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Commercial Laminate Floor Vs. Residential

Laminate flooring is extremely versatile and durable and has quickly become a popular choice of business and homeowners alike. With a virtually unlimited selection of color and texture, chances are there is a laminate floor out there to meet your needs. However, there are some basic differences to keep in mind when choosing a laminate floor, and one of the most important to consider is whether it will be used in a commercial or residential setting.

Evolution

Laminate flooring offers alternatives to hardwood and other materials.

Laminate flooring is very popular, but it is also surprisingly new to the market.  It has only been in the US. for about 20 years, even though it is now coming close to becoming one of the most popular forms of flooring in the nation.  Laminate was initially developed in Sweden and used for countertops or wall embellishments. It was not durable enough to withstand use as flooring when it was first developed.  However, a new ultra-durable variety began to be manufactured in the early 90s, it didn't take long for it to cross the pond into the United States market.

Durability

Durability is the key difference between residential and commercial laminate flooring.  Although all laminate is designed to be very durable, the laminate used in commercial buildings where there is heavy foot traffic requires an extra boost. This boost is achieved using pressure.  High-pressure laminate (HPL) is preferred for commercial flooring because it offers increased impact and chip resistance over direct pressure laminate (DPL), which is commonly used for laminate flooring intended for residential settings. Both utilize a melamine overlay, which protects against wear, stain and fade.  However, HPL undergoes a two-step process (as opposed to the one-step process required for DPL) that seals the print and paper together before then sealing them onto the flooring. This extra step increases the durability. 

Cost

The cost of laminate flooring varies widely.  It is largely dependent on style, thickness and manufacturing method. In general, HPL flooring costs more than DPL, if only for the extra step in the manufacturing process.  Commercial flooring orders will cost more than most residential orders, if for no other reason than the large square footage that must be covered in a commercial environment. There are several major companies that manufacture laminate, such as Pergo and Mohawk, so prices tend to vary by company as well. 

Installation

The two most popular installation methods for laminate flooring are gluing and locking.  Gluing is when the laminate flooring planks are glued together to create a seal, and locking is when small joints are present in the laminate flooring that allow the pieces to snap together. In both cases, the laminate flooring attaches to itself and not to the existing floor.  Both installation methods are used on commercial and residential laminate flooring, although installing with water resistant glue can improve the seal in some cases.

Replacement

Laminate flooring is a very convenient and economical choice when it comes to replacement as well.  In some flooring, replacement can be difficult because you have to worry about dye lots. Flooring that is not manufactured in the same dye lot may have slight variations in color that make replacement difficult.  However, laminate flooring utilizes pictures of various designs that are sealed into the flooring. This means dye lots are not an issue and replacement is not difficult so long as the style of flooring needed is still available.  This is often very preferable to commercial industries that must cover a large floor space with a certain type of flooring, although it is a convenient feature of residential owners as well.

About the Author

Aric Mitchell lives and works out of Fort Smith, Ark. When not writing articles for Demand Studios, he scribes film columns for "Celebrate Arkansas Magazine" and Flickchart.com, and serves as a staff writer for TheRugged.com, a Dallas-based online men's lifestyle magazine.

Photo Credits

  • texture of wooden floor image by Elnur from Fotolia.com