Laminate Flooring: Three Installation Methods
Laminate flooring comes in three installation types, but two of these have become very uncommon. There are laminates which require glue to be applied to the tongue and groove, the locking mechanisms, of each plank as they are installed. This secures the planks to each other, so these are very strong floors when finished, but installation can be expensive. There are also those with a water resistant glue already on the tongue. At installation it is activated by being moistened (with nothing more than a wet sponge) and locks the planks. Either of these might be difficult enough to encourage you to hire an installer, but neither is prevalent in the market.
The standard has become the click together system, also called a “tongue and groove” system. These are generic ways to describe the many different brand names of locking systems, all of which are quite similar in how you do them. More than two thirds of all laminate floors sold are click together. These floors “float” over your sub-floor. That’s the supporting structure for your flooring, the layer of concrete or wood that is the base of your room.
With a floating floor, all of the planks are attached to each other, but none are adhered to the subfloor. There are actually two main types of click together systems, but they only have one difference in the process. They’re called Angle Angle and Drop & Lock. We have a video on each to show you how easy both mechanisms are to lock. For your particular choice of laminate flooring, you will want to follow the manufacturer provided instructions very carefully.
Where can Laminate Flooring go?
It’s one of the most versatile floors available. Laminate flooring can be installed in almost any room in your home, or any public or commercial space. This includes bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, hallways, entryways, kitchens, basements, offices, and many retail places. Laminate can go above or below ground level, and over wood or concrete subfloors, as well as over existing vinyl, laminate, stone, tile or hardwood flooring. Most can even be installed over floors with radiant heat. It can be used on steps, though this eliminates a click together installation. On steps, the floors need to be glued.
It is not recommended to put laminate flooring in frequently wet or steamy rooms like saunas, bathrooms, or anywhere you need to wet mop. Likewise, they should not go outside, even on a porch, and they cannot be installed over carpeting.
Tips to consider before the installation of a Click Together Laminate Floor
- It is recommended to order at least 10% more flooring than your exact measurements. Not only will this help you with any future repairs that may come up, but it ensures that your installation will not be stalled by any damaged boards, mis-cuts, or minor miscalculations.
- While laminate flooring can be installed over almost any subfloor or prior flooring other than carpet, the subfloor will have to be level. There are different ways to level concrete and wood.
- You will have to remove all furniture, of course, but also existing wall and transitional trims and moldings (with the possible exception of baseboards). You will need to be able to get to the wall itself. You see, even though it is not considered hardwood, laminate is still made of a lot of wood, and therefore will expand and contract a little bit with changes in the weather. This means that you’ll need to leave a small gap, around 10mm, between the flooring and the wall, and then put trims and moldings over that gap and the floor’s edge.
- You will need to thoroughly clean and sweep the subfloor.
- 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 the 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, 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 types, most of which do include the vapor barrier, so you only have one thing to roll out.
- If you do hire an installer, make sure that those you hire have the necessary licenses for your area, and that they have been “bonded”. When a company is bonded, it means that another company has money set aside in case you need to make a claim against the company you hired, say for damage or theft. The money is not under your service company’s control, but rather in the state’s control. When a company’s employee is bonded, it means that the employee has been investigated and found trustworthy enough to insure.
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David is has written and made videos about flooring products and installation since 2011 at Floors To Your Home (.com), where he is also the PPC Manager, a Researcher, a Website & Marketing Strategy Team member, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jito. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, put together a podcast, explore film history, and mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’). Connect with W. David Lichty
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