FAQ: Laminate

Posted on Jan 1st 2010Comments ↓

  • What is laminate flooring?

    Laminate flooring planks are made of a few, basic layers. The bulk of the plank is called the core layer. The bottom layer of laminate is a firm stabilizing layer, and the top two layers are the photograph that displays the particular look you are after, and a transparent finishing layer on top of that, which protects the laminate from scratches, stains and moisture.

  • Can I install laminate flooring myself?

    Because of the prevalence of click together, floating floor installation systems, it is very possible that you could do a laminate flooring installation by yourself. It is not only likely to be very easy to do, but there is also a wealth of online information on how to install laminate flooring. All laminates come with installation instructions. We are producing an increasing number of videos demonstrating the click together systems and other installation issues, and there are plenty more out on the web.

  • Where can laminate flooring be installed?

    It can be installed over both concrete and wood, both above and below grade (ground level), and into almost any room in any home, but can laminates really go everywhere? Well no, not quite. If your basement regularly floods, you should avoid laminate, and it can never be installed outdoors.

  • Do I need padding or underlayment for my laminate flooring installation?

    You will need some kind of padding, or "underlayment", to go between your subfloor and your new laminate flooring. These help smooth the subfloor, keeping very minor imperfections in flatness from affecting your final floor, reducing walking sound, and protecting from moisture. Many laminates come with pad attached to the back. This can speed up an installation, unless you are installing below ground level.

    Below ground level & on concrete subfloors, a moisture barrier will be required, and attached padding does not include a moisture barrier. Now for those products which do not have pad attached, rolls of padding are available in a few different kinds, most of which do include the vapor barrier, so you only have one thing to roll out.

  • How do I clean my new laminate floor?

    Vacuum, using a machine without a beater bar. Use a vacuum cleaner with either a soft brush, or with a special wood flooring accessory. This may be done daily without hurting your floor.

    Dust mop with either an actual dust mop, or just using a dry, clean cloth.

    Remove footprints and dried up, tracked in mud with nothing more than a moist cloth. Soak it, wring it out, and hit your dirty spot. It's that simple.

    Do. Not. Wet mop.

  • Are laminate floors moisture resistant or waterproof, and what is the difference?

    Laminate floors are moisture resistant, but not waterproof. This means that they can actually handle a pretty big spill, but only for a while. You will want to wipe up any spills as soon as you can get to them. Don't let them sit for too long, or the liquid may eventually make its way into the gaps between your planks. Pay special attention to a pets' food and water area, as their liquid lapping will splatter water into little pockets of sitting water. That's an easy one to miss.

  • Is laminate flooring pet friendly?

    Laminate flooring is coated with an aluminum oxide wear layer. This coating is extremely durable and will prevent pets from scratching your new laminate floor. Aluminum oxide *may* be the second hardest substance on earth after diamonds. The fact that it's even arguable is still good news, we think.

  • How durable is laminate flooring?

    Unlike real wood, laminate flooring will not fade. Even direct sunlight over a long period of time will not dull the images. As a rule, all laminate is considered to be more durable than carpet, and most exceed the durability of hardwood floors as well. You can walk in high heels on some laminates, but can't on any hardwood floors. In areas with high foot traffic, especially by children or pets, or in commercial locations, laminate floors can be extremely impact, scratch and stain resistant. High durability laminate flooring is always going to be available.

    But you might have a room without those concerns. Here is where the variety becomes good for you. You might be able to get the look you want while spending even less money for a floor with less thickness, or a lower AC rating (a scale used to convey the durability of laminate flooring - higher AC ratings tend to come with more expensive floors).

  • Is laminate flooring hypoallergenic?

    The design and finishes on laminate floors leave no way for the planks to catch dust, pollen, pet dander or other allergens. Also, the underlayment required for all laminate floors creates a barrier, keeping moisture from damaging your floor, and preventing the growth of molds, spores and fungus.

  • What patterns or styles are available for laminate flooring?

    Because the appearance comes from a photograph, laminate flooring can look like almost anything. This includes not just wood in general, but also the expensive, exotic species of wood that may not even be available as a genuine hardwood choice due to the rarity of the trees or import issues. Choices can include attractive stone and tile looks without the cold hardness, or any worry about breaking or cracking a tile. With laminate flooring you can select from an almost endless variety of types, colors, plank sizes and surface styles, while you accommodate your durability needs.

  • What are Laminate "Seconds"?

    This is best answered on our blog post about Laminate Flooring Seconds.

  • Do you pull the spacers out at the end, or just hide them with the side boards?

    You pull the spacers out at the end. The gaps left between your flooring and your wall will be hidden under side boards and trims. The gaps around your floor allow it to slip further under your trims or pull back away as the floor expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity. You can see how this works in the first image on this Learning Center article about quarter rounds.

  • We must put 6ml plastic underneath the laminate flooring when installing to prevent moisture, correct?

    You only must if you are installing over concrete or over a crawl space. There you have to, and with other types of subfloors it is simply an option. You can, but do not have to. I mention that because most floor padding, felt or foam, for example, comes with an attached moisture barrier, and that won't hurt anything even if you don't need it.

    Here's a short video about moisture barriers that could also help!

  • Can my laminate 'floating floor' be glued down?

    This will be specific to each series of laminate, and something you would find in the installation instructions. We keep those online on every product's page. We generally don't advise it, because you should generally install a floor in the way it is designed to be done. Some manufacturers will advise putting glue along the top of the locking mechanisms if your laminate will be going into a moisture prone room. This can help keep any moisture up top, on the surface of the planks, and help keep it from getting down into the seams. Again, it is going to be specific to each floor you examine, so check the documentation we keep online, of feel free to call us or start a chat..

  • Is there anywhere that Laminate Flooring cannot go?

    Sort of, yes. It's not so much places as it is kinds of places. This Learning Center piece, appropriately titled Where can’t a laminate flooring go?, should tell you where and why.

  • Can you advise on all the materials I need to get started installing laminate flooring?

    We have a fully illustrated Learning Center post on Tools and Materials Will You Need to Install Laminate Flooring that should show you everything you need.

  • I only have the laminate floorings but not the material I think goes underneath. What can you tell me about floor pad?

    Yes, twice over! First, this first, short padding video should help you determine what you need based on the kind of subfloor you have, and the kind of laminate you bought.

    We also have a blog post about the appropriate thickness of padding for your situation, and why it matters.

  • Our basement flooded for the first time in years. We had carpeting and are changing to laminate flooring that looks like wood. Did we do the right thing?

    We don’t consider laminate flooring to be one of the best basement flooring alternatives because laminates aren’t good with water in general, let alone flooding. If flooding only happens every 25 years or so, this may not be a concern for you.

    In addition to the link above, we have this one, an article on Best Flooring For A Flooding-Prone Basement that might help you out.

  • I'm looking for Click Guard Laminate Sealant

    We carry the Click Guard! We send it free with our Kronoswiss Original products because that is the only product with which we know for sure it will work. We have tried it on other products we carry, but it is hit-or-miss with them, and sometimes it even causes damage to those different products. That's why we don't list it as an available item online, but we can still sell it on it's own for $15 per tube, and each tube covers 100 sq ft.

  • can laminated flooring be used in uncontrolled enviornment in Fl

    I'm not sure what it is you're not controlling. If it's temperature, probably not. Most floors come with temperature requirements, ranges within which they will stay under warranty. That doesn't mean they'll shrivel up or explode outside those ranges, but it does mean that your warranty would be void, and that things you don't like may well happen.

    For any product you look at, you should be able to check the specific documentation that comes with it before buying. We post ours on the products' pages. Check those before buying anything, so you can make sure that your situation will work with your materials.