It's not about the wood.
It's about how it's made
—and who made it.

We build Laminated floor that last.

Maximum moisture protection

The worst enemy of wood is moisture…whatever the species used!

The key to a durable floor has nothing to do with the species used. In fact, what is most important is efficiently protecting the floor from excessive moisture. In the North American climate, the moisture content of wood exposed to outside conditions will vary from between 12% to 18%. Excessive moisture occurs when ill-conceived floor designs do not allow free water to drain out. When the moisture content of the wood reaches levels of between 25% to 30%, the strength, stiffness, and hardness decrease by 45% to 50%!

In the past 15 years, PROLAM has developed several features
to increase the moisture protection of wood trailer floors.

figure2First, the type of joints used in the trailer floor makes a huge difference in its resistance to moisture. PROLAM does not use traditional hook joints as other floor producers; leakage is way too common in floors with traditional hook joints (see pictures). Rather, PROLAM uses double-knuckle joints called Zig-Zag, which greatly reduce water leakage through the floor boards.  Furthermore, Zig-Zag joints are the tightest in the industry, using putty in less than 5% of all joints compared to 40 % and higher with the hook joints. This is ideal when it comes to protecting against water penetration.

Second, several fleet companies recently completed a survey and concluded that in the majority of cases, floor degradation occurs at the back of the trailer or near containers close to the rear doors where the floor is the most exposed to outside conditions. Whatever the wood species the floor is made of, when the wood moisture content of the laminated floor reaches 25% to 30% its strength, stiffness, and hardness is reduced by 45% to 50%  PROLAM has addressed this problem by developing WAXIN, a surface protection that greatly reduces weathering effects.

Finally, the part of the trailer that is most exposed to moisture is the bottom of the floor, especially over the front and the rear wheels. PROLAM has developed the most durable undercoat in the industry, P•u•R.
P•u•R is a thermoplastic hot-melt undercoat that can be applied to the entire bottom surface of the floor or locally, where required.

With PROLAM’s exclusive, WAXIN and PuR undercoating,
your laminated hardwood floor is the most water-resistant in the industry.

Relying solely on the wood species does not guarantee
that your wooden laminated floor will remain strong

figure1_oakFigure shows a laminated oak floor with severe fungus and wood rot.

Some other floor producers are making a lot of noise about the fact they are using only “oak’’ to produce their trailer floors. They claim that using “oak” will make their laminated floors more durable.

In terms of decay resistance, when people refer to the durability of “oak’’, they mainly refer to the characteristics specific to certain oak species but not to all oak species.

In fact, they are most often referring to species, such as white oak, live oak or other decay resistance oak species for underground applications! (Fence poles, railroad cross ties, etc.)

All laminated oak manufacturers use several oak species in their floors: in fact, more than 60% of laminated “oak’’ floors are fabricated using red oak species, such as southern and northern red oak, etc. There is nothing wrong with using these species to make laminated floors; they have the appropriate mechanical and physical properties, and have been used for decades in trailer floors. What is misleading for buyers and end users is that these oak floor producers said that these species have the same decay resistance as live oak or white oak—which is not true at all! In fact, the red oak species are in the same decay resistance category as the maples and birches. So, if the red oak species were good enough to be used for several decades to produce laminated floors for trailers or intermodale containers, then it must honestly be admitted, there is no problem using species like maples, birches and any other species which have similar mechanical and physical properties.

The bottom line

The entire issue of decay is much more about the floor design and moisture protection—and not the hardwood species choice. Decay is very rare and occurs when the moisture content of the wood reaches 30% (and higher) for a long period of time.

Remember, at this level of moisture, the floor’s strength, stiffness, and hardness
has been already reduced by 45% to 50%!

The end result

With the repetitive use of forklifts, the floor takes a major beating well before it will decay, regardless of the species used. So, to avoid future flooring problems, getting the right design to allow the water to drain out, avoiding bad habits like leaving rear doors open and getting the appropriate moisture protection are a lot more important factors than the choice of hardwood species.