DIY- How to Install Laminate Flooring

General Installation Instructions for Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is designed to be a floating floor that may be installed over virtually any type of sub floor. It is not nailed or glued to the sub floor. Instead, a glue- less system with an extremely strong and durable tongue and
groove “locking” system creates a beautiful, stylish floor to be enjoyed as
soon as the installation is complete.

Just as all materials in the home expand and contract, laminate floors react to the changes in temperature and humidity. To allow the planks to adjust to the environment where they will live, acclimation to “in use conditions” is necessary and important. “In Use Conditions” means the area of installation should be heated or cooled to the typical use conditions. Acclimating a floor to a site that is not brought to in use conditions, is not proper acclimation.

To acclimate, place unopened cartons of planks flat on the floor in the room where they will be installed at least 3 feet away from outside walls and heating/air conditioning vents for a 48 hour minimum prior to
installation. Maintaining temperatures between 60 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit and a 35% – 65% relative humidity level provides a comfortable, healthy environment for people as well as the new flooring.

Because this is a “floating floor”, a minimum ¼” expansion space must be left around the entire perimeter of the room and any fixed objects to allow for movement. FAILURE TO MEET THESE REQUIREMENTS CAN
RESULT IN BUCKLING AND OTHER PROBLEMS! When installing the floor in wide or long areas, extra expansion space is recommended.

Laminate floors offer a wide variety of coordinating moldings and transition pieces to cover the ¼” expansion space at walls, doorways and transitions to other flooring. Some laminates have an attached foam underlayment on the planks while others require the installation of a separate underlayment. When installing over any concrete subfloor, a moisture/vapor barrier must be installed first, if not already incorporated in the product. Install a moisture barrier by rolling it out over the floor, overlap and tape the seams, lap up the walls (to be trimmed later).

Laminate flooring is intended for indoor use only. Make sure you have all the appropriate installation tools and materials:

Layout the first row. It is an accepted industry practice to begin and end each row with a plank at least 8” long.
For plank designs, measure the width of the room and divide by the width of one plank. If the remainder is 2 ½” or less, cut down the width of the first row to allow the last row to be more than 2 ½” wide.
For tile and slate designs the width and length of the planks in the first and last rows should be balanced.
To balance the width of a pattern in a room, add the width of the last row to the width of a full plank and divide by two. The answer is the width of the first and last row. For example, if the last row is 5” wide, add 5” to width of
the plank, in this case 11 ½” to get 16 ½”. Divide by two and get 8 ¼” which is the size to cut the first and last row.
The same formula will work for the length, however it may be easier to lay out as many full length planks as possible and physically center them from end to end.

If the starting wall is uneven, scribe or draw the contour of the wall on the planks and cut along the pencil line. Remove the small tongue from the end of the first plank in the first row.
End joints on adjacent rows must be staggered according to manufacturers recommendations.
When possible, install planks perpendicular to the source of light.
Maintain a minimum ¼” expansion space with spacers. Whenever possible, use the cut pieces from the opposite wall to begin the next row or another row. Stagger end joints according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
Start the installation in a corner of the room and work left to right, or visa versa, according to the manufacturers plank configuration.

Trim the first row as per the above instructions or if starting with a full plank or tile cut off the extended profile sides of the plank that will be against the wall. Run this trimmed edge parallel to the starting wall using expansion spacers. Keep the corners of the planks in the first row perfectly aligned.
For most installations, especially tile or slate installations, the best visual effect is obtained by mixing planks from different boxes (preferably 4 or 5 boxes) during installation. Bear in mind that the width of the joint between the tiles on each strip varies. Using planks from various boxes and placing thin joints next to thick ones gives a more natural look.
Aligning grout lines lengthwise and crosswise in a room is recommended. When you reach the end of a row, measure and trim the last plank to fit. Remember to leave a minimum ¼” expansion. A sharp carbide tipped blade with 60 of more teeth cutting into the decorative surface will avoid chipping. Use the remainder of the cut plank to start the next row if it is more than 8”long. (Does not apply to tile or slate installations).
To install flooring around pipes, drill a hole in the plank ½” larger than the pipe diameter. Cut the plank across the center of the circle, position on the floor and glue the plank pieces back together. (Do not glue laminate to the sub floor). Cover expansion gaps with molding or pipe rings when the floor is complete. All pipes require silicone sealant in the expansion space.
To replace any planks that may have been damaged, simply raise the last installed board approximately 1 ¼” until it disengages. Replace and reinstall the planks. Do not engage and disengage more than three times.

Cutting the Last Row:
Place a full row of planks directly on top of the last installed row of planks.
Use the full width of a scrap piece of plank. Place the tongue side against
the wall and a pencil against the extended groove and mark a line the length
of the wall. Cut along the pencil line. Leaving the tongue an groove on the
scrap piece will automatically allow for the ¼” expansion space needed.

Bathroom Installation:
Most laminate flooring is resistant to water and may be installed in a bathroom; however, it is very important to prevent water or moisture from getting under the flooring. Remove the toilet before installing the laminate flooring. Seal all expansion spaces including around the toilet flange and any pipes with mildew resistant 100% silicone sealant.

Kitchen Installation:
When installing laminate flooring in a kitchen all expansion spaces subject to moisture or plumbing leaks must be sealed using a mildew resistant 100% silicone sealant. Fill the expansion space in front of the sink and dishwasher, around the refrigerator and icemaker, exterior door/s and any other area subject to flooding. It is recommended that kitchen cabinets be installed prior to installing laminate flooring. Install the plank up to the kick plate of the cabinets, leaving a minimum ¼” expansion space. Cover the expansion space with a quarter round molding.

Laundry Room Installation:
All expansion spaces in a laundry room MUST be filled with sealant including all exterior doors.
Laminate flooring must not be installed if the laundry room has a floor drain or sump plum.
The expansion space around the perimeter of the laminate floor must be ¼” wide and sealed prior to installing the wall trim. The expansion space must be completely filled with sealant to avoid water getting underneath the
When laminate flooring is installed in a laundry room and an adjoining hall or room, a T-molding must be installed in the doorway between the rooms or hallway, and the expansion space under the T-molding must be filled with mildew resistant 100% silicone sealant.

Radiant Heat:
Most laminate flooring can be used in combination with many types of infloor heating. The heating system can be cast in a concrete floor or in a thin layer of filler on the surface of a concrete subfloor. It can also be installed under a wood subfloor or installed on the surface of a subfloor as matting.
Follow the instructions from the supplier of the floor heating system. The heating system must be in operation for at least 2 weeks prior to the installation of laminate flooring. The system may be turned off or set to a
suitable installation temperature (65 – 72 degrees F.) After installation, the temperature may be increased slowly at the rate of approximately 5 degrees per day, and should not exceed 85 degrees F. Follow the instructions from the manufacturer of the floor heating system that do not conflict with the above requirements.

Installing Laminate Flooring on Step Down or Stair Tread

Prior to beginning the installation, any loose or damaged treads or risers should be repaired or replaced. Any loose paint, debris or old adhesives must be removed prior to installation.

Step Down from a Floating Floor
Cut the stair nosing to the desired length and attach to the sub floor as per manufacturer’s instructions. A ¼” expansion space must be maintained beneath the stair nosing and the floating floor. Insert the stair nose in place
per manufacturer’s instruction.

Transition Molding:
Transition moldings are used to give a finished appearance to laminate installations. This includes laminate-to-laminate, laminate to other flooring materials, and laminate to fixed objects or vertical surfaces. Transition
moldings come in many different widths and lengths.

T-molding joins laminate flooring to laminate flooring where recommended by the manufacturer. They also may be used to other Hard Surface flooring of EQUAL height such as ceramic tile, hardwood, vinyl, or other resilient
flooring installed over underlayment.

Carpet Transition
Carpet Transitions and moldings are to be used where laminate flooring meets a carpeted floor. T-molding should NOT be use to transition laminate
to carpet.

End Molding
End molding finishes laminate flooring at sliding doors, exterior door thresholds, and other vertical surfaces not receiving wall base or quarter

Reducer transitions laminate to a lower hard surface floor such as vinyl, wood, or tile.

Stair Nose
Stair Nose is used to finish stair edges or step down applications.
Repairing Minor Damage to Laminate Floors:
Minor damage to the floor such as a small chip or nail or screw hole in wall
trim can be easily fixed or filled with finishing putty. A neat repair is easy
to accomplish by using a small sharp chisel or knife to clean up the edges of
the damaged area. Surround the damaged area with scotch tape before
applying the finishing putty with a new plastic spatula. Once applied,
remove the tape and allow to dry thoroughly.

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