Laminate flooring can be installed in almost any room of your home, whether above or below ground or over wood or concrete. Most manufacturers strive to create laminate flooring that can be installed anywhere. Apart from basements and living rooms, laminate floor can be installed in areas where children and pets are frequently present. When you want a low noise level in the midst of heavy foot traffic, a carefully selected underlay can result in a quieter laminate floor.
You can also install Laminate floors on stairs without the use of underlay, but special stair installation instructions must be followed, as well as the addition of laminate wood floor mouldings. It is important to note that laminate floor installations should take place in climatically stable environments where there is no extreme temperature swings and excessive humidity. Radiant heated subfloors require additional installation steps. It is critical to follow manufacturer recommendations for successful laminate floor installations.
Where to avoid installing laminate flooring
Many experts advise against installing laminate flooring in areas prone to moisture, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, saunas, enclosed porches, and places that may require wet mopping. Moisture in contact with the floor’s edges and bottom can be an issue, causing the core of your laminate flooring to swell.
Laminate floors are now a standard feature in millions of homes. Laminate floors, which were originally installed primarily as a type of economy flooring, continue to hold their place as inexpensive, functional flooring.
However, laminate floors have made their way into higher-end homes where solid hardwood or engineered wood flooring would have previously been installed. With advancements such as deeper embossing and sharper image layers, laminate floors look, perform, and feel better than ever before. All of this popularity begs the question, “What exactly are laminate floors?”
Underlayment and installation of laminate flooring
Laminate floors are now long-lasting, comfortable, and can even resemble real wood. They are also inexpensive and simple to install. Continue reading to learn more about the fundamentals of laminate flooring. Shortly after its arival to US markets in the 1980s, laminate flooring has come a long way. It is an engineered product that is intended to be used with specific underlayment and trim components. Laminate flooring is typically sold in planks that are about 3 feet long, 5 to 7 inches or wider, and 7 to 12mm thick, with dimensions that are a mix of imperial and metric numbers harken back to their European origins.
What exactly is laminate flooring?
Laminate flooring, which is made up of four or five layers joined together under pressure, is one of the most popular DIY flooring options. Verifying that a product meets the ANSI-LF-01-2008 standard is one way to ensure that it is of high quality.
Laminate flooring options
Laminate flooring can be an option in any room of the house, and some manufacturers even permit its use in bathrooms. It is critical to follow installation instructions to the letter, especially when it comes to sealing the edges to prevent water intrusion. While most laminate flooring has a smooth, high-gloss surface, pressed-in textures are also available.
Grain of Wood
Wood grain is common, and you can also buy planks that look like they were hand-scraped. There are several products availble on the market that install similarly to laminated but differ in other ways. Engineered wood flooring can be found in a variety of configurations. The main distinction between wood flooring and laminate is that in wood flooring a layer of wood veneer is used instead of a high-quality photocopy. Another option is luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring, which is made entirely of plastic and is softer underfoot than engineered wood. Both, like laminate, are relatively thin and easily installed by do-it-yourselfers.
Stone, hardwood, and tile
Flooring materials like hardwood, tile, and stone compete with laminate. Traditional hardwood is nailed down one board at a time and is 3/4 inch thick. It is then sanded and finished in place, which is a job for professionals. Hardwood is also available pre-finished, making it ideal for do-it-yourself projects. However, that is still 3/4 inch thick, which can cause issues when transitioning to existing stairs or fitting beneath doors. One advantage of all types of hardwoods is that they can be sanded and refinished once worn, giving the installation a very long lifespan.
Stone and ceramic tile
Ceramic tile and stone are installed similarly, with proper underlayment and special installation tools required to prevent cracking. While they can be done by hand, most homeowners should leave them to professionals. Stone and tile are both extremely durable and resistant to moisture. Staining can be an issue depending on the type of grout used in the joints.
Linoleum and vinyl
Finally, there are thin, synthetic materials like vinyl and linoleum. Both are glued down and come in wide rolls or individual tiles. In most cases, the only special tool required is a notched trowel. Sheet vinyl or linoleum can be DIYed if you can find material wide enough to cover an entire room without a seam. Seaming is a time-consuming process best left to professionals. Vinyl and linoleum tile are definitely do-it-yourself materials.
Underlayment and subfloor
Laminate flooring is designed to function as part of a system. The underlayment is just as important as the flooring itself for the success of an installation.
Underlayment is required for all laminate flooring, which can range from 12-inch-thick sheets of cork to rolls of 6mm- or 8mm-thick felt or foam. “Underlayment is not optional,” according to one manufacturer, Swiss Krono. If your laminate planks do not already have it attached, we recommend that you purchase rolls of underlayment to install your laminate floor.”
Underlayment serves a number of functions. One of the most important applications is as a vapour retarder, which prevents excess moisture from causing issues with the laminate, such as swelling. Many underlayments include a vapour retarder, but when installing laminate in a basement, an additional layer of 6-mil- polyethene as a vapour barrier below the underlayment is required.
Underlayment also evens out small surface imperfections in the subfloor, which is important for properly supporting the flooring’s edge-locking joints and limiting movement that can cause creaking. Because laminate flooring is designed to work best with specific underlayments, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations here.
Thermal and sound insulation are two other benefits of underlayment. Underlayment does not provide much insulation value because it is so thin, but it can provide enough of a thermal break over concrete so that a basement floor feel warmer. Sound transmission reduction is a nice feature of underlayment, and it is actually a major code issue in multi-family dwellings. Look for an underlayment that contributes to a floor system with a Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating of 50 or higher. Underlayment has the benefit of making the floor more comfortable underfoot and helps to prevent damage if an object is dropped on it by giving a little bit under the impact.
Is it possible to install laminate flooring yourself?
Laminate flooring installation is a very popular do-it-yourself project because it is relatively simple and requires few tools. An entire installation could be completed with a tape measure, a utility knife for the underlayment, a chalk line, and a jigsaw for the cuts. However, a mitre saw, table saw, or at least, a circular saw will make the job much easier. Trim can be done with a hammer and nailset, but a trim nailer is more convenient. All of these tools are available for rent. It’s important to devote some time to reading the installation instructions that come with laminate flooring.
Unlike early laminate flooring products, which used white glue and a machined joint, today’s products simply snap together. There is a slight learning curve to this, so practice joining a couple of pieces first to ensure you have the hang of it before beginning the actual installation.
The wood fibre core of laminate flooring expands with humidity and contracts when it is dry. To allow for this expansion and contraction, it’s important to leave enough space between the flooring and the wall at the beginning and end. The amount of space required will be specified in the instructions. This will be covered with moulding later.
Moulding and Trim Manufacturers offer a variety of moulding and trim pieces in a variety of finishes to match their flooring. The various transitions, saddles, and nosings used where the laminate meets other surfaces, such as tile, carpet, or stairs, are the most important. Shoe moulding can also be nailed to your existing base moulding to cover the gap at the floor’s edge.
Installing laminate flooring does not have to be difficult. Whether you’re replacing kitchen flooring or installing wood laminate in a busy hallway, laminate’s waterproof and scratch-resistant properties make it an excellent choice. When you’re ready to upgrade your home with laminate flooring, consider renting a flooring tool to get the job done. Use it once, then return it – no maintenance required, and no need to store it.