Whether you’re interested in purchasing hardwood, luxury vinyl, or linoleum, thickness is an important specification homeowners should be aware of. It’s also something that can have a dramatic impact on certain types of surfaces, including laminate flooring. In this guide, we’re going to discuss why thickness is important with laminate, and what to be aware of before deciding on a size.
How thick is Laminate Flooring?
Most laminate is designed to resemble hardwood flooring. Despite their resemblance, while you can refinish thick solid hardwood flooring, that’s not the case with laminate, regardless of how realistic it may appear. It’s a multi-layered type of flooring, and the total sum of the layers can be confusing when it comes to thickness.
The first thing to keep in mind is that some manufacturers can be a bit loose when discussing the thickness of their products. That’s due in part to the core of laminate flooring which is usually made from high or medium-density fiberboard. The core is one of the most important parts in the construction of laminate flooring, so manufacturers tend to highlight it as a feature.
It’s not unusual for a company to highlight the thickness of the core of laminate flooring, which can lead to confusion with listings online. The core is only one layer, and the total thickness should take into account the entire product including the wear layer, core, and backing layer. Our researchers found that 90% of the laminate flooring sold on the market today comes in four sizes.
With a few exceptions, most laminate sold in the United States comes in one of four thicknesses which are measured in millimeters. The thinnest is also the most budget-friendly with 7mm laminate, which is followed by laminate flooring that measures 8mm thick. While there’s no standard 9mm laminate flooring, there are two thicker sizes.
The thickest flooring commonly available in this class is 12mm laminate. The next step down is 10mm, which is considered a nice middle ground by most homeowners. All these sizes are rated at AC3 for residential use or AC4 which covers residential and medium commercial foot traffic. Depending on the brand, the thickness may or may not include underlayment although you typically find separate measurements for the two.
Advantages of installing thick laminate flooring
Whenever we cover a type of flooring like engineered hardwood or tile, we always weigh the pros against the cons. There are always advantages and disadvantages that may affect your buying decision, but with thicker flooring, things are different as there are only a handful of negatives.
While you still have to stay within the manufacturers’ limits, thicker laminate floor boards are better at spanning uneven subfloor. They also provide a bit more insulation between the subfloor and your feet, which can be important in the colder months.
Thicker laminate boards even “sound” different underfoot compared to thinner laminate. Your footfalls will not sound quite so hollow which cuts down on noise. That's a bonus, but many homeowners and professionals also feel it can be easier to install as well.
One of the best places to use 12mm and 10mm laminate flooring are in upstairs areas. Installing thicker laminate flooring can help cut back on noise to the downstairs. A few millimeters can make a difference, especially when you factor in a nice solid layer of underlayment.
Thicker flooring may be heavier, but thes planks provide more structural stability and are less prone to chipping when being properly cut than thinner material. If you have high-traffic areas in your home, you’ll want to use 10mm or 12mm laminate flooring compared to thinner material.
On the downside, the thicker the material, the more expensive it will be. It’s minimal considering the budget-friendly nature of laminate but can still impact the total cost. With that in mind, using 7mm laminate will certainly be cheaper, although you have to keep the subfloor in mind along with the height of the previous flooring in your home.
8mm laminate is a nice compromise if 10mm is too expensive or thick and 7mm feels a bit too flimsy. It’s the best all-around option for almost any room in your home, and can help alleviate issues with height caused by using thicker laminate. Choosing a laminate that’s too thick can cause problems around doorways and lead to awkward transitions when switching from laminate to tile, LVP, or hardwood.
The Cost of Thicker Laminate Flooring
The most significant drawback of using thicker laminate is the price. While that could be a major problem with solid hardwood or engineered products, that’s not necessarily the case with laminate. Branding plays a part in price along with the style and the flooring’s ability to withstand water.
We found that the most popular thickness is 10mm where retailers are concerned. Laminate that is 12mm and 8mm is easy to find as well, while 7mm laminate is the least prevalent through major outlets like Home Depot and Lowes. It’s also the cheapest, however, with a range of $0.79 to $1.50 per square foot.
For the thickest laminate of 12mm, you can expect to pay between $4.60 to $3.50 per square foot for high-end brands. That includes Pergo’s waterproof laminate flooring, but things get cheaper when you consider store brands like Home Decorators and HydroSheild. Most of these are $2.99 to $1.99 and then you have budget-friendly 12mm planks in the $1.60 range.
While 2mm thinner, we found the price difference for 10mm laminate to be insignificant with some brands. Pergo starts at around $3.19 per square foot if you want water-resistant laminate while traditional laminate flooring can be found for as low as $1.89. 8mm flooring comes out to around .20 to .60 cents cheaper on average.
We hope our guide helps to shed a little light on the thickness of laminate flooring, and why it’s something that needs to be considered before choosing flooring for your home. While you can use 7mm or 12mm laminate flooring anywhere in your home, thicker flooring is better for noise reduction or durability in high-traffic areas. It’s also important to remember that why thickness matters, quality is even more critical so choose your new laminate flooring brand carefully.