Saturday, 7 October 2017

History of APA, Plywood, and Engineered Wood

History of APA, Plywood, and Engineered Wood

Plywood trademark stampAPA – The Engineered Wood Association is the nonprofit trade association of the U.S. and Canadian engineered wood products industry. Based in Tacoma, Washington, the Association is comprised of and represents manufacturers of structural plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), cross-laminated timber, glued laminated (glulam) timber, wood I-joists, and laminated veneer lumber (LVL). (See the glossary backgrounder for explanation of these products.)
APA was founded in 1933 as the Douglas Fir Plywood Association to advance the interests of the burgeoning Pacific Northwest plywood industry. Adhesive and technology improvements eventually led to the manufacture of structural plywood from Southern pine and other species, and in 1964 the Association changed its name to American Plywood Association (APA) to reflect the national scope of its growing membership.
The Association’s membership expanded again in the early 1980s with the introduction of oriented strand board (OSB), a product the Association helped bring to market through development of new panel performance standards. A decade later, APA accommodated manufacturers of non-panel engineered wood products, such as glulam timber, wood I-joists and laminated veneer lumber.
To better reflect the broadening product mix and geographic range of its membership, the Association changed its name again in 1994 to APA – The Engineered Wood Association. The acronym “APA” was retained in the name because it was so widely known and respected in the marketplace.

History of Plywood


Ancient Origins of Plywood
Archeologists have found traces of laminated wood in the tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs. A thousand years ago, the Chinese shaved wood and glued it together for use in furniture. The English and French are reported to have worked wood on the general principle of plywood in the 17th and 18th centuries. And historians credit Czarist Russia for having made forms of plywood prior to the 20th century as well. Early modern-era plywood was typically made from decorative hardwoods and most commonly used in the manufacture of household items, such as cabinets, chests, desk tops and doors. Construction plywood made from softwood species did not appear on the scene until the 20th century.
Plywood Patented, Then Forgotten
The first patent for what could be called plywood was issued December 26, 1865, to John K. Mayo of New York City. A re-issue of that patent, dated August 18, 1868, described Mayo’s development as follows: “The invention consists in cementing or otherwise fastening together a number of these scales of sheets, with the grain of the successive pieces, or some of them, running crosswise or diversely from that of the others…” Mayo may have had a vision, but apparently not much business sense, since history does not record that he ever capitalized on his patents.
Men standing on plywood1905: An Industry is Born
In 1905, the city of Portland, Oregon was getting ready to host a World’s Fair as part of the 100th anniversary celebration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Several local businesses were asked to prepare exhibits for the event, including Portland Manufacturing Company, a small wooden box factory in the St. Johns district of the city. Part owner and plant manager Gustav Carlson decided to laminate wood panels from a variety of Pacific Northwest softwoods. Using paint brushes as glue spreaders and house jacks as presses, several panels were laid up for display. Called “3-ply veneer work,” the product created considerable interest among fairgoers, including several door, cabinet and trunk manufacturers who then placed orders. By 1907, Portland Manufacturing had installed an automatic glue spreader and a sectional hand press. Production soared to 420 panels a day. And an industry was born.
From Doors to Running Boards: The First Plywood Markets
During its first 15 years the softwood plywood industry relied primarily on a single market—door panels. But in 1920, “super salesman” Gus Bartells of Elliott Bay Plywood in Seattle began generating customers in the automobile industry. Bartells had earlier established the first plywood dealerships around the country, and was equally successful in getting car manufacturers to use plywood for running boards. The market took off and the industry enjoyed steady growth during the Jazz Age. By 1929, there were 17 plywood mills in the Pacific Northwest and production reached a record 358 million square feet (3/8-inch basis).
Dr. James NevinA Technological Breakthrough: Waterproof Adhesive
Lack of a waterproof adhesive that would make plywood suitable for exterior exposure eventually led automobile manufacturers to switch from plywood to more durable metal running boards. A breakthrough came in 1934 when Dr. James Nevin, a chemist at Harbor Plywood Corporation in Aberdeen, Washington, finally developed a fully waterproof adhesive. This technology advancement had the potential to open up significant new markets. But the industry remained fragmented. Product quality and grading systems varied widely from mill to mill. Individual companies didn’t have the technical or in most cases marketing resources to research, develop and promote new uses for plywood. The industry looked for help from its newly formed trade association, the Douglas Fir Plywood Association.
Founding of the Douglas Fir Plywood Association
Several failed attempts to establish a plywood association were made in the early years of the industry. Finally, on May 17, 1933, several fir plywood manufacturers met at the old Portland Hotel to discuss the advisability of adopting certain trade practices before the industry would be forced to do so under the Depression-era National Recovery Act. The act was later declared unconstitutional but for a time put pressure on the plywood industry to organize. A month of negotiations followed and on June 13, 1933, the Douglas Fir Plywood Association held its first regular meeting at the Winthrop Hotel in Tacoma, Washington. The new association struggled until, in 1938, it hired a legendary business development guru, W. E. “Diff” Difford.
Standardization and Improved Quality Testing Boost Sales
The Douglas Fir Plywood Association was among the first to take advantage of a 1938 law that permitted registration of industrywide trademarks, which allowed plywood to be promoted as a standardized commodity rather than by individual brand names. That same year, FHA accepted exterior plywood, based in part on a new Commercial Standard that included performance tests for both interior and exterior plywood. These developments helped clear the way for more successful promotion of plywood’s benefits to the construction industry. “Dri-Bilt With Plywood” became a familiar advertising slogan. More than a million low-cost Dri-Bilt homes were constructed featuring DFPA-trademarked PlyScord subfloors and sheathing, PlyWall ceilings and walls, PlyPanel built-ins, and PlyShield siding. In 1940, the association sponsored “The House in the Sun,” the first of many plywood demonstration houses. Plywood’s growing reputation as a strong and durable construction material was soon put to the extreme test by war.
Plywood boats during the warPlywood Goes to War
World War II was a proving ground for plywood. The product was declared an essential war material and production and distribution came under strict controls. The industry’s war-time mills—by this time numbering about 30—produced between 1.2 and 1.8 billion square feet annually. Plywood barracks sprung up everywhere. The Navy patrolled the Pacific in plywood PT boats. The Air Force flew reconnaissance missions in plywood gliders. And the Army crossed the Rhine River in plywood assault boats. There were thousands of war accessories made of plywood—from crating for machinery parts, to huts for the famed Seabees in the South Pacific, to lifeboats on hundreds of ships that kept supply lines open in the Atlantic and Pacific.
The Post-War Boom
With the war ended, the industry geared up to meet growing demand in the booming post-war economy. In 1944, the industry’s 30 mills produced 1.4 billion square feet of plywood. By 1954, the industry had grown to 101 mills and production approached 4 billion square feet. That same year, the Stanford Research Institute predicted that demand for plywood would rise to 7 billion feet by 1975—21 years into the future. Although some were skeptical, production rocketed to 7.8 billion feet in just five years, and by 1975 U.S. production alone exceeded 16 billion square feet, more than double the forecast.
Plywood Goes North
With its rich forest resources, it was only natural that Canada should join what eventually would become a truly North American plywood industry. The first Canadian plywood was produced in 1913 at Fraser Mills, New Westminster, British Columbia, but it wasn’t until 1935 that a second mill was opened—by the H.R. MacMillan Company. In 1950, five Canadian companies founded the Plywood Manufacturers Association of British Columbia (PMBC), which eventually evolved into the present-day Canadian Plywood Association (CANPLY). The Canadian Standards Association published the first Canadian Plywood Standard in 1953 based on specifications developed by PMBC.
The Rise of Southern Pine
For more than a half century the softwood plywood industry was located exclusively in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia using the region’s vast supply of Douglas fir. Until mid-century, it was not known how to effectively glue together veneer from softwood species grown in other regions. But research and development efforts changed that in the late 1950s and early 60s, and in 1964 Georgia-Pacific Corporation opened the first southern pine plywood mill, in Fordyce, Arkansas. The Douglas Fir Plywood Association changed its name that same year to reflect the fact that the plywood industry was now national in scope. Today, some two-thirds of all U.S. plywood is produced in the South.
Plywood millTechnology Marches On
Plywood is often called the original engineered wood product because it was one of the first to be made by bonding together cut or refashioned pieces of wood to form a larger and integral composite unit stronger and stiffer than the sum of its parts. Cross-laminating layers of wood veneer actually improve upon the inherent structural advantages of wood by distributing along-the-grain strength of wood in both directions. This idea of “reconstituting” wood fiber to produce better-than-wood building materials has led in more recent times to a technological revolution and the rise of a whole new engineered wood products industry. In the late 1970s and early 80s, for example, the plywood principle gave rise to what today is a worldwide oriented strand board, or OSB, industry. Instead of solid sheets of veneer, OSB is made of small wood strands that are glued together in cross-laminated layers. Other engineered wood products today include wood I-joists, glued laminated timber, laminated veneer lumber, and oriented strand lumber. These products not only yield superior performance properties, but also make better use of precious forest resources. And it all began with plywood.

History of Glulam

Glulam was first used in Europe in the early 1890s. A 1901 patent from Switzerland signaled the true beginning of glued laminated timber construction. One of the first glulam structures erected in the US was a research laboratory at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin. The structure was erected in 1934 and is still in service today.
A significant development in the glulam industry was the introduction of fully water-resistant phenol-resorcinol adhesives in 1942. This allowed glulam to be used in exposed exterior environments without concern of glueline degradation.
The first US manufacturing standard for glulam was Commercial Standard CS253-63, which was published by the Department of Commerce in 1963. The most recent standard is ANSI/AITC Standard A190.1-02, which took effect in 2002.

Wood I-joists and Rim Board®

Originally commercialized by the Trus Joist Corporation (now a Weyerhaeuser company) in the 1960s, engineered wood I-joists owe their beginning, at least in part, to a publication developed by the Douglas Fir Plywood Association, (the precursor to APA – The Engineered Wood Association) in 1959 entitled DFPA Specification BB-8, Design of Plywood Beams. This specification, later published as Plywood Design Specification Supplement 2, Design and Fabrication of Glued Plywood-Lumber Beams, outlined the original design procedures that ultimately provided the basis for current design recommendations.
The first universally recognized standard for wood I-joists was, and still is, ASTM D5055, Standard Specification for Establishing and Monitoring Structural Capacities of Prefabricated Wood I-Joists. This consensus standard provides guidelines for the evaluation of mechanical properties, physical properties, and quality of wood I-joists and is the current common testing standard for I-joists. However, since ASTM D5055 does not specify required levels of performance, individual manufacturers of I-joists generally have their own proprietary company standards that govern the everyday production practice for their products. As the history of other building materials such as plywood and oriented strand board (OSB) has shown, some degree of standardization of the industry is inevitable. Also inevitable is that along with standardization will come greater manufacturing efficiencies and greater use in construction.
To fill this need for standard performance levels, APA, in conjunction with several I-joist manufacturers, has developed performance-based standards for performance-rated wood I-joist products. The first such APA performance standard is for the use of wood I-joists in residential floors, designated as PRI-400, although roof tables and details have also been developed for the PRI-400 joists. It should be noted that this is a voluntary standard and not all I-joist manufacturers have chosen to produce PRI-400 products.

Common FAQs about Laminate flooring

Common FAQs about laminate flooring

What You Always Wanted to Know...
Simply click on FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) and you will find the most important questions on laminate flooring answered. If you should find that your question is not answered here it probably means your question is rather more specialized, in which case we would request that you contact your dealer or manufacturer.

Is it called lam­i­nate or lam­i­nate floor­ing?
The proper name is laminate flooring. The word laminate (from the Latin lamina, meaning a thin layer) literally means layers that are pressed together. Although laminates are used in different areas such as the furniture industry, the word laminate in everyday language generally refers to laminate flooring.
How can I tell the qual­ity of a lam­i­nate floor?
When buying laminate flooring, always make sure that the wear class in accordance with European standard EN 13329 and the CE marking are shown on the packaging. These symbols indicate a high quality standard and that the laminate flooring has undergone thorough testing to determine suitability for everyday use. The EPLF’s logo “Quality and innovation made in Europe” is another indicator of tested quality. 
The CE marking = security: 
This is a widely-recognised product marking complying with EU law, created to protect end users in Europe. The corresponding ruling ensures that a product may only be launched onto the market if it complies with the provisions of all applicable EU directives. As far as laminate flooring is concerned, strict requirements are set mainly for emissions/fire behaviour and slip resistance.
Wear classes = quality: 
In compliance with European standard EN 13329, laminate flooring marketetd in Europe must be labelled with protected symbols known as wear classes. These give information on the load bearing capacity, indicating in what areas a specific type of flooring is recommended for use. Products undergo continuous standardised testing to check that they conform to this standard and to ensure high quality and reliability.
Wear classes
How is lam­i­nate floor­ing laid?
The most important thing to consider in laying laminate flooring is the nature of the subfloor on which it is being laid. Is it even enough and sufficiently dry? For screed floors a vapour barrier will be required. This prevents any residual moisture from the subfloor forcing its way upwards. A PE sheet, for example, designed for the purpose and available from dealers and retailers, is ideally suitable as a vapour barrier. In addition, you will also require a separating layer in order to reduce footstep sound. Laminate flooring can be laid not just on screed floors, however, but on existing old floors as well such as, e.g. wood, stone, ceramic, plastic, or similar. It is imperative, however, that you comply with the specific information and specifications of the manufacturer when doing so!
Modern laminate flooring with click systems makes it far easier to lay a laminate floor these days. First, set out two to three lines of the panels. The first panel in a line should be at least 40 cm long. Insert wedges to make sure you have the required gap of 10 mm to the wall. Then calculate what is the best way of accommodating the width of the room. The panels in the last line should not be less than 5 cm in width, i.e. it may be necessary to shorten the panels in the first line. Then click all the panels together until you have laid the whole floor. If the laminate floor exceeds eight to ten meters in either width or length you will need to insert an expansion joint. Once the floor has been completely laid you can then fit the skirtings, which are either screwed in place or snap-fitted depending on the system.
Can lam­i­nate floor­ing be laid on car­pets?
According to the information supplied by manufacturers, carpets do not form a suitable base because the pile layer in the carpet gives way excessively under load. The joints in click systems, in particular, can be subjected to extreme loads. It is advisable to contact the manufacturer of the laminate flooring in each case for advice
Can lam­i­nate floor­ing be laid on tiles?
If the tile surface is suitably even and meets the requirements for laminate flooring in terms of the subfloor (see above) then it is in principle possible. Any unevenness or variations in height in the tile surface can be evened out with an insulation mat. Contact with your manufacturer to check on your specific case
Can lam­i­nate floor­ing be laid on floors with un­der­floor heat­ing?
Laminate flooring can also be laid on a hot water underfloor heating system if it is installed correctly. The laminate flooring offers good resistance to heat transmission and permits the hot water underfloor heating system to be run highly efficiently. The insulation mat, however, must be the right type for the underfloor heating system – it is imperative that the resistance to heat transmission is not too high.
For electric underfloor heating systems it is essential that you first check the suitability of the laminate flooring for the system. The maximum surface temperature of the laminate flooring when laid must never be permitted to exceed 26 degrees Celsius since this may lead to unsightly swelling of joints and arching. It is therefore essential that you check with your manufacturer first. As a general rule, technical advice should always be sought before laying laminate flooring on electric underfloor heating.
Does lam­i­nate floor­ing have to be laid in a cer­tain di­rec­tion?
The overall visual appearance of the laminate flooring created by the individual panels is dependent on the direction in which they are laid in the room relative to the incidence of light and the main direction from which they are viewed. The direction of laying can influence the subjective appreciation of the size of the room, i.e. perceived space. It is therefore advisable to ensure that the direction of laying and incidence of light are identical when laying the floor.
How big should the edge/ex­pan­sion joints be?
The total area of laminate flooring elements can change with changes in climate. It is therefore imperative that you allow for edge joints of at least 10 mm or more in accordance with the manufacturer's/supplier's specifications and subject to the area involved.
There must always be a gap between the total floor unit created out of the individual laminate flooring elements and all fixed building components around it (walls, door frames, supply lines, pillars, etc.), i.e. an edge joint which provides sufficient leeway for the laminate flooring to move without coming into contact with those fixed building components.
The lam­i­nate floor­ing arches. What can be done?
If the laminated flooring becomes undulated (arches) this will generally be because the floor does not have enough room to move at one or more points in the room. This is normally the result of a laying error, e.g. lack of or inadequate expansion joints. If you are good at DIY you can proceed as follows, otherwise you should contact your floor layer.
  1. Remove all skirtings (including the connecting rails) and check that there is a gap between the laminate floor and the walls all round. 
  2. If there is a door stopper, check that this does not press the laminate floor down and that there is sufficient space all around the screw holding the stopper in place – a hole is always drilled through the laminate floor (approx. 20 mm) and the stopper then fixed to the screed floor. 
  3. Check all heating pipes where these run through the laminate floor and the screed floor. The laminate flooring needs space to move here as well. 
  4. Never screw any parts (e.g. feet for radiators) directly on the laminate floor to connect with the screed floor. 
  5. If the laminate floor has been laid flush to a section of wall, cut away approx. 1 cm with a shadow gap saw. Other parts must be reworked by hand with a sharp firmer chisel. 
  6. Once the laminate floor has been "freed up" at all points it should normally flatten out again within one or two days. 
  7. As a general rule it is important that you act quickly otherwise there is a risk of permanent damage to the floor.

Is an un­der­lay nec­es­sary for a lam­i­nate floor?
The laminate boards, the underlay and the subfloor should be viewed together as a “complete floor system”. Even a high-quality laminate floor can only demonstrate its merits if the underlay functions properly as part of the flooring system.
Because it forms the interface between the laminate floor and the subfloor, an underlay has important functions to fulfil, i.e. ensuring that an installation can be carried out professionally by levelling out localised unevenness of the subfloor and thus reducing the stress on the boards where they are connected via the click method.
Underlay gives the overall flooring system permanent protection against the everyday demands of being walked on or the impact of falling objects, as well as against long-term wear caused by heavy furniture. It can also act as an effective barrier against residual rising damp. And finally, the right kind of underlay will enhance the properties of the laminate floor in terms of soundproofing and thermal requirements.  
It is not uncommon for unsuitable underlays or installation errors to become a cause for complaint at a later stage. Choosing the right underlay will extend the life of a laminate floor system and optimise its overall performance.
Why is a vapour bar­rier al­ways nec­es­sary?
Manufacturers always recommend the use of a vapour barrier (PE sheet or an insulation layer with aluminium coating) to protect the laminate flooring from rising damp coming from the subfloor. This is particularly important for rooms without cellars and in new buildings.
Is it pos­si­ble to re­place sin­gle floor pan­els?
Professionals can replace badly damaged flooring elements so well that it is not possible to tell the difference visually within the floor as a whole. Special suction units are available for lifting (suctioning) the individual panels up and out of the floor, after which the new panel can then be inserted. For repairing areas of minor damage on the floor, companies offer their own repair kits.
What is lam­i­nate floor­ing made of?
Laminate flooring is over 80% wood: Wood fibres, sometimes wood chips, pulp derived from wood (paper). Wood derivatives can be found in all three layers of the laminate floor: 1 Decorative paper + overlay (wear layer), 2 core layer, 3 stabilizing layer. With the exception of the core layer each of these layers is impregnated with synthetic resin (e.g. melamine resin). These are pressed onto the core layer at high pressure and high temperature. Coverings made of synthetic resin have been used for decades in the production of kitchen and laboratory furniture, office furnishing and shopfitting. The materials are of a high-quality, are non-wearing, food-safe and are outstanding when it comes to care and cleaning.
Laminate floors have a sealed surface which is impenetrable to dust or dirt. This makes them extremely hygienic, easy to maintain and particularly suitable for allergy sufferers.
EU-certified laminate floors are predominantly manufactured from renewable raw materials and are completely free from plasticisers. The main components of the boards are wood fibres and pulp sourced from wood in the form of top-quality special paper. 
They carry recognised seals of approval verifying the sustainable origin of the wood pulp used. To protect human health and the environment, all material components are guaranteed to comply with REACH, the rigorous EU European Chemicals Regulation. 
Wood is classed as a renewable resource – an environmentally-friendly and sustainable product that can even be recycled.
How it is Made
Does lam­i­nate floor­ing emit formalde­hyde? Is it harm­ful to the en­vi­ron­ment?
Like all wood-based products laminate flooring also contains the substance formaldehyde, which can be found in the natural environment and is also produced by the human body, and which can be emitted to the indoor air retroactively. The amount of possible emissions, however, is absolutely minimal and falls within the range of "normal background levels“ in room air, according to a report by the Fraunhofer Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut für Holzforschung (WKI) Braunschweig. This is comparable with emission levels from natural wood and is well below the legally permissible limit of 0.1 ppm (i.e. 0.12 mg/m³ of air), the so-called E1 value. Against this background, therefore, laminate flooring is suitable for use without reservation even in sensitive areas such as children's rooms and kindergartens, according to the WKI.
WKI Environmental Report
What is the cor­rect way to dis­pose of lam­i­nate floor­ing and can it be re­cy­cled?
Disposal is no problem whatsoever. Pieces left over from laying and any other individual pieces can be disposed of along with normal household waste. Where complete floors are taken up, however, these should be taken directly to the waste disposal site. Since laminate flooring is composed of over 80 percent wood, it can be burnt without reservation just like other wood-based products. Thanks to new technologies it is now also possible to recycle laminate flooring. Reduced to chips or fibres, 85 percent of the mass of a laminate flooring product can be returned to the production process. As culture substrates they can even be used in agriculture and landscaping.
What kinds of dec­o­ra­tive cov­er­ings does lam­i­nate floor­ing come with?
Laminate flooring is available with a wide diversity of decorative coverings. Wood reproduction decorative coverings are highly popular, as are reproduction stone and tile decorative coverings. Everything is possible. Be it beech, oak, elm, alder, cherry, walnut or teak – virtually every type of wood can be faithfully reproduced with available printing methods. And the decorative coverings on laminate flooring come closer to their models in nature all the time: One can almost "feel" the structure of the wood on a laminate flooring board. For stone and tiles there is a choice of, e.g. marble, graphite, slate or travertine, and stone decorative coverings are now more authentic than ever – with or without joints. In addition to wood and stone/tiles there are also a wide range of individual fantasy decorative coverings available too.
Is lam­i­nate floor­ing hy­gienic?
Thanks to its sealed surface laminate flooring is extremely hygienic. The surface coating, which is made of a particularly hard material (melamine resin), prevents dirt and bacteria from penetrating the floor. However, laminate flooring is not just hygienic it is also extremely hard-wearing. You can even stub out a cigarette on laminate flooring without damaging the surface. The wear resistance of the floor is one of the reasons why it is a popular choice for commercial schemes as well, and in retail outlets, fitness studios, etc. But these qualities are also an advantage in the home, e.g. for the stairwell or in children's rooms.
18 What does laminate flooring cost?
The price of laminate floors can range from around €8 - €40 per m², but as with any product, the maxim here is “You get what you pay for.” Put simply, the better the quality of the floor, the higher the price. A laminate floor with integrated footfall sound insulation and hydrophobic edge treatment (special edge protection against the ingress of moisture) will definitely come at a price, whereas a straightforward laminate floor without these extra features will be much less expensive. However, you should beware of cheap products! Often these do not meet even the minimum stndards and requirements laid down in laminate flooring standard EN 13329.
What does lam­i­nate floor­ing cost?
Laminate flooring is offered in a wide range of prices. As for all products the maxim is "You get what you pay for“. In other words, the better the quality of the floor and the technical equipment, the higher the price. A laminate flooring product with integrated footstep sound insulation and edge water repellent finishing (special edge protection against moisture penetration) will certainly be more expensive than a simpler laminate flooring product without such additional features. However, be careful of cheap products! Make sure to check if they meet the minimum standards as set out in the EN 13329 standard on laminate flooring.
How do I find out which is the right lam­i­nate floor for my ap­pli­ca­tion?
First, consider where the floor is to be laid! Is the laminate flooring to be laid in the bedroom, in the living room or in the stairwell? It goes without saying that the floor in the stairwell will be exposed to more use than in the bedroom, for example. To take this into account, the EN 13329 standard on laminate flooring specified so-called load and traffic categories. 
The wear class shown on the product packaging provides information on how resilient your laminate floor is. Wear classes 21-23 are intended for home use, whilst wear classes 31-34 are suitable for heavily frequented commercial areas. So the higher the wear class, the heavier the loading the floor can withstand.
For the home there are three load and traffic categories: 21 = moderate (e.g. bedrooms), 22 = normal (e.g. living rooms), 23 = heavy (e.g. stairwells). These categories are indicated on the packaging in the form of pictograms. Look out for them when you buy!
How do I find out which is the right lam­i­nate floor for my ap­pli­ca­tion?
First, consider where the floor is to be laid! Is the laminate flooring to be laid in the bedroom, in the living room or in the stairwell? It goes without saying that the floor in the stairwell will be exposed to more use than in the bedroom, for example. To take this into account, the EN 13329 standard on laminate flooring specified so-called load and traffic categories. 
The wear class shown on the product packaging provides information on how resilient your laminate floor is. Wear classes 21-23 are intended for home use, whilst wear classes 31-34 are suitable for heavily frequented commercial areas. So the higher the wear class, the heavier the loading the floor can withstand.
For the home there are three load and traffic categories: 21 = moderate (e.g. bedrooms), 22 = normal (e.g. living rooms), 23 = heavy (e.g. stairwells). These categories are indicated on the packaging in the form of pictograms. Look out for them when you buy!
How do I care for my lam­i­nate floor­ing?
You can remove dust and dirt quickly and reliably with a brush or a vacuum cleaner suitable for hard floors. Wipe with a very slightly damp cloth from time to time, i.e. wring the cloth out thoroughly first. Take care to ensure that no water penetrates the joints! Since the core layer of the laminate flooring is made of wood, water will cause unsightly swelling of the joints. The most suitable cleaner to be added to the water used for wiping over is laminate flooring cleaner available form most retailers. Caution! Never use floor wax or polish! They do not adhere to the resin-impregnated surface of the laminate flooring and will cause unsightly marks, streaks and lines.
Data Sheet on Cleaning
What is an EPD and what sig­nif­i­cance does it have for lam­i­nate floors?
One of the impressive features of laminate flooring is its excellent life cycle assessment with extremely positive values for primary energy consumption and global warming potential.  It also excels when it comes to indoor air quality assessment. Proof of this can be seen in evidence-based EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations). EPDs provide a strong argument in favour of laminate floors for anyone looking to choose a new floor with environmental impact and sustainability in mind, whether for private or public/commercial use. 
EPDs are assigned by the IBU (German Institute for Construction and the Environment) in Berlin and are used mainly by architects and planners as key fundamental documents for sustainable building. Technical advances in the field of laminate products make it necessary to update EPDs on a regular basis. 
What they entail: EPDs document the ecological characteristics of building products, thereby creating reliable underlying data for the ecological assessment of buildings in accordance with DIN EN 15978 (Sustainability of construction work - Assessment of environmental performance of buildings - Calculation method).  Environmental Product Declarations contain statements on the use of energy and resources, plus the extent to which a product contributes (under certain circumstances) to the greenhouse effect, acidification, overfertilisation, destruction of the ozone layer and smog formation. They also include information about the technical properties necessary for assessing the performance of the construction product in the building – such as its life span, thermal and sound insulation or the impact on the quality of indoor air.
In 2009, the EPLF was one of the first associations in the floor covering industry to kick-start the development of EPD Environmental Declarations, thereby paving the way to increased transparency and product security for the end user. In accordance with ISO 14025, there have been internationally-valid EPD templates since then for the products made by EPLF group members. 

Laminate flooring sales 2016

Market Statistics

EPLF total sales 2016

The EPLF® publishes annual statistics - generally issued in time for the Domotex in January - on
total sales for the previous year. 
These data reported by the ordinary members (producers) are collected on a quarterly basis 
and summed up at the end of the year. The Association publishes the following information only, 
all other information being confidential and intended for Association members only.
elnd1702_b1.jpgLaminate flooring market shows positive trend for 2016 - 

Total sales of 477 million m² – Strong positive growth in Asia and USA

In 2016, producers belonging to the EPLF reported worldwide sales of 477 million m2 of 
laminate flooring manufactured in Europe (2015: 452 million m2). This equates to an increase 
of 5.6% when compared to the same period in the previous year. The EPLF’s “home market” of 
Western Europe remained broadly stable during 2016. Both North America and Asia once again 
registered significant, double-digit growth rates in 2016, and in Eastern Europe, impressive
increases were predominantly seen in the relatively large markets such as Russia, Poland 
and Rumania. EPLF laminate flooring sales in South America remained broadly stable in 2016. 

elnd1702_b2.jpg

2016 sales in Western Europe

Sales in Western Europe (including Turkey) in 2016 reached the figure of 
250 million m2 (2015: 254 million m²), which represents a slight decrease of 1.5% compared to the previous year. With 63 million m² sold (2015: 66 million m²), a decrease of 3.6%, 
Germany remains by far the most important single market in Central Europe. 
France remained stable in 2016 with 37 million m² (previous year: 37 million m²) and continues
to occupy second place in Europe. The United Kingdom continued its positive upward trend for EPLF members: in 2016, it registered sales of 33 million m² (prev. year 31 million m²), an increase of 
nearly 8%. This puts it in third place ahead of Turkey, where turnover for Association members
slumped again in 2016: laminate sales fell there by approx. 15% down to 27 million m²
(previous year: 31 million m²). The Netherlands can lay claim to fifth place with
over 19.3 million m² (previous year 19.1 million m²). Spain follows on behind with 
nearly 17 million m² (prev. year 15 million m²), an increase of 8.7%. 
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2016 sales in Eastern Europe

Once again, considerably more EPLF laminate was sold in Eastern Europe in 2016 than in the 
previous year – at 126 million m² (prev. year 111 million m²), European laminate floor producers 
in that area achieved an increase of 13.4%. Since 2015, the Association has been aware of approx. 
20 million m² of products made by our EPLF members in Russia that have not, for various reasons, 
been captured in the statistics. In 2016, Russian members of the EPLF reported sales of nearly 
34 million m² (prev. year 29 million m²), which means they achieve a growth rate of 16.7%. 
Poland registered nearly 31 million m² in 2016 (previous year: 28 million m²), a rise of 8.6%.
 An equally positive trend was seen in Romania with 13.6 million m² (prev. year 11.1 million m²). Subsequent places in the ranking are occupied by Ukraine with 6.2 million m² (previous year 
4.7 million m²) together with Hungary and Bulgaria at 5 million m² each.
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2016 sales in North America

In North America, the EPLF’s series of successes in European laminate flooring continues for the 
fourth year in a row: with 47 million m² in 2016 (prev. year: 39 million m²), this region once again 
managed to increase its growth rate, with 22.6% more sales than in the previous year. The USA demonstrated an increase of 18% in 2016 with 29 million m² (previous year 25 million m²) and, 
during the same period, Canada achieved an increase of 30% with 18 million m² 
(prev. year: 14 million m²). 

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2016 sales in Asia

The situation looks similarly positive in Asia-Pacific, where EPLF producers reached total sales of 
around 27 million m² for 2016 (prev. year 17 million m²), thereby gaining an increase over the 
previous year of around 54%. However, it is necessary here to take into account the effect of 
statistical analysis, because the EPLF country list has been extended, which means that some 
countries that previously fell in the category “Other Countries” have been identified during the 
reporting year 2016 and have been allocated to Asia – Kazakhstan, for example (with 2.8 million m²), Uzbekistan (with 0.8 million m²), Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan (each with 0.7 million m²). The largest
 growth in Asia in 2016 was accounted for by the Chinese market including Hong Kong; sales there 
came to 8.6 million m² (prev. year 5.6 million m²), which equates to a rise of 53% compared to the 
previous year. Israel reached 2.4 million m² (prev. year 2.5 million m2), the figure for Saudi Arabia 
was 2.7 million m² (prev. year 2.8 million m2) and for Taiwan it was 1.6 million m2 
(prev. year 1.5 million m2). 
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2016 sales in Latin America

Latin America remained broadly stable in 2016 with 17 million m² (prev. year: 17 million m²). 
The sales figures in the largest single market of Chile rose by 7.5% in comparison with the previous 
year at 7.3 million m² (prev. year 6.8 million m²). Mexico recorded 4.3 million m² 
(prev. year: 4.5 million m²), Columbia registered 1.5 million m² (prev. year: 2 million m²)
and Argentina’s figures went down to 1.4 million m² (prev. year: 1.8 million m²). 

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