This article is not a step-by-step guide to installing laminate floors, however it contains valuable tips that will help you avoid mistakes. Your laminate floor will come with installation instructions, read them carefully. You can also find a number of how-to videos on youtube.com about installing laminate floors.
Laminate floors are floating floors. A floating floor is not fixed to the subfloor below. Laminate floors use a click and lock system to fit together and no adhesive is required which makes the floor easy to install for a DIY enthusiast. Skill level required: intermediate.
- 1) Purchase a laminate install kit. This kit will contain the necessary tools required to install your floor. The kit will typically contain: spacers, block of rubber, sliding tool. You will also need an electric saw to cut the boards to fit.
This and other laminate flooring install kits are available from Home Depot. Click here to purchase.
- 2) Prepare the subfloor: Start off by preparing the area in which you plan on installing your laminate floors, by sweeping and inspecting the floor for undulations or protrusions. Your floor does not have to be perfectly flat, however it must be close to flat. If you install a laminate floor over an uneven floor, the floor will move when walked upon and this will result in squeaking boards and eventually the locking mechanism will separate and may even break.
- 3) Uneven subfloor: Do not install laminate flooring on an uneven subfloor. If your subfloor has undulations, purchase a bag of self levelling concrete. Apply to the floor and leave over night to dry.
- 4) Acclimate the floor: Prior to installing the floor, place the open boxes of laminate in the room for 24 hours. This will ensure that the boards acclimate to the current room temperature and moisture level.
- 5) Beware of hammering: The click systems are designed to slide and then lock into place without the use of much force. If you use a tool to hammer the boards into place, you might damage the locking mechanism if you apply to much force. If the boards are not sliding and locking into place easily, you should change your angle of approach. If you find that the boards are still not locking, then use a block of rubber, at least 1 1/2 inch think, place it against the board and hammer gently.
- 6) Wet areas: When installing laminate flooring in wet areas, ensure that the laminate you purchase has water resistant tongue and grooves. Many laminate manufacturers use some form of water repellent on the joint mechanism, usually an impregnated paraffin wax or silicone. It is a good idea to use adhesive in the tongue and groove of the boards within a two foot radius of wet areas i.e sinks and baths. The adhesive adds additional water proofing. This can be done on glueless laminate floors for extra protection.
- 7) Stagger the boards: The ends of the boards should not line up from row to row. By staggering the boards you will get a more natural look as well as a stronger floor. Start the first row with a half length board and then the next row with a full length board and alternate accordingly for each row.
- 8) Expansion gap: Always leave an expansion gap of 3/8' (10mm), or as specified by manufacturer, between the wall an the floor around the entire perimeter of the floor, including where the floor meets with moldings. Laminate flooring is porous and will expand and contact subject to environmental conditions. If you do not leave an expansion gap then the floor will buckle when the temperature or moisture level rises. It is a good idea to use spacers, available at your local hardware store, during the installation to ensure that your gap is consistent. Most laminate flooring issues arise to due insufficient expansion gaps.
- 9) Trims and moldings: Do not fix the moldings to the laminate floor, this includes any form of gluing or nailing. Most moldings come with a u-track which much be fixed to the subfloor. The molding is then placed in the u-track. Always leave an expansion gap between the laminate floor and molding.
- 10) Furniture: Place furniture feet pads on all furniture legs. When brining the furniture into the room after the floor is installed, do not slide the furniture across the floor, instead lift and put in place.
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