Kids and Pets! How Long Will my Wood Laminate Flooring Last?

I have an active household with young children and pets. Will wood laminate flooring handle the heavy wear and tear?
Yes, provided you install a good quality wood laminate floor.
Today, reputable laminate manufacturers must submit their flooring to the European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF) for rigorous testing. The EPLF is an independent organization which aims to set standards for the laminate flooring industry. Floors submitted to the EPLF go through a series of tests that evaluates a laminates resistance to stress and is then given a rating code according to its performance. They test the floor for resistance to scratches, burns, fading, stains and impact. If the floor fails any of these categories, then it is not certified.

Pergo – Coastal Pine Wood Laminate flooring

Pergo – Highland Hickory Wood Laminate Flooring

The following is the AC rating guide and this will assist you in determining if a floor is suitable for your specific needs.
AC 1: 21 (Residential, Moderate traffic: Suitable for bedrooms or guest rooms)
AC 2: 22 (Residential, General traffic: Suitable for living rooms and dining rooms)
AC 3: 23 (Residential, Heavy Traffic: Suitable for all areas)
AC 3: 31 (Commercial, Moderate traffic: Suitable for hotel rooms, small offices)
AC 4: 32 (Commercial, General traffic: Office, restaurant, boutique, café)
AC 5: 33 (Commercial, Heavy traffic: Public buildings, department stores)

Although AC1 is rated for moderate traffic and suited to bedrooms, if you have young active kids you are better off going with an AC2 rating for their bedrooms and play room. Small pets will not have much impact on your floor. However larger dogs can scratch the laminate surface. If you have large dogs at home, it is advisable to get a better quality laminate that meets a minimum of an AC2 rating. However, AC3 would be optimum.
North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA)is the US equivalent of the EPLF. NALFA is the organization that sets the standards for laminate flooring in the USA. NALFA is a non-profit organization, and its members are unpaid volunteers. Laminates submitted to NALFA undergo a range of stringent tests. If the laminate floor meets or exceeds NALFA standards, it will earn the right to display the NALFA seal of approval. Note that submission of laminate flooring to NALFA is voluntary. The following laminates carry the NALFA seal of approval: Clarion Laminates, Columbia Flooring, Kronotex USA, Mohawk, Quick-Step, SHaw, TORLYS, Pergo, Mannington Mills. A complete list of NALFA approved laminate flooring brands can be found at the NALFA website.
The combination of kids and pets results in constant heavy traffic in the main living areas, and it is advisable to purchase a wood laminate flooring with an AC3 rating. Although these floors are more expensive, they will stand the test of time and still look good after many years of heavy use.
If you have an active household, stay away from floors that do not have an EPLF certification as chances are these floors are not good quality and would not pass the EPLF test.