One factor to consider when shopping for flooring is thickness. Thicker flooring--any kind, whether solid hardwood, luxury piank vinyl, or engineered wood--means reduced sound migration, better insulating properties, softer foot fall, and better bridging of subfloor imperfections.
And in the world of laminate flooring, thickness really counts--every little bit of it--because laminate is inherently thin.
The quest for thicker laminate flooring is a battle won in tiny increments: millimeters, to be exact. This is why 12 millimeter (mm) laminate flooring is so highly sought after.
No, 12 mm laminate is not the absolute thickest laminate you can buy. Instead, it is the thickest you can reasonably find in most retail markets at a fair price and it is a type of laminate you should consider if you're going for better quality flooring.
What 12 mm Means and Why It's Not Mils
The 12 millimeter (mm) measurement refers to the thickness of the planks. To visualize, imagine the thickness of a U.S. penny. A stack of 8 pennies is just a hair thicker than 12 mm.
At just a touch less than a half-inch thick (0.47 inches to be exact), this is pretty hefty stuff, at least within the world of laminates.
Another way to look at 12 mm laminate: it is about twice as thick as the rock-bottom cheap laminates that you buy for less than $1.00 per square foot.
This measurement does not include the thickness of any underlayment. Underlayment is the optional foam padding under the laminate planks. With some brands, such as Pergo Accolade, underlayment comes pre-attached.
One often confusing measurement listed in laminate flooring specifications is mils. A mil is one-thousandth of an inch and it refers to the extremely thin top photographic and wear layers.
How It Compares to Average Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring that is 12 mm thick represents the top end of laminate thicknesses. Thicker laminates (15mm and greater) are still not contenders.
Twelve millimeter laminate's market share has grown immensely in recent years, now capturing well over half of the laminate market.
|Thickness (mm)||Market Share (%)||Price Range (Per Sq. Ft.)|
|7||6||$0.59 to $1.49|
|8||24||$0.79 to $3.49|
|10||6||$1.39 to $1.69|
|12||61||$1.20 to $4.00|
|15||3||$1.39 to $1.89|
Pros and Cons of 12 mm Laminates
Twelve millimeter laminate is one of those no-brainer purchases--if money is no object. If you do have the extra money to spend and your floor can take the slightly increased overall height, there is no reason not to buy it.
To hammer home exactly why, consider these points:
- Stellar Sound Absorption: Because laminate flooring is so bad at absorbing both footfalls and ambient sound within a room, every little extra bit of thickness helps. It has nothing to do with wear quality, since the thickness of the wear layer on the 12 mm laminate is the same as conventional thicknesses.
- Resists Impact Better: Thicker base material means improved impact resistance. Sharp items and small appliances, for instance, that accidentally drop on 12 mm will have little effect on it.
- Deeper Embossing For More Realistic Looks: While the thicker laminate does not have a thicker wear layer, it does allow for deeper embossing. Embossing is the secret sauce that gives premium laminates their swanky good looks. Deep embossing means that wood grains and stone textures actually have some depth and can create shadow.
On the downside:
- Adjustment Factors: Thicker flooring--of any kind--means that you need to consider how it will fit in relation to the rest of the room. What is the transition like from room to room? Too much? Will doors clear it? What about radiators, heating vents, and millwork?
Manufacturers and Retailers
Nearly every top-line laminate flooring manufacturer and retailer offers 12 mm laminate.
These include: Formica, Alloc Elite, Artisan, Dream Home, Armstrong, Bruce, BuildDirect, and Lumber Liquidators.