Laminate Thickness Guide
You’re shopping for laminate and have to choose:
How thick of laminate boards do I need?
You see options of 7mm, 8mm, 10mm, 12mm and maybe more. But it’s hard to imagine how big a millimeter even is, and can a few millimeters make a difference?
The price suggests it can. With each increase in millimeters, the price also goes up.
This article will take you 5 minutes to read, but you’ll get all your laminate thickness questions answered:
- does the thickness of laminate matter?
- how thick of flooring do I need?
- comparison of different laminate thicknesses
But before I answer those questions, let’s make sure we’re on the same page…
What is laminate thickness?
Laminate thickness is defined by the base of the board to the top of the board. This thickness is measured in millimeters. The confusing part is some laminate boards come with the pad attached. This should not be included in laminate thickness.
Captain’s warning! When talking about laminate thickness, the padding is not included because it’s not part of the construction of the board. Unfortunately, it’s not unheard of for sales people or materials to try to mislead customers by telling you the thickness including the pad. If your laminate has pad attached, make sure they specify that the thickness is without the pad.
Does thickness of laminate matter?
Laminate thickness is more important to the aesthetics–look and feel–than it is the durability of the laminate. But it does still affect the durability, it’s just not the most important factor. Here are the advantages of thicker laminate:
- feels more like hardwood underfoot
- more detailed designs can be etched in
- quieter with less echoing
- greater thickness = more impact resistant
- installation is more forgiving because thicker laminate can hide subfloor imperfections
Notice that durability isn’t directly an advantage of a thicker laminate. I say directly because impact resistant and more forgiving in installation can have some impact on how durable your floor is.
The last point is important because one of the biggest issues with laminate is how level the floor beneath it is. If there are imperfections, the laminate installation can come apart over time.
How thick should laminate flooring be?
Laminate flooring is between 6-12mm thick. If you find thicker than 12mm, it’s an inaccurate measurement–possibly including attached padding. If you want the highest-quality, hardwood feel, you’ll want 10 or 12mm. If cost is a concern and you have a smooth subfloor, you can get by with 7 or 8mm.
So are there any advantages to thinner laminate?
Well… cost. And cost shouldn’t be downplayed. Just like you wouldn’t buy the most expensive t-bone steak to chop up and throw into fajitas, there are also many cases where you don’t have to buy the thickest laminate.
So when is it worth paying? You need to know the value you get in one thickness vs the others.
Captain’s silence! You’ll notice that I included 6mm in the range of thickness, but that’s the only time you’ll hear about it in this article. There’s good reason: 6mm isn’t worth mentioning. It’s not available often, and when it is, there’s no point in purchasing it unless you’re wanting to put down the cheapest laminate possible without any care about quality.
Comparison of different thicknesses of laminate
Comparing different thicknesses of laminate will guide you to what you need in your home. Let’s start with the thinnest and work our way up.
Is 7mm laminate flooring any good?
7mm is the “bottom of the barrel” laminate flooring, but let’s say you find an excellent price on it. Is it worth buying?
I discussed earlier that thickness isn’t the biggest factor in durability. It’s possible that a manufacturer could make a highly-durable 7mm laminate. The problem is they won’t.
And I can’t blame them. We talked earlier about thin laminate looking and sounding cheap. If manufacturers made 7mm durable, they’d create a floor that is isn’t cheap (because it’s well-made) but looks cheap. There’s not too much of a market for that.
Is 8mm laminate good enough?
So if 7mm are poor quality, what about 8mm? I like 8mm in some cases because it’s the starting point where manufacturers start to take thing seriously. In other words, you can find high-quality laminate in 8mm. But remember the drawbacks we talked about with thinner laminate earlier? You’ll still have those with 8mm.
8mm vs 10mm
The 2mm different between 8mm vs 10mm doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a 25% increase in material. So what performance differences will you notice?
The 8mm can be just as durable as the 10mm. But if you installed both, you might notice the 8mm is louder and feels more like plastic instead of wood underfoot. If the subfloor isn’t perfectly level, the 8mm laminate installation will split easier and more quickly.
In other words, remember all the advantages we talked about with thicker laminate earlier? They are usually noticeable with an 8mm vs 10mm laminate floor.
10mm vs 12mm
What about 10mm vs 12mm?
It’s still a 2mm gap (just like 8 vs 10), but I don’t think the performance gap is as big here. The reason is diminishing returns: 10mm laminate is where you start to eliminate many of the performance problems with thin laminate. You can make arguments that 12mm is more impact resistant and forgiving on installation. But I think in most cases where you have problems with a 10mm laminate installation, you’ll also have the same problem with a 12mm laminate.
But there are still advantages to going a step thicker:
The biggest difference between 10mm and 12mm is aesthetic. 12mm laminates sport some of the coolest designs and are the closest looking and feeling to hardwood.
Captain’s parting words!
Thickness is one of a few big decision you’ll make buying laminate. Thicker laminate makes installation more forgiving (especially important for DIY’ers!). And while thickness isn’t the biggest factor in durability, it’s a big factor in the “feel” of the laminate.
I think the sweet spot for most people is 10mm, but there are exceptions. 12mm laminate is the go-to for people who want the closest thing to hardwood. And for the bargain hunters, you can find some high-quality 8mm laminate floors.
The pro way to buy laminate is to not know the exact thickness you want. Educate yourself on how to buy laminate, and you learn the combination of specifications is more important than any one number.
The perfect combination of thickness and other durability factors will get you a laminate that lasts at a great price!