Laminate hardwood flooring has come a long way over the last few decades. With features like click-and-lock technology and padding already attached to the boards, installing laminate floors has never been easier. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you undertake laying down a new floor. Follow our tips to ensure your next laminate installation is a success.
You’ve purchase your beautiful new laminate flooring and can’t wait to get it installed. We know you’re excited, but don’t break out the power tools just yet! Your flooring needs time to acclimate to where it will be installed, since there is a very good chance your home is a different temperature and humidity than wherever your flooring has been stored. Laminate flooring that is installed before it’s had a chance to acclimate will expand (if it was stored somewhere cooler) or contract (if it was stored somewhere warmer) leading to gaps or buckling.
Check with your specific brand’s instructions to be certain, but most laminate flooring needs 2-4 days to adjust to your home before installation.
A Properly Prepared Subfloor
Think of whatever surface you plan to install your laminate flooring over as its foundation; a problem with the foundation will result in a problem with the flooring. Laminate can be installed over concrete, wood subflooring, and even tile, but it is incredibly important that the surface it’s laid over be level. Using a level that is at least 6 feet long check your subfloor for variations greater than ¼” over a 10 foot span. If you have variations greater than a quarter inch, either sand down the wood subflooring or use a self-leveling compound on tile or concrete.
Laminate installed over concrete, especially in basements renovations, typically requires a moisture barrier to be installed first, as any dampness in the concrete may cause warping of the floor boards. Don’t forget to tape the seams of the moisture barrier as well to prevent water from coming in contact with the underside of your flooring. It is generally best to avoid installing laminate floors in any room in which they will be exposed to frequent humidity, like bathrooms or laundry rooms.
The First Row
The first row of laminate flooring you install is incredibly important as any awkwardly cut or positioned boards will result in a crooked floor. Use temporary spacers to keep floorboards an even distance from the wall or baseboards. Later, when the spacers are removed the gap between the floorboards and the wall will allow them to expand during warmer, humid months without buckling.
It is always a good idea to test your first row to check that the board you will cut down isn’t too short. As a general rule try not to have your cut board be less than 12” in length. Remaining cut lengths greater than 12” can be incorporated into future rows with board lengths staggered from row to row. Staggering the boards not only creates an appearance similar to hardwood floors, but it also makes for a sturdier floor.
Finishing Your Flooring Installation
As you finish installing your laminate floor you will need to remove the spacers you placed back when you began your first row. A pull bar and hammer will help you lock the final row firmly in place with the rest of the flooring.
Once your flooring is fully installed you will need to cover the gap between the floorboards and the trim with quarter round or shoe moulding. Because laminate wood is a floating floor, it is important that you don’t affix the moulding directly to the floor. Laminate flooring must be free to expand and contract, and attaching moulding directly to it will lead to gaps or buckling.
Your Laminate Flooring Project
While it may seem complicated, laminate is actually one of the simplest types of flooring to install in your home. With some patience and careful attention to the manufacturer’s installation instructions you should have a beautiful finished product with no more than a day or two’s worth of work.
Of course, if you’d like help with your next flooring project, an experienced team of professionals can complete an installation quickly and efficiently. M&D Home Repairs and Remodeling is proud to offer laminate floor installation to those living in the Northern Virginia area. Contact us today to get a quote on your next flooring project.