floors you might find interesting:
Additional Tips when Choosing Correct Laminate Flooring Thickness
- The AC Rating is a separate rating than the laminate floor thickness. The combination of both needs to be pondered prior to making a purchase. You may find an 8mm thick laminate flooring with an AC3 rating, and a 12mm floor with an AC2 rating.
- If you’re installing laminate over a smooth concrete floor in the entryway of your family home, the 8mm AC3 would work well. If instead you’re looking at redoing a guest bedroom with an old wood floor, the 12mm AC2 would be the better pick.
- It may be tempting to grab ahold of a great deal you spot in the clearance section but be wary. Installing an inadequately thick or poorly rated laminate could result in warping and breaking, forcing you to revisit the project far too soon.
- Taking the time to consider all the factors before choosing a thickness and AC rating for your laminate will ensure the perfect flooring for your project.
What is the average laminate floor thickness?
The average thickness for a residential laminate floor is 8mm.
Is the most expensive laminate the best?
Not necessarily. A 12mm thick, AC5 laminate floor is going to be at the top of the price range. However, that could be a much more robust floor than you need. If you’re flooring a moderate traffic, residential area, you will have plenty of options in a mid-range price.
Is thick laminate hard to install?
Thicker laminate can often be easier to install than the thinner versions. Thin laminate locking assemblies can be delicate, and the tabs on thinner laminate break much easier than those on the thicker planks.
4. Is a thicker laminate floor better than thinner?
It completely depends on your specific project. A thinner laminate floor can do the job just fine for many low traffic, light use flooring projects.
What thickness of laminate has a more natural wood or stone look?
Thicker laminate flooring allows for deeper embossing. Embossing is the process by which laminate floors get a more natural look, as the grooves create shadows and texture.
Where can I find thicker laminate floors?
You should be able to find thick laminate floors wherever laminate floors are sold. It may be easier to find thinner planks in stock, but you should be able to order whatever thickness you desire.