All you need to know about laminate construction
We’ve made it easy for you to learn how laminate is manufactured. The basics are outlined below and we’d like for you to read through them to gain a better understanding of how this unique product is created.
Knowing how laminate is constructed provides you with proper knowledge of laminate right from its beginning. It’s important to know as much as possible about the materials that you walk on and live with every day for years the years to come.
Also, knowing the construction of laminate will also help you understand and evaluate the performance aspects of it.
Continue to read on and we’ll do our very best to educate you on the various steps involved in making laminate and the reasons why certain things are done.
In the section “Introduction to Laminate,” we say that laminate is a manufactured product that is a true look-a-like of hardwood flooring, natural stone and many other types of flooring.
Based on this statement, you may wonder how laminate can resemble these products so closely.
You can find the answer in the process of how laminate is made. This is a combination of the expertise of the men and women behind the methods, machines and materials that create laminate and today’s manufacturing techniques.
These work in harmony and produce a beautiful and functional floor that closely simulate other beautiful and functional floors.
To know laminate, think baking a four-layer cake. Laminate today is available in multitudes of textures, patterns and designs; however, they all consist of four main components that are bonded together.
The backing, or bottom layer, is a melamine plastic layer that lends dimensional stability to the planks and helps guard the laminate against moisture from the sub-floor. This is important because any moisture infiltrating any type of floor can harm it.
Next is the core board. This is generally made from particleboard or high-density fiberboard. This may sometimes contain melamine plastic resins that help improve the core’s moisture resistance.
Next is a decorative layer a/k/a a print film. This is adhered on top of the core board, which gives the floor its hardwood, tile or stone look. This layer is a high-resolution photo, which is printed to replicate the look of wood grain, natural stone or a ceramic tile pattern. (Now you know how the look-a-like is born.)
And the frosting? On the top of our “cake” is a durable wear layer, providing protection and stain resistance.
Most wear layers today contain aluminum oxide and melamine resin. These create exceptional durability that will stand up and last in active households.
All four layers of our “cake” are then combined in a high-pressure process.
Next, we’ll take you through the manufacturing of laminate step by step.
STEP 1: stacking with electronic precision. The process begins with the assembly of the 4 layers of raw materials in large sheets.
Typically, this takes place on a production line where today’s technology enables each individual layer to stack on top of one another with preciseness and precision.
If you’re wondering how precise, the answer is that most manufacturers use the most sophisticated calibrating electronic equipment and a digital camera system to keep each sheet in perfect alignment.
The backing layer is always the first on the line and the core board is placed directly on top of that.
Next is the decorative printed layer, which is placed on top of the core board. The final layer that is stacked is the wear layer.
STEP 2: now the pressure is on. Once all four layers are stacked, they are ready for pressing.
The presses that are used in the creation of laminate flooring have hydraulic rams that apply vast amounts of pressure to each stack.
Each stack of layers is pressed at high temperatures that reach 400 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 600 pounds of pressure per square inch of pressure for 20-30 seconds.
Some manufacturers will carefully monitor the temperature and time while pressing each layer to successfully bond and cure each stack into a single sheet of decorative finished laminate.
If the laminate being manufactured is designed to have a textured surface, the press will have special plates that imprint the textured pattern onto each sheet. This creates very natural looking tiles or planks.
STEP 3: a time out to cool off. After the sheets are pressed they are left to cool, which ensures that they fully cure and will prevent any surface imperfections.
Next, the sheets are stacked and stored for a certain amount of time which allows them to acclimate. This enhances the stability of each board.
STEP 4: planks, profiling and precision. Once the boards are fully acclimated, they are cut into planks or milled.
Each freshly cut plank will then be moved on The freshly cut planks then move on to be profiled. Multiple profiling saws create the tongue and groove edges on the sides of the planks that enable the floor to lock together with ease.
Each blade on the profiling saws use electronic laser systems, which produces very accurate edges and guarantees a perfect fit.
The finished planks then go through a quality inspection and are checked for colour, texture, finish, size and correct interlocking capabilities.
Once approved, the planks are then stacked, packaged and loaded onto trucks for distribution.
Now that you know how laminate flooring is made you can understand why it’s a beautiful, durable and cost-efficient flooring answer for many homes, and homeowners, across the country.