When shopping for wooden flooring, you may have come across terms like “AC rating” and “wear layer” in product descriptions. These terms are essential factors to consider when evaluating the durability and performance of wooden flooring. In this blog post, we’ll decode these terms, explaining what they mean and how they impact your flooring choice.

What is an AC Rating?

AC stands for “Abrasion Class,” a standardized rating system that measures the durability and wear resistance of wooden flooring. The AC rating is determined through a series of tests that simulate foot traffic and assess the floor’s ability to withstand abrasion, impact, stains, and burns. The higher the AC rating, the more durable and resistant the wooden flooring is to wear and tear.

AC Rating Categories

There are five AC rating categories for wooden flooring:

  • AC1: Suitable for light residential use in low-traffic areas like bedrooms.
  • AC2: Designed for moderate residential use in medium-traffic areas like living rooms.
  • AC3: Ideal for heavy residential use and light commercial use in high-traffic areas like hallways and small offices.
  • AC4: Recommended for moderate commercial use in high-traffic areas like boutiques and busy offices.
  • AC5: Suitable for heavy commercial use in high-traffic public spaces like department stores and airports.

Choosing the Right AC Rating

When selecting wooden flooring, consider the intended use and traffic level of the space. For residential applications, an AC3 rating is often sufficient for most areas, while AC4 or AC5 may be necessary for high-traffic zones or commercial spaces. Keep in mind that higher AC ratings may come with a higher price tag, but they also offer increased durability and longevity.

What is a Wear Layer?

The wear layer is the top surface of wooden flooring that protects the design layer from wear and tear. It is a transparent, durable layer made of melamine resin or aluminum oxide, which resists scratches, stains, and fading. The thickness of the wear layer is a crucial factor in determining the overall durability and lifespan of wooden flooring.

Wear Layer Thickness Wear layer thickness is measured in mils (thousandths of an inch) and typically ranges from 6 mils to 20 mils or more. A thicker wear layer provides better protection against wear and tear, extending the life of your wooden flooring. Here’s a general guide to wear layer thickness:

  • 6-8 mils: Suitable for low-traffic residential areas like bedrooms.
  • 10-12 mils: Ideal for medium-traffic residential areas like living rooms.
  • 14-16 mils: Recommended for high-traffic residential and light commercial areas.
  • 18-20+ mils: Designed for high-traffic commercial spaces and heavy-duty residential use.

Impact of Wear Layer on Lifespan

The wear layer thickness directly impacts the lifespan of your wooden flooring. A thicker wear layer not only provides better protection against daily wear and tear but also allows for more refinishing options in the future. While wooden flooring cannot be sanded and refinished like hardwood, a thicker wear layer can be refinished using screening and recoating techniques, extending the life of your floors.

Balancing AC Rating and Wear Layer

When choosing wooden flooring, consider both the AC rating and wear layer thickness to ensure the best performance and longevity for your specific application. A high AC rating combined with a thick wear layer offers the most durability and resistance to wear and tear, making it an ideal choice for high-traffic areas and commercial spaces.


Understanding AC ratings and wear layers is key to making an informed decision when selecting wooden flooring. By choosing the appropriate AC rating for your intended use and traffic level, and opting for a wear layer thickness that provides adequate protection, you can ensure that your wooden floors will look beautiful and perform well for years to come. Remember to balance your durability needs with your budget, as higher AC ratings and thicker wear layers may come at a higher cost. With this knowledge in hand, you can confidently navigate the world of wooden flooring and find the perfect product for your space.