Laminate Installation Tips
Laminate flooring installs over just about any subfloor and locks together without nails or glue, making it a relatively easy product to install. They still require a lot of trimming and proper layout, so unless you are a relatively savvy carpenter, you should consider professional installation.
We help you every step of the way after you’ve selected your new floor: professional on-site measurement, removal of old flooring, and skilled installation. We do it all expertly, so your floor will look amazing and give lasting satisfaction.
The following covers the basic steps for installing laminates, which may help the comfortable do-it-yourselfer determine whether this is a job you want to tackle or leave to the pros.
Where to Install
Laminate floors are well suited for installation anywhere in your home except for very wet areas such as full baths. They may be installed over concrete or wood subfloors, above or below grade.
Store your flooring for at least two days in the room where you plan to install it to allow the flooring to adjust to the humidity and temperature in the room. This will help prevent problems arising from expansion and contraction after installation, such as cupping and gapping.
You want a problem-free installation and, to help ensure it, here’s a checklist of things to do before the installer arrives.
- Make sure you know who’s removing your existing flooring. If you wish, the installer will do it. If not, you should make arrangements to have it removed.
- Who’s moving the furniture? Decide in advance if you want to take on the responsibility or if you want the installer to handle it. Either way, be sure to remove all fragile items from the room.
- In general, your laminate should run parallel to windows or, in narrow rooms, to the longest wall.
- Measure door clearances before you have your laminate installed. If the new floor is thicker than your existing floor, door bottoms may rub. Plan in advance to have someone shave or saw the correct amount off the bottom of each door so it does not drag.
- Paint first. If you’re planning to paint, wallpaper, or do any other remodeling in the room, it’s best to do it before your laminate is installed. Keep extra paint to touch up any post-installation nicks.
To make your laminate look good now and for a long time to come, proper installation is critical. Here’s the procedure an experienced installation professional will follow:
- Current flooring: Laminate can be installed directly over some existing floors, but others will have to be removed first. Your professional installer will know the proper procedure, as well as how to make the floor level and smooth.
- Moisture testing: Your installer will check for moisture in the subfloor to prevent later problems with buckling or cupping.
- Installation: Using the appropriate tools, the installer will cut and place the planks or tiles, maintaining a gap around the floor’s perimeter to allow for expansion.
- Room shape: A professional will know how to handle any challenges caused by room irregularities and odd or tight spaces, like cabinetry or a kitchen island.
Subfloors must be clean, level, dry and structurally sound.
Trim and Prep the Room
Remove all baseboards and other moldings along the floor. Trim door jambs to allow the laminate planks to slide underneath. To cut the jambs, lay a piece of flooring against the trim and use it to mark your cutting line. Then cut the jamb along the line, parallel to the floor.
Install the Vapor Barrier
Install vapor barrier according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Lay the First Row
Lay the first row of laminate along the longest side of the room with the groove facing the wall. Place ½” spacers along the wall and push the plank up against them. This creates a gap to allow the floor to expand and contract after installation.
Lay the Floor
Install subsequent planks by laying them in place and using a scrap board to tap them together with a rubber mallet. Tap until the tongues and grooves are joined and no gap remains. Make sure to stagger the joints of the planks for the best appearance. This will require trimming at the ends of the room. Remember to use spacers along every wall.
Install the Final Plank
The final row of planks will have to be trimmed to fit. Remember to use spacers along this wall as well.
Install thresholds and base moldings to complete your installation.
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