How is laminate flooring made?
Laminate flooring is a synthetic type of flooring which simulates either natural wood, or (occasionally) stone. This type of flooring was invented in 1977 by the Swedish Company Perstorp, and sold under the brand Pergo. In 1984, laminate flooring was made available in the United Kingdom, and in 1994, in the United States. It has since become one of the most popular forms of flooring, due to affordability, durability, and ease of cleaning.
But how is laminate flooring made?
Each individual piece of flooring is made using four different layers. Before you can understand the process in which these layers are combined, you need to first understand what each layer is - and what purpose it serves. We'll start at the top, and work our way down.
The top layer is called either the "wear layer" or "protective layer." It is simply a clear melamine resin that adds a little extra protection to the flooring. It aids in resisting moisture penetration, stains, and gouges or cracks in your floor. Finishes can be high gloss, matte, or a combination of the two.
The next layer is responsible for laminate flooring looking like real wood or stone. This is called the "decorative" or "pattern layer." It is a very thin piece of paper printed with the appropriate imaging to portray the finish desired.
Next we have the "core" layer, which is a high density fibreboard that has been saturated in resin to make it water resistant. This is the largest layer, and as a bonus, since no trees are used it is also considered to be eco-friendly.
Finally, there is the "balance" layer, which provides stabilization. It also helps to further resist moisture, and is made from melamine plastic. Sometimes a backing is attached to this layer, while other times it is not.
Putting The Layers Together
These four layers are combined through a high-pressure process that combines heat and pressure. Heat reaches temperatures over 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and pressure is as much as 600 pounds per square inch. This process only takes between twenty and thirty seconds.
Once the layers have been pressurised, they are set off to the side so that can cool, which allows them to fully cure. When cooled, they at then stacked and stored away for differing amounts of time to allow them to better acclimate.
After some time, the boards are pulled from stage and milled using special profiling saws. Tongue and groove edges are created so the end results will fit together seamlessly. The final step is a quality inspection process, where any damaged, warped, or otherwise inappropriate pieces are gotten rid of.