How to Prepare for Laminate Installation
Owning a home requires one to be prepared in all aspects. Obtaining a new laminate flooring is no exception, especially when one appreciates that laminate, like any floor covering, affects interior beauty, design, comfort, livability, and upkeep.
Notably, being ready for the installation of your new laminate flooring makes the entire process quicker, more efficient, and hopefully, eliminates any “surprises.”
Knowing what to expect and being prepared can also be less stressful for you, your family, and your home.
Install It Yourself or Allow Us To?
Even though some people attempt to install laminate flooring on their own, this job is still challenging, labor-intensive, and extremely exacting.
If you are not a seasoned DIY person, we strongly suggest you call upon our professionals to install your laminate floor.
That way, you can be certain of a beautiful, efficient, and correct installation.
That is precisely what our goal is for you.
Nonetheless, while installing laminate flooring is a skill developed through years of experience, your understanding of the basics of installation will boost your knowledge of the process and improve your confidence in the professionals working in your home.
Therefore, please allow us to cover some of these basics with you.
Currently, numerous manufacturers are producing laminate flooring products.
Most manufacturers have specific installation guidelines, but the overall process is the same. A good understanding of this is crucial.
Laminate floors use a “floating floor” installation. That means the planks or tiles simply lay on top of the floor without the use of adhesives to the subfloor and are only adhered to each other on the edges.
Side seams are joined using a “glueless” installation where the planks or tiles tightly interlock together.
The first step in a laminate floor installation is to scrutinize your subfloor for any imperfections. If your subfloor requires additional labor to allow the manufacturers’ requirements for installation to be met, our flooring professionals will discuss this with you. It is worth noting that most manufacturers need a level subfloor with a tolerance of 3/16” every 10 feet.
While no floor is faultlessly level, the subfloor should be checked for any noticeable gaps or ridges that could cause glitches.
Next, the Underlayment is Rolled Out
The installers will now put down an underlayment directly over your subfloor.
This underlayment allows the floor to expand and contract with variations in temperature and also acts as a barrier for both sound and moisture. Both of these are good ideas.
In some installations, there can be two underlayment layers.
The first layer is installed to serve as a moisture barrier, while the second layer gives a sound barrier and improves your flooring’s performance.
Typically, the underlayment is rolled out and taped together at the layers.
Where needed, the installer will cut the pieces of underlayment to make a perfect fit.
Laying of the Laminate Planks or Tiles
Usually, installers will begin in the left corner of the area and leave a minimum 1/4″ space between the flooring and the perimeter walls.
That is done because the laminate needs space around the edges of the room to expand or contract.
Without that “breathing room,” your floor will demonstrate its discontent. If the floor is too close or touching a wall, it can buckle in the middle.
Installers can use spacers as they work to ensure the precision of this perimeter space.
They place one spacer for each square foot. Once your floor is fully installed, they eliminate the spacers and cover the perimeter gap with quarter round trim or a wall base.
As your installers lay the planks or tiles in the preferred pattern, they will carefully measure and accurately cut them to fit.
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Clueless About Glueless Laminate Floors?
As mentioned earlier, many modern laminates do not require glue for the installation.
These glueless products have considerably affected the laminate flooring industry. There are several reasons why the glueless laminates have gained popularity.
Most significantly, they are easier to install. Installers put down an underlayment, and the laminate planks or tiles interlock to each other, one at a time.
If something goes in the wrong direction during installation, your floor can be pulled out in pieces, plank-by-plank, or tile-by-tile, and re-built.
If one of the panels gets spoiled after installation, your entire floor can be removed, the damaged panel replaced, and the floor can be put back together in place again.
Some Installations Require Glue
For floors that need glue on the sides of the planks or tiles, your installer may start by gluing the first two panels in the first row.
Additionally, they start in the left-hand corner and glue the first row together at the ends as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
They apply clamps or use straps to hold the pieces together as they join every plank or tile.
Even though planks or tiles usually join together with ease, installers will sometimes use a tapping block while fitting them together.
For installations that use glue, the installer should remove the spacers once the floor is completed and the glue is dry.
Hurray! Your New Floor Gets the Final Touch
To finish your floor, our installer will add molding to cover the perimeter gap and install any additional transition trim pieces needed in doorways or where the laminate meets a different flooring type.
Custom finished moldings and trim will undoubtedly give your laminate flooring a beautiful and finished look. They are all coordinated to match the design of your floor. It is all available as a part of the art of installation.
Here are some common finishing terms and definitions
- Reducer Strip is used to produce a smooth transition between two floors of different heights and protect the plank or tile exposed edges from foot traffic damage.
- Overlapping Stair Nosing is comparable to a flush stair nosing, except the nosing overlaps the exposed edge of your floor. The overlapping stair nosing is secured to the subfloor and not to the laminate floor to make the floor free to move.
- T-Molding is used to link two areas of flooring that are the same height. The T-Molding overlaps the exposed edges of the floor and is secured only to the subfloor, never to the flooring itself. Generally, this trim is used as the transition piece between rooms, or as the expansion piece for areas that exceed 30 feet in length.
- Universal Edge is also called Square Nosing. It is used where the laminate flooring butts up to carpeting, or various vertical surfaces where the edge will be exposed, such as along a fireplace.
- Quarter Round gives the floor a finished look and protects the edges of your laminate flooring.
The result is a beautifully installed laminate floor you will feel proud of, especially when you have visitors.
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