Friday, August 10, 2012

How to lay a laminate floor

Now that you have selected the appropriate laminate flooring, it’s time to install!  This blog will simplify how to lay the flooring.  Good luck! 

Here’s a list of the tools that you will need to lay your floor: 

·         Laminate flooring shear or a powered chop saw (these can be easily rented)

·         A small mallet or hammer for very gentle persuasion

·         An offset setting tool

·         Pencil

·         Tape measure

These are the materials that you will need to purchase:            

·         The total square feet of your space plus 10% for simple rectangular rooms and 15-20% extra for complicated layouts.

·         The total square footage plus 5% of foam padding for vapor barrier and sound transmission reduction.  It is important to note that some brands have the padding adhered to the underside and don’t require separate padding. Materials must be acclimated to the space for at least 48 hours.

·         Pry Bar

Now you’re ready to lay the floor.  Believe it or not the hardest part of this project is the initial layout.  There is a reason behind laying out the flooring prior to installation. You will want to ensure that there is an efficient yield of flooring so that you don’t end up with small or narrow pieces that can’t attach or stay down on their own. Trust me, this process is necessary and will save you a lot of time. The end result will be an attractive floor!

Here are some easy ways to make sure that the pieces are the appropriate size and are laying the right direction:

·         If some of the end pieces can be less than 1/3 of the standard length, then you can use these cut offs as starters for the next row.

·         Pieces narrower than 2” usually don’t lie correctly as one single piece.

·         Entrances and along the wall are the most visible areas of a room.  Laying the flooring parallel is critical.

The following pre-work should be done prior to installation of your laminate flooring:

·         Any base shoe must be removed and replaced after the floor is installed to cover the ¼” gaps you’ll have at the baseboards. Occasionally, the baseboards will need undercutting which can be done with a flush cut flooring saw or a powered tool such as the RotoZip with a Zipmate attachment for rotational cutting or a multi tool which vibrates the cut.

·         Make sure the existing floor is free of dirt, debris and dust.

Now it’s time to lay your floor! 

Step 1: Lay underlayment flat on your existing floor. Some manufacturers call for sealing tape and some do not. Be sure to follow the instructions as directed. While some may advise you that it is okay to admit this step, I would not recommend it. Underlayment provides soundproofing and keeps the room from having a hollow feel or echo when walking.

Step 2: Measure your room with a measuring tape and find the halfway point. This will let you determine how wide the first and last rows of laminate should be to ensure your layout will look, even when completed. Wear your safety goggles at all times when cutting the wood.

Step 3: Cut the tongue side off of the first piece of laminate flooring you will be using (again, wearing your safety goggles at all times when cutting the wood). This process needs to be done for each piece of laminate that is facing the starting and finishing walls

Step 4: Place your first full piece of laminate (tongue removed because it is against starting wall) against wall with side that used to have the tongue pressed against the wall. Before laying this piece you may have to cut it to size to ensure even laying (as noted in Step 3).

Step 5: Place 1/3 piece of laminate flooring in the 2nd row, sliding tongue into groove of existing piece (the piece you have placed in the first row) and snap into place like a jigsaw puzzle. Carefully tap into place with a hammer. The 3rd row starts with a 2/3 length piece. The 4th row starts with a full piece again.  You will continue this alternating pattern for the entire room.

 Step 6: Place ¼" spacers between wood and wall. These allow for expansion later, which happens naturally with temperature fluctuations within the room. It is important that you put these spacers in as you work your way around the room.

 Step 7: When putting in the very last piece of the room you will have to nudge it into place with your pry bar.

 Step 8: Install T-molding where room opens up into another space/room or reducers if the space entering is carpeted.

Step 9: When the flooring is all in place, it’s time to put in either your moldings or trim, or replace your baseboards. I recommend using trim that matches the new floor color: It’s easy to install and gives the room a sleek and finished look. If reinstalling baseboards, do not secure them to the laminate flooring. The baseboards will be sufficient to hold the floor in place, as these floors are specifically designed to be floating by nature. Directly securing them with anything at all will produce unwanted results.

 Congratulations! You have successfully installed your laminate flooring.  Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning and overall care instructions.  Enjoy!  

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Selecting the Right Laminate Floor

Are you considering putting a laminate floor in your home, apartment or condo?  While having a professional carpenter install the flooring is often faster, laying it yourself is possible.

When selecting the proper laminate flooring for your space, it is important to know which type is best.  You will need to determine if the area where you will be installing the flooring is dry or damp. These factors will determine the type of flooring you will want to install.

Selecting the right laminate floor can be daunting with the many choices available.  There are many brands and types of manufactured self-locking flooring systems.  Typically, retailers carry different brands of flooring so as to not have to compete with each other on the same product. Plastic laminate, very similar to a Formica countertop is one of the most popular floorings and also the most durable finish. Laminate is typically bonded to a medium density fiberboard (MDF), a fine particle board substrate.  This type of flooring holds up quite well in dry environments.

Engineered flooring is a laminate or wood veneer bonded to plywood substrate. The plywood is a stronger and more stable substrate, more suitable for an occasionally damp setting such as a kitchen or basement. The decorative wood veneer can be very thin and it is important to note that this type of wood can never be refinished. There are some solid wood veneers up to a 1/8” thick and they may be able to be refinished once.  Many laminate flooring systems have a shelf life of ten to 15 years.  A traditional hardwood strip floor can be refinished many times and may last over one hundred years.

Floating floor means that they are assembled together and not affixed to the building’s subfloor. The benefit of floating laminate floors is that the flooring expands and contracts independently of the building and therefore the seams won’t open up seasonally or crack when the building settles or moves. The panels are locked together with a space if left around the perimeter to allow for expansion.

Learn how to lay laminate flooring in our next blog.

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© Architecturally Speaking 2012