Laminate Flooring Glossary H-I

Posted on Aug 26th 2014 Posted by David — Comments ↓

As I go along working on a full glossary of Laminate Floor terminology, I'm posting finished sections.   Here are links to the other pages:   Laminate Glossary A-B Laminate Glossary C Laminate Glossary D Laminate Glossary E-G Laminate Glossary H-I Laminate Glossary J-O Laminate Glossary P-R Laminate Glossary S Laminate Glossary T Laminate Glossary U-the end        

Laminate Flooring Glossary of Terms: H-I

Hand-Scraped Style Laminates - You can't really hand scrape a laminate – well you can, but if you do we won't sell it because it will be ruined – so laminate floors have been designed to mimic the hand-scraping done on solid hardwood floors. This is done by texturing the surface, giving it both the wavy feel and some of the tiny bumping and notching. A hardwood floor would be sanded to give it a smooth surface so it would be walkable. With laminates the wear layer already provides the desired smoothness.

Hand-Scraped Laminate

Close up of Hand-Scraped texturing.

Heated floors (usually “Radiant Heating”) - Laminate floors are a pretty good choice to go over heated flooring because they conduct heat so well. The things to keep in mind are


1– Your specific floor will have a specific temperature over which your floor surface should not go. Consider that a hard rule. 

2 – As with any floor, you will need to conduct a heating test before installing your laminate. 

3 – Your padding may need to be made of a high density material, felt or rubber, and a vapor barrier will be needed. Check your instructions for the specifics, always. 

4 – If your floor is heated with hot water, you may also need to have a moisture test done before your installation.

High Density Fiberboard (HDF) - The center layer of a laminate floor, the part closest to being the board itself, is usually made of a fiberboard (see above), and these come in low, medium and high densities. HDF is made from wood fibers which are bonded into shape by pressure. Usually no additional materials are needed to do the bonding. The board has a non-porous surface, which makes it ideal for laminates because it can be easily sealed. While it can look the same as a medium density board, its higher density means a higher tensile strength – it's tougher to break. It also does not crack or split, which can happen with particle board. The density is usually around 55 lbs per cubic foot, never less than 31. This also makes the boards less reactive to the environmental changes that affect most plank floors. It resists shrinking and swelling the most of these three.

High Gloss - Not to be a smart aleck, but this just means that the surface of the particular laminate is smooth and really shiny. Like a nice piano. Or glass. That's it!  .

Hydroscopic - Not just a flooring term but a science term, this refers to the ability of any substance to absorb or lose moisture. Stone is not very hydroscopic, wood is hydroscopic, sponges are extremely hydroscopic. This quality of wood is why it expands and contracts with environmental changes.

High Pressure Laminate - Of two forms of laminate flooring production, this and Direct Pressure (DPL, explained above), HPL forms the more durable floor. Where DPL is constructed using around 400 PSI of pressure, with HPL the layers are bound using 1300 PSI, and in multiple steps rather than DPL's single step. Most HPL laminates receive an AC5 durability rating, the highest rating for laminates, safe for most commercial uses, let alone in the home. This means more resistance to dents and impacts, heat and moisture, general wear and chipping while you install your floor. HPL laminates are more balanced (see above) and tend to be thicker floors than DPL floors.

Impact Resistance - This is specifically about damage, not about the impact itself. It's a marker of how well a thing resists being damaged by a falling object. The only way to resist the impact itself is to use the force, and no one really does that, at least no one famous.

Inflammability classification - There are a few systems used to classify a material's inflammability, the most commonplace being one from Germany designated DIN 4102-B1. Sometimes this will be printed on the labeling, meaning that the product is of low inflammability. There are other systems as well, but laminates don't vary much in this area. They are generally just difficult to ignite, so the designation can be missing in the same way as the note “contains wood” may be left off the packaging because with rare exceptions all of it does.

Rating Degree of flammability Examples A1 100% noncombustible A2 ~98% noncombustible B1 Difficult to ignite B2 Normal combustibility - wood fits in here, laminate is usually one up, at B1 B3 Easily ignited

Inlay - In installation this is a decorative effect where of the same, exact product, but different colors or patterns, are used to make large stylistic features in a floor. Because of the way click together floors are installed, this is almost unheard of in laminates. It's more frequently done with hardwood flooring where the pieces are not connected to each other. We just don't have a lot of that kind of freedom with a laminate floor.

Installation - Basically this is putting the flooring in place. There are three main installation types, all of which come under a general Click Together heading, and most of which are floating floors. See the videos under Click Together above.

Installation direction - It is exactly what it sounds like, but this is an important term to keep in mind. When installing a click together floor, the tongues are always inserted into the grooves. We never insert, or surround, the grooves with the tongues, installing backwards, if you will. This causes all sorts of problems. This means that you will have a direction for your installation. When you start you'll have tongues facing the walls, leaving the grooves available for your next planks or rows. Depending on which sides of the planks those fall on, you will either install left to right, or right to left across your room as you do each row.


Another way to think of this simply has to do with how you want your floor to look, or in which direction you want your rows to be. As a rule you have three options, along one wall, along the perpendicular wall, or at a diagonal through the room. Many prefer to install perpendicular to the traffic flow. In some cases the subfloor may be made of boards, and it may be necessary to install perpendicular to those.

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David is has written and made videos about flooring products and installation since 2011 at Floors To Your Home (.com), where he is also the PPC Manager, a Researcher, a Website & Marketing Strategy Team member, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jito. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, put together a podcast, explore film history, and mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’). Connect with  W. David Lichty


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