Tough Enough: Assessing Durability in Commercial Floor Coverings

HomePast Projects Tough Enough: Assessing Durability in Commercial Floor Coverings

How Tough Is Your Commercial Floor? Learn How to Determine Durability

When you look for a commercial floor covering, you need something that is durable and reliable. But since all of the commercial flooring covering companies you visit will tell you their product can get the job done, it can be difficult to know which of option is right for you.


At Floor Coverings International, we give you the tools you need to determine for yourself which commercial floor coverings are tough enough for your business. Whether you’re looking for hardwood, laminate, or vinyl floor coverings, our guide will help you decide which floor is right for you.  

Commercial Hardwood Flooring

When looking at commercial floor covering options for hardwood flooring, you’ll want to look for the Janka rating. The Janka rating comes from the Janka hardness test, which is used as one indicator for how durable the wood is.


Janka ratings can vary dramatically depending on the species of wood. Hickory, for instance, has a Janka rating of 1,820, while soft maple and cherry have a Janka rating of 950. Aspen, one of the softest hardwoods available, has a Janka rating of just 350.


What to Look for When Choosing a Hardwood Commercial Floor Covering:

It’s important to note that the hardness of the wood is just one factor that affects durability. Other factors, such as foot traffic and maintenance, will affect how well the floor holds up. Typically, a Janka rating over 1,000 is recommended for standard hardwood flooring. The best thing to do is consult a flooring expert when selecting a hardwood commercial floor covering to find the right one for you.

Commercial Laminate Flooring

When assessing the durability of a laminate floor, commercial floor covering companies will use the Abrasion Class or “AC” rating. Developed by the European Producers of Laminate Flooring, it is the industry standard for determining laminate flooring durability.


Using the AC rating is fairly straightforward. The higher the AC rating is, the more durable the floor is. Most commercial floor covering companies use a scale of AC1 to AC5, with AC5 being the most durable. Below is a quick guide to the AC rating system:

  • AC1: Designed for light residential use. Optimal for bedrooms, closets, and other light-traffic areas.
  • AC2: Designed for general residential use. Moderate traffic areas such as living rooms and dining rooms are ideal for AC2 grade laminate flooring.
  • AC3: Acceptable for any residential use, including high-traffic areas in the home. It is also acceptable for commercial settings with light traffic such as private offices.  
  • AC4: Meant for general commercial use. It is optimal for most commercial spaces with moderate to high levels of traffic.
  • AC5: Designed for heavy commercial use. This is found in places such as public buildings and department stores.

What to Look for When Choosing a Laminate Commercial Floor Covering:

We recommend choosing a laminate commercial floor covering with a rating of AC3 or higher. In most cases, AC4 will be optimal, with AC5 reserved for more heavily trafficked areas. Some manufacturers have recently developed an AC6 rating for very heavy commercial use, although most commercial floor covering companies stay within the AC1-AC5 range.

Commercial Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl leads the “resilient flooring” category as one of the most popular commercial floor covering options available. Unlike hardwood or laminate flooring, there is no Janka or “AC” rating for commercial vinyl floor coverings. Instead, you’ll want to look at the wear layer when determining if a vinyl floor is durable enough for your business. Wear layers are tested using several metrics, including puncture resistance, impact resistance, and flexibility.


The thickness of the wear layer is directly related to its durability. Most of the time, thickness is measured in mil, which is one thousandth of an inch (not to be confused with millimeters.) The World Floor Covering Association lists three kinds of wear layers for vinyl flooring. The three categories are:

  • Vinyl No-Wax: A wear layer consisting of a clear top-layer coating. It is the least durable wear layer.
  • Urethane-Coated Finish: A wear layer that offers greater durability. It protects well against stains and wear and tear.
  • Enhanced Coatings: Wear layers that are enhanced versions of urethane-coated finishes, such as wear layer with an additional aluminum oxide coating. Enhanced coatings are the most durable wear layers for commercial vinyl floor coverings.

What to Look for When Choosing a Vinyl Commercial Floor Covering:

Look for a wear layer with a thickness of 28 mil or more for commercial use. Some manufacturers will also provide the thickness of the entire vinyl plank, which is a completely different measurement and not related to durability. Be sure to ask for the thickness of the wear layer when making your decision. With respect to the finish, urethane-coated finishes or enhanced coatings are ideal for commercial vinyl floor coverings.  


Whether you want hardwood, laminate, or vinyl, this guide will help you determine which commercial floor covering options are tough enough to get the job done. To get more information about commercial floor coverings or to schedule a FREE design consultation, contact Floor Coverings International today.