First, let’s be clear on what is meant by a laminated floor. This product is a bit of a hybrid in the flooring industry. It looks so much like a hardwood or stone floor that it can easily be mistaken for the real thing. However, it is not stone or wood. Laminate floor is actually vinyl tiling—sort of and engineered flooring.
Why laminate flooring? It gives the look of wood or stone without the cost and maintenance. It is also easy to install for DIYers and a cinch to keep clean.
Because laminate flooring “floats,” there are no issues with nailing that plagues hardwood installation.
The first step is to remove whatever was on the floor. Pull up carpet and underpadding. If there are tack strips remover those too. You may have to pry these up with a crowbar.
Next, remove baseboards. You are now down to the subfloor. Make sure it is level. Use scrapers or putty knives to remove any lumps of glue or other previous flooring debris so the floor is perfectly smooth. Then sweep or vacuum what you have scraped off the floor. Make sure you get all those carpet tacks!
Now you are ready to install laminate floor. Make sure the subfloor is perfectly level. If it is not, your laminate floor may have “spongy” spots where it creaks or moves. Sand out high spots or use a leveling compound so the entire floor is flat and even. This is tedious work but well worth the effort. Be diligent with your level to ensure perfect flat, even subfloor.
Choose the flooring materials that will best suit your needs. Laminate materials vary in thickness and warranty. Some come with pre-applied padding. This saves an installation step. The most realistic ones have V-shaped edges. The thicker they are the more substantial the floor will feel and the longer the warranty.
Next, “introduce” the laminate floor materials to the room where they are being installed. Give them three or four days to get acclimated.
Measure the room and the width of planks so you know how many planks you need. Decide if you will need to cut the last row to fit. Undercut doorframes so planks will fit snugly. Install underlay if it does not come pre-applied to the planks.
Lay the first row of planks cutting the last piece to fit the end if needed. Assemble by rocking the end tongue and groove joints together. Use even, firm pressure. Continue with each row until your floor is done using manufacturer’s installation tips for completing the project at doorways and corners. Replace baseboards and admire your finished product!
Laminate flooring is an inexpensive floor alternative. It lends beauty to almost any room in your house. Avid DIYer can install this flooring and make it look professional. However, avoid laminate floor in bathrooms and laundry rooms as the floor can buckle and warp in rooms that experience high moisture. If your kitchen gets spills, avoid laminate flooring there too as the spill can get under the floor before you get it mopped up.
Anywhere else in your house, laminate floors provide the look of stone or hardwood without the high cost of materials and installation.