Indoor flooring is one of the most important elements of the interior and its choice from many types will be very important. Particular attention is required to consider the parameters of the quality of the flooring, a careful study of which will help to choose the most optimal option. By choosing a good-quality floor covering, you will get not only the durability of the floor, but also good thermal insulation and sound insulation characteristics of the room.
Of the many types of decorative floor coverings that are present in the modern construction market, let’s look at three main ones – parquet, laminate and linoleum. All three types have a number of performance characteristics that can differ both between types and between wear resistance classes, and different models. To choose the most optimal and affordable option from a variety of products from a mass of manufacturers, one should understand the main criteria and characteristics by which the quality of the flooring is determined. After reading the article, you will get an idea of the parameters that will help you make the right choice.
How to determine parquet quality?
To better understand how high-quality parquet is, you first need to understand what it consists of. If you thought that the parquet board was made of solid wood, you are wrong, it has a multi-layer structure. Each layer has a specific function, which together determine the quality of the parquet. So let’s take a closer look at each layer individually.
Top layer – this layer is primarily decorative. Its abrasion resistance is determined by the hardness of the wood; different types of wood have different strength characteristics. The top layer is usually made of fine woods such as oak, beech, aspen, maple, pine and many others. Usually this layer has a thickness of 4 millimeters, which is quite enough for the parquet to last 10 years without any complaints. The less the thickness of this layer, the less durable the parquet flooring. The thickness of the top layer determines the number of sanding cycles.
The middle layer is the next layer, which consists mainly of pine or other softwood. Its thickness ranges from 8 to 10 millimeters. This layer is important in that it is joint, that is, at this level there is a lock that holds the parquet boards together with honey. It is important that the layer does not consist of solid wood, but is formed from many planks located perpendicular to other layers of the parquet board. This is required for better resistance of the parquet to changes in humidity, temperature and a more durable connection with other parquet planks.
Bottom layer – The last layer is the fixing layer and anchors the middle layer. It is solid plywood, which is the final link in the parquet, and has a thickness of about 2 millimeters. It has no special parameters, therefore it does not require close attention.
Criteria for choosing a quality parquet
First of all, the choice of parquet is determined by its appearance and texture. If the top layer has an uneven color spectrum and has various defects that are inherent in wood, such as knots or uneven annual rings, then this indicates a poor quality wood material. This does not mean that it is less durable, but such parquet will not be expensive and will not look as impressive as a parquet board made of high quality wood.
- One of the main criteria for parquet quality is its hardness. This is determined by the type of wood used for the top decorative layer. There are five hardness classes, which determine the quality and high cost of a parquet board.
The first class is the hardest wood species such as ironwood, boxwood, merbau.
The second class is hornbeam and ash.
The third class is beech, oak, maple, elm. The fourth class is aspen and soft birch. The fifth class is the softest species, which include cedar, pine or linden.
- To make the right choice, you need to pay attention to the markings on the parquet itself. Look carefully at the certificate of conformity to GOST, as well as the quality certificate from the manufacturer and the same for hygienic safety. If you come across a product that is overly praised, it is a sign that the product is not of the highest quality. A self-respecting manufacturer clearly knows the price of his product and will not deceive the buyer.
How to determine the quality of a laminate?
Like parquet, laminate has a multi-layer structure. It is not made from natural wood materials, which are modern analogues of pressed wood with the addition of binding chemicals. These are fiberboard, MDF, chipboard or HDF, which are most often used in the manufacture of laminated coverings. Laminate is a more practical floor covering due to its low cost and excellent durability and strength parameters. But this material has a number of characteristics that indicate the quality of the coating. Let’s take a look at the layers that make up the laminate.
The first layer is the top protective layer that protects the panel from external influences. This layer provides abrasion resistance and is one of the most important. The layer is a protective film, also called an overlay. It can be realized in several layers, which gives greater stability.
The second layer is a decorative layer that simulates a surface made from natural materials. The most common, probably the only one, is the stylization under the tree, but there are other imitations, for example, under the natural stone or other material and color. This layer is a special paper that has a large number of textures and colors.
The third layer is the basis for other layers and is made of fiberboard, MDF, chipboard or HDF. Depending on the use of a particular base material, the strength of the laminate is determined. For example, HDF is a high density wood subfloor, which gives the laminate floor even greater strength and durability.
The fourth layer is a special paper coating impregnated with a resin composition that prevents moisture from penetrating into the main layer. It also protects the wood board from deformation under the influence of temperature and humidity changes.
Criteria for choosing a quality laminate
First of all, the laminate is divided into classes that indicate the degree of strength of the floor covering. The higher the class, the more stable and durable this floor is. The most popular are 21, 22, 23, 31, 32, 33 classes of laminated panels. The first three with the first number 2 indicate a low degree of strength and abrasion resistance. This means that for places where there is an intense flow of people, that is, in an office, store or other similar place, it is better not to use such a laminate. The last three with the first number 3, on the contrary, have good strength indicators and can be used in crowded places.
- Also pay attention to the third main layer of the board itself. As mentioned above, it can be fiberboard, MDF, chipboard or HDF. The latter material has the highest strength and withstands high bending and deformation loads. Other types are less durable, so here they are selected based on the needs of the user who decides to buy laminate flooring.
- The next point is the lock that connects the laminated panels to each other. Renowned manufacturers use their own developed designs of such locks that withstand stretching well and will not yield to deformation. There are two types of locks – Click and Lock. In simple terms, the first option is a snap-on design, and the second is a padded design. Both options are very reliable and here you should choose based on your own convenience.
- When choosing a laminate, first of all, you should pay attention to products from well-known and well-established manufacturers.
How to determine the quality of linoleum?
Linoleum is the most affordable and simple floor covering, therefore it is in great demand. It is most often used at home and in the office for its practicality and rather good physical properties of toughness and abrasion resistance. Linoleum has a different configuration and also has characteristics that determine its quality. Basically, linoleum consists of two parts, which we will consider in more detail below.
The front side is the decorative side of linoleum, which is made of a polyurethane base. The better this layer is, the more stable the linoleum flooring as a whole. Linoleum can be divided into commercial and household, in the first case, the pattern passes through the entire thickness of the layer, in the second only from above. Therefore, commercial linoleum is the most durable and can withstand significant daily loads of 5 tons per square meter and will last quite a long time without losing the pattern of the upper face layer.
The substrate is the lowest layer, which is the base and has the property of insulation. But it can be just a durable polyurethane coating without insulation. The thickness of the lower layer of linoleum does not indicate its strength. If the substrate is soft, as a rule, such linoleum is good soundproofing and retains heat. It is well suited for the home, but it will also be very useful for the office.
Criteria for choosing high-quality linoleum
You can determine the quality of linoleum by such signs – it is a relief texture that has a good thickness, as a rule, a very high-quality, bright design solution, that is, a high-quality drawing, also speaks of the good quality of linoleum.
- The stability of linoleum is better in the commercial type, since it is designed for the intense loads of human legs and other factors. The PVC coating of the first layer must have a pattern that runs through the entire thickness of the layer. This is the main indicator of high-quality and durable linoleum flooring.
- Another important factor is the manufacturing firm that produces the linoleum. Well-known brands care about their reputation and keep the brand, producing quality and durable products.