Q: Is there any kind of laminate floor rating agency or list of laminate floor ratings?
A: You’re more apt to find an objective rating system with older, more established types of building products than you are with laminate flooring. Laminate flooring is still a fairly new industry and, as such, there are no true rating systems in place.
NALFA – What About Them?
NALFA stands for the North American Laminate Flooring Association, and is the closest thing you will find to a laminate floor rating system. But be careful here. This is like the fox watching the chicken coop.
NALFA is simply an industry-supported group that has no objective take on laminate flooring rating. The manufacturers police themselves.
Given the fact that there is so much bad laminate flooring on the market–and I mean outright illegal bootleg laminate from lovely places like China–it really is a good idea to make sure that your laminate product is certified.
In all fairness, this is not much different than anything else in the building materials industry. Face it, this is not like the Fed supervising federal banks or anything. It’s a loosely run industry with moderate standards.
You can sum up NALFA in one sentence from their website: ‘…the NALFA seal sells.’ NALFA’s ratings are about selling, not about protecting consumers.
NALFA Laminate Rating – Better Than Nothing
Still, NALFA’s ratings are not complete bullshit. If a laminate flooring manufacturer wants their product to get the NALFA seal they must face, what the NALFA site calls, “a rigorous and demanding series of tests designed to evaluate its performance, durability, strength, and overall quality.”
To their credit, NALFA is transparent about the details of these tests (Laminate Flooring Specifications and Test Methods 2008), which must be performed by an independent laboratory. Some of the things covered in the tests are:
- Static load
- Thickness swell
- Light resistance
And many other categories.
Now, this may be an ass-backwards way of looking at it, but NALFA-rated companies do tend to look pretty good. We have companies like:
And on and on. So, at least from that angle, the better laminate flooring manufacturers are gravitating towards NALFA. Social proof in action? I suppose so, but I believe it.