When you plan your flooring purchase there are a number of things you'll want to factor in, and some can be easy to miss.Floors To Your Home specializes in good discount flooring, and we try to make it easy for you to see those discounts add up, free shipping, free padding, coupon discounts, sales tax for those not in Indiana or Kentucky, and anything else we are able to apply to your order to lower the cost. What you forget to order may also keep your initial costs down, but will also add some frustration, and possibly a pretty burdensome delay on getting your flooring installed. I can't go into the details on which specific items each particular choice of flooring will require, but I think that I can help you keep in mind the things to check on, to see if you do or don't need them with your particular flooring choice. We'll go by the main types of flooring we focus on. Laminate flooring being designed as a hardwood alternative, most of the accessories overlap, so we'll keep these two together.
Laminate and Hardwood Floors
A MOISTURE BARRIER is designed to do two things, one of which we want. It keeps moisture out, and it keeps moisture in. This means that there are times when you definitely want it, and times when you definitely don't. It is a must for any flooring being installed over a concrete subfloor, and over any floors which are directly above unfinished basements or crawlspaces. It keeps the moisture away in these cases, those situations being prone to moisture issues. A moisture barrier is not recommended for flooring installed from the second floor up, as in those cases it could trap moisture in place, rather than letting a floor breathe. We also don't use it for glue down hardwood floors (you would be gluing the floor to the moisture barrier rather than the subfloor to which it needs to be attached, you see). One thing to know is that when laminate flooring has attached pad, that attached pad never has a moisture barrier component, so even with attached padding, you may still need the moisture barrier.
One hardwood specific is paper underlayment serving as a moisture barrier. Many hardwood floors must be nailed down, and a paper type of barrier can handle this. Basic #15 roofing paper is the recommendation of The National Wood Flooring Association. Red Rosin paper is also frequently recommended, and may be easier to get ahold of. It has the
lightest moisture protection of moisture papers. Really, none of them are true moisture barriers anyway, as they are riddled with holes once the floor is installed.
BASIC PADDING, FELT OR FOAM, is a necessity for any laminate floor, and can be used with any floating floor. Padding keeps your laminate or hardwood from clacking against the subfloor beneath. It cushions the walk a bit, and can even bolster the room's insulation. Some laminate flooring comes with attached pad, and some doesn't. If it doesn't, then you need pad, either the very basic foam type, or the upgraded felt kind, which is usually thicker, provides a softer walk and really helps hold in, or out, the heat. Now if you have attached pad, you can still use additional padding if you want, but there are some rules of thumb. Under a click together laminate floor, you don't want more than 4 millimeters of pad, because if you have any more, there can actually be enough give that when you walk, you could disengage the locking mechanisms between planks. Attached pad is almost always 2mm thick, so you would only want to add up to 2mm more padding. On top of that, I would recommend caution if your flooring is on the thin side, closer to 7mm than 12mm. Of course, you'll check your manufacturer's data before doing any of this anyway, but I just want to give you the best tips to make your shopping the easiest that it can be. Remember too that attached padding does not have the moisture barrier component.Almost any floor will need TRIMS AND TRANSITIONS. These cover gaps between different floors where rooms meet, between the floor and a doorway, where the floor meets a wall, a fireplace, stairs, and things like that. There are a few basic types of trims cut for these different uses. Trims can come in the exact color of your flooring, as near matches, or unfinished, allowing you to choose the color or have a paint store match it. They can come in a high gloss, or a matte finish. The options are pretty wide, just don't forget to get them. Learn more about trims in our Resource Center, where you'll find helpful drawings like these (click to enlarge):
This video shows our installation kits until about 1:52 in...
For click together laminate flooring, look for a full INSTALLATION KIT, which should have three components, all needed, all specifically designed enough that it would be hard to find a reasonable facsimile at a home store. Your installation kit should come with spacers, little plastic pieces that will be used to maintain an even gap between the flooring and the walls to allow the floor to expand with the weather. It should include a tapping block, one part of which you can use to hold your flooring, and the other would be tapped (hit, really) with a mallet to get two planks to be snug with each other. The tapping block keeps you from hammering directly on the flooring, which could damage it. Finally you should have a pull bar, which also allows some grabbing and pulling of the planks in spots where it is hard for one to get one's body.
Finally, there may be a HARDWOOD ADHESIVE, used either to glue the flooring to the subfloor, or just to glue the locking mechanisms of the boards together as they are connected during installation. This used to exist for laminate flooring as well, and may still, but it has become very rare, as most laminates click together so well. With any flooring, it is likely that the manufacturer's adhesive is specially designed and tested for the flooring with which it goes, so try not to get stuck looking for an alternative at a home store.
These are the things specific enough that you should check into whether you need them while making your purchase. If you will be installing the flooring yourself, there will be some tools you may need, but those tend to be generic tools, and they should be very available to you at a hardware store. Your instructions will list those for you.
Like hardwood, if your vinyl flooring must be glued down, definitely, definitely make sure you get the right VINYL ADHESIVE, and the right amount, when you purchase the flooring. Installing a vinyl floor with glue can certainly be done by the homeowner, but you'll feel like you've shot yourself in the foot if you forget the glue, and have to order it after the floor has arrived, waiting even longer to finish your room.
All vinyl floors will need TRANSITIONS AND TRIMS just as the wood type floors do. Where some trim pieces for a laminate or hardwood could be interchangeable between the two floor types (could, not should be), this is not recommended for vinyl. Vinyl floors need vinyl flooring trims. That said, some of the the types are the same. There are T-Molds for laminate floors, hardwoods and for vinyl. Just make sure you order the proper type, and you'll be good. Unlike the wood floors, there will be no pad with a vinyl floor. It just isn't done.
Your installation tools, as with laminate and hardwood, are going to be available at a hardware or home store, and will be listed in your instructions.
Once again, here is your list, things to check for before you check out: Moisture barrier Padding Trims and transitions Adhesive (for hardwood or vinyl) Installation kit (for laminate)
Enjoy your shopping!
- - - - David is a Writer at Floors To Your Home (.com), as well as the PPC Manager, a Marketing Strategy Team member, a Researcher, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jitō. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, explore film history, mix music (as in 'play with Beatles multi-tracks') and write non-fiction for my friends. Connect with me on W. David Lichty's Google+
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