Sunday, August 16, 2015


Laminate flooring is no more... in Canada at least. Maybe even in the United States. At Ikea.

Years ago, probably around 2007, I could find displays and even stock in the warehouse for laminate flooring, like SLATTEN and TUNDRA, at the local Ikea store I frequented. I would know because the opportunity to act as translator between a shopper and an Ikea Coworker arose in the flooring aisle -- oh, and we bought and installed some Ikea laminate way back when. But nowadays? Just before I wrote this, I searched for laminate, flooring, and SLATTEN on the Canada and United States websites: no relevant results. Probably been this way for at least a year.
A Sea of Ikea Laminate
It lives on?
For some reason, it appears that the decision was made to remove indoor laminated flooring from stores in Canada and the United States. Does it live on somewhere else? Looks like it. I've recently found SLATTEN and TUNDRA, at the minimum, on the Ikea websites for the United Kingdom, Spain, and Australia. Sí, los suelos laminados estan en España. They were probably available in other countries too, but I didn't check.

Products Available in the U.K.
Things have changed since we bought our flooring. Back then, the choice was probably between just SLATTEN and TUNDRA. The latter was more expensive than the former. Last I checked, the United Kingdom's Ikea website carried four options: SLATTEN, TUNDRA, PRARIE, and GOLV -- organized from cheapest to most expensive by price per square meter.

On the surface, I always thought that the price difference was due to the wood patterns available, similar to buying furniture in white versus birch veneer. Looking slightly closer, however, revealed a few more details.

Disclaimer: I had not had any firsthand experience with any laminate products, other than the one I helped install 5+ years ago, when I wrote this piece. Details were quoted from the Ikea United Kingdom website in the middle of August 2015. Details on this page are NOT guaranteed for accuracy.

Below is a summary of the general characteristics of the different product lines -- I didn't check every single product page. I think the dimensions are for individual boards. Common materials included, but were not limited to, fiberboard and melamine foil according to product descriptions.

Price:  £3.77 per square meter
Length x Width:  130 cm x 19 cm
Thickness:  6 mm

Price:  £7.00 per square meter
Length x Width:  138 cm x 19 cm
Thickness:  7 mm

Price:  £10.62 per square meter
Length x Width:  129 cm x 19 cm
Thickness:  7 mm

Price:  £15.00 per square meter
Length x Width:  138 cm x 19 cm
Thickness:  8 mm

*While products (i.e. different patterns) looked pretty consistent in terms of price and characteristics within product lines (e.g. TUNDRA, PRARIE), the GOLV line had some differences. Specifically, two GOLV products had different widths. One of these two was more expensive per square meter as well.
Setting something up on the Ikea Laminate Floor
What's the difference then?
Aside from the pattern, it seemed, the higher price from one line to the next appeared to be due to a difference in thickness of 1 mm or 2 mm. Otherwise, there was a seemingly minor difference in width or length. Was that it?

It took googling and stumbling upon an Ikea buying guide for laminate flooring to finally figure out what the real difference likely was. I found an older edition by googling, but a newer version was available on the United Kingdom Ikea website when I checked in 2015. It was located under Customer Relations > Buying Guides > Textiles > Laminate Flooring.

I found out that the different laminate lines were rated for different levels of wear or durability. They were apparently rated for an Abrasion Class (AC). Intuitively, it was shown in the document that, generally, the more expensive or thicker the floor, the higher the rating class. Check out the document to see a better explanation of the rating system and what each product received. Also, this document noted that GOLV floors had a significantly longer warranty than the other three floor products.

One final note, there was a different version of the buying guide on the Australia, Tasmania Ikea website. This one showed the SLATTEN flooring having a different rating. Warranty lengths were also different in this document. Product upgrade? Testing reclassification? No idea.

Final Thoughts
So, the main difference between the different laminate flooring lines appeared to be related to durability and pattern. What I'm curious about is if the difference in durability is due to build quality or as simple as having an extra millimeter or two of thickness. Doubt I'll find the answer to that soon. In the mean time, I'm still pretty happy with the Ikea laminate we installed more than 5 years ago.

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