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NY N009674

May 11, 2007



TARIFF NO.: 4411.13.2000

Ms. Donna L. Bade, Esq.
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A.
225 W. Washington Street
Suite 1550
Chicago, IL 60606

RE: The tariff classification of Laminate Flooring (fiberboard – MDF) from Belgium, China, Spain and Germany

Dear Ms. Bade:

Your letter dated April 10, 2007 is a supplemental submission in response to our request for additional information in regard to a tariff classification ruling application that you filed on January 24, 2007 on behalf of Armstrong World Industries, Inc.

The subject laminate flooring consists of a fiberboard substrate that has been laminated on one surface with a resin impregnated decorative printed paper (décor paper) and a resin impregnated top overlay paper (wear layer). The other surface has been laminated with a resin saturated paper to create a moisture barrier and serve as a balancing material. You state that the laminate flooring will be imported in various sizes and with a thickness range of 6 mm to 12 mm, although the most typical is 8 mm. In addition, Armstrong’s laminate flooring typically has a density range of 850kg/m3 to 900 kg/m3 prior to the addition of any paper layers. Two samples with a thickness of 7 and 8 mm were submitted. This ruling will only address the classification of these two samples.

You have submitted a step-by-step information on the manufacturing process of the laminate flooring. The following is a summary of the basic manufacturing process of the subject product:

The logs are debarked and fed into a chipper. The chips are passed through a defibrator to break the chips down to wood fibers. The fibers are partially dried via air transport to the glue application chambers. The wood fibers are spray-coated with urea formaldehyde glue and paraffin wax. The fibers are air dried prior to mat formation. The coated fibers are laid up on a fiber belt. The mat is pre-pressed to remove air and create an interfiber bond strong enough to allow the mat to pass into the continuous board press. In the continuous press, the mat is slowly compacted under high heat and pressure to the nominal finished thickness. It is during this time in the continuous press that the resins are melted and the fibers are fused together, creating the interfiber bond. Upon exit from the continuous press the board is cut to the nominal width and length. The panels are sanded on both sides in preparation for lamination with papers that have been impregnated with an aminoplastic thermosetting resin. On a laminating press line, the fiberboard panels are directly pressed and laminated with the resin impregnated papers under high heat and pressure. In the industry, this lamination is known as the Direct Pressed and Laminated process (DPL). The boards are cut to the required strip or plank flooring sizes. The strips or planks are fed into a profiling line where the locking tongue and groove edge profiles are cut creating the finished laminate flooring panels.

The manufacturing process of the fiberboard is of particular importance to the classification of the laminate flooring under heading 4411, HTSUS, specifically, in the determination if the fiberboard is a Medium Density Fiberboard (“MDF”). The mixing of fibers and resin and the use of dry fibers are distinguishing characteristics of MDF.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level (for the 4 digit headings and the 6 digit subheadings) and facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and General Rules of Interpretation. While neither legally binding nor dispositive of classification issues, the EN provide commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127-28 (Aug. 23, 1989).

The ENs to heading 44.11 state as follows:

The categories of fibreboard of this heading can be distinguished according to their production process and they include:

Fibreboard obtained by the .dry production process.

This group includes, in particular, medium density fibreboard (MDF), which is manufactured in a process in which additional thermosetting resins are added to the dried wood fibres in order to assist the bonding process in the press. The density generally ranges from 0.45 g/cm³ to 1 g/cm³. In the unworked state it has two smooth surfaces. It can be used in many different applications such as furniture, interior decoration and in building.

Medium density fibreboard of a density exceeding 0.8 g/cm³ is sometimes also referred to by the trade as “high density fibreboard (HDF)”.

The subject laminate flooring is 7 and 8 mm thick and consists of a substrate of fiberboard with a density of 850 to 900 kg/m3 prior to the addition of any paper layers. The fiberboard is formed in a dry process with the addition of a resin in an amount (as stated in your letter) adequate to provide the primary bond between fibers and form a solid panel. Thus, the subject laminate flooring is a Medium Density Fiberboard as provided for under heading 4411, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, (HTSUS).

The applicable subheading for the subject laminate flooring in 7 and 8 mm thickness will be 4411.13.2000, HTSUS, which provides for medium density fiberboard (MDF), of a thickness exceeding 5 mm but not exceeding 9 mm, other, tongued, grooved or rabbetted continuously along any of its edges and dedicated for use in the construction of walls, ceilings or other parts of buildings, laminated boards bonded in whole or in part, or impregnated, with synthetic resins. The rate of duty will be 1.9 cents per kilogram plus 1.5 percent ad valorem.

Duty rates are provided for your convenience and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on World Wide Web at http://www.usitc.gov/tata/hts/.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Paul Garretto at 646-733-3035.


Robert B. Swierupski

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