In the past 5 years laminate flooring has become more and more popular and used in many households. There are several reasons for this, most notably though is that laminate flooring is easy to maintain and cheaper than real wood floors and looks more attractive than vinyl floors. Laminate comes in a variety of grades or quality levels that makes it a practical solution for almost any household. If you are thinking of installing laminate flooring yourself then it is important to understand how to prepare your floors for laminate flooring.
Preparing the floor for Installation
First you'll need to remove the existing flooring. Any old carpet or vinyl floors will need to be pulled up and disposed of. Remember to take off the tack strips around the perimeter of the room and removed or flatten out any nails or staples that are sticking up from the subfloor. Next it is important to give the entire floor area a good clean, preferably with a decent vacuum cleaner or shop vac.
Now you need to check your sub floor, for any dips or squeaks. Sagging floor boards will need to be replaced. If the joints are loose and the plywood subfloor moves then you’ll need to screw down any moving joints until the floor is solid. If on a concrete slab an appropriate self-leveling compound can be found at your local home improvement store and skimmed over it to get your floor nice and level.
Now you'll need to remove the base-boards. If you do this carefully you may be able to save these for re-use. Use a coping saw to cut off the bottoms of door jambs and case openings. Depending on the thickness of the laminate and padding you are using you will need to leave an appropriate space for doors to open smoothly without sticking. When choosing your under pad a bit of advice is to choose the thicker, even if it is more expensive.
Firstly, roll out the underlayment padding, ensuring the pieces are connected together with wide and clear plastic tape. Depending on the type of laminate flooring you have the flooring can connect in a variety of ways. Check your installation instructions for exactly how to install your laminate floor. In general, laminate flooring snaps or clicks together; this is the simple and straightforward part of the installation job. As laminate flooring is a floating floor, it doesn't connect to the house but just to itself, so it's best to leave at least a quarter inch clearance between the laminate and the wall of the room where you are fitting the new floor. This will allow your floor to expand in warmer weather without buckling.
As you go along, gently use a mallet and pull bar to snug the floor up. Watch out for doorways, as this is where things could get challenging. Sometimes a utility knife can sort this out by trimming the snapping connections on the adjoining planks so they can simply slide in place together. Some wood glue here could be helpful as well.
Finish up by re-using the base-boards you carefully removed earlier, which were hopefully not damaged in the process. If you cannot re-use the base-boards, then cut and install some new ones. Remember to miter and caulk all of the necessary joints on the base boards, and do not nail them into the blanks as this is a floating floor. Now you are done bear in mind that the laminate floor will need some level of care, although it is very low maintenance.