EPLF, the Association of European Producers of Laminate Flooring, provides active and practical guidance in the often confusing maze of different standards. For this reason, EPLF has produced a new technical bulletin: "Underlay Materials under Laminate Floor Coverings –Test Standards and Performance Indicators". It explains the test methods of the new technical specification for underlay materials CEN/TS16354 and provides instructions and assistance with selecting the right underlay for laminate flooring for different forms of use. The data sheet can be downloaded for free as a PDF in German and English from the EPLF website (www.eplf.com).
What do you need to be aware of when laying laminate on heated or cooled floors? What properties must an underlay display to withstand various loads such as heavy furniture, office chairs with castors or impact from objects? What is the minimum reduction in footstep sound that an underlay should offer?
The EPLF technical bulletin provides producers, suppliers, planners, tradespersons, the trade and potential end users with the information they need. It aims to make the "Laminate flooring system“ – i.e. the combination of flooring and underlay – even safer, better and more comfortable.
Finding the right combination
Dr. Theo Smet, Chairman of the EPLF's Technical Committee, hopes that the data sheet proves popular: "European manufacturers of laminate flooring supply high-quality products. Because laminate flooring is usually laid to be floating, the underlay materials form an important part of the flooring system and often provide sufficient grounds for complaint if the flooring is laid incorrectly. But that can be avoided. The right underlay optimises the entire laminate flooring system and extends its service life. This results in even more satisfied customers who enjoy their laminate flooring for even longer."
As a rule, the entire flooring system, i.e. the combination of laminate floor covering and underlay, needs to meet the user's requirements, whether it is fitted at home or in commercial areas. The structural characteristics of the building and the existing underfloor construction play just as important a role as how the flooring is used or the acoustic requirements.
Concrete minimum values and simple guidelines
The technical bulletin shows the common symbols used, explains what the technical abbreviations mean and lists the key technical data with which the performance and strength of an underlay can be assessed. This provides clear criteria for selecting the right underlay materials for floating laminate floors. Specific recommendations are provided on the basis of minimum values and values for more stringent requirements. "The more ...., the more ..." guidelines are highlighted in colour and provide practical help for the assessment.
Underlay is generally ≥ 2 mm thick. If flooring structures are thicker than this, doors and other features may have to be adapted accordingly. Generally the thicker the underlay, the softer it is. Sufficient mechanical stability and an appropriate CS (Compressive Strength) value should be ensured.
As Dr. Smet explains, some approaches have changed since earlier assessments: "In the past, properties such as thickness or density were often generalised in the quality assessment, for example, high density was associated with good mechanical properties or good sound impact behavior. But more recent analyses have found that this isn't always the case. For example, an underlay made from material A with a lower density may be considerably pressure-resistant than one made from material B with a much higher density. Such aspects are taken into account in the new CEN/TS 16354 through the selection of suitable test methods. And our technical bulletin is a good source of reference for the requirements this produces for the underlay materials.“
The free EPLF data sheet is available in German and English. Simply search for "Data Sheet on Underlay Materials" on the EPLF website to find and download the PDF file: http://eplf.com/en/laminate/infomaterial.html
The technical specification CEN/TS 16354 (Laminate floor coverings - Underlays - Specification, requirements and test methods) defines the test methods for determining the technical properties of underlay materials under laminate flooring. It provides information about dimensions, mechanical and thermal features, sound, fire and emissions properties, resistance to humidity and durability. It refers exclusively to loosely laid underlay materials and not to insulating materials integrated in laminate flooring.
elne1306_b1: The new EPLF data sheet "Underlay Materials under Laminate Floor Coverings - Test Standards and Performance Indicators" is a compact and free source of information. (Photo: EPLF)
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