So you’ve chosen laminate flooring for your home. Excellent choice! You’re going to have the look of realistic hardwood or stone with even greater durability and affordability. But before you start planning that open house to show off your new investment, it’s important to focus on the installation process. Being prepared will create less stress for you — and your installer!
Laminate flooring is easy to install yourself — if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t have extensive experience with this product and/or situations like yours, then it’s best to save yourself the time, hassles and potential minor (or major!) imperfections and go pro, instead. Only a professional can guarantee a beautiful, efficient and correct installation. Your specialty flooring retailer can coordinate the installation process for you. Click here to find a professional laminate installer in your area.
Here are the four primary methods of laminate flooring installation:
Glueless installation makes laminate floors quick and easy-to-install — and without the mess! These floors come in both planks and squares. A thin, plastic underlayment is needed to float the laminate above the subfloor and seal out moisture from below.
2. Attached Underlay
These laminate floors come with several different types of tongue and grooved locking systems and an attached underlayment to reduce noise levels.
These are the “original” style laminate floors that require a special formulated glue to be applied to the tongue and groove of each plank. Although planks usually fit together easily, installers will sometimes use a tapping block. Once the glue dries, the planks are almost impossible to separate. These floors come in both planks and squares.
This installation method leaves no mess because the glue is already applied to the tongue and grooves. The result is a quick and easy installation.
Prior to installation, it’s important to relocate all furniture and other objects from the rooms where new flooring is to be installed. It’s always best that you do your own moving to ensure nothing gets damaged in the process, though some installers will do it for you at an additional charge. Assuming you purchased your flooring through a specialty retailer, this is just one of several items they will coordinate with you prior to beginning the installation.
Before moving your furniture, be sure to empty the contents of china cabinets, closets, etc. Also, be aware that the installation area must be climate controlled (heated or air conditioned). Indoor humidity should be maintained between 45-65%.
What do you plan to do with your old floor covering? Rip it out? Install your new floors over it?
If you’re going to remove your old floors, do it at least one day prior to arrival of your laminate to allow for time cleanup and floor preparation. Your installers may remove your old flooring for you for an additional fee.
Need A Trim?
In most cases, moldings and baseboards need to be removed prior to laminate installation. Your installer may do this at an additional charge, but will most likely not be responsible for damage or breakage. Painted baseboards and woodwork may need patching and painting after the installation is complete. This is typically your responsibility.
Existing subfloors may require preparation to receive the laminate, or a new subfloor may be required. Be sure to discuss your unique situation with your specialty flooring retailer or installer. Subfloors need to be as clean and level as possible.
There’s always the possibility that doors, especially closet, basement and bedroom doors, may not clear your new laminate floors. Some installers will remove doors in order to install the laminate flooring and then re-hang them — if possible. Check with your installer about their policy and cost. You may require a qualified carpenter to shave or cut your doors down after installation.
The Clean Up
Depending on your installation method, installing laminate flooring may create a mess inside and possibly outside your home. Typically, waste materials are collected by your installer and disposed of for a fee. Confirm this prior to installation so that you understand the terms of the agreement.
Take the Day Off
Plan to stay home on installation day. Inevitably there will be questions to answer and decisions to be made. Your presence will help ensure that your new floors are correctly installed in all the right areas.
Laminate floor installers use a variety of tools and techniques that can make the work area hazardous. Be sure that children and pets are kept out of the work area. In you’re installing floors in the kitchen, for example, plan to have food and drink available in another room so that entering the kitchen during work hours won’t be necessary.
Prior to the completion of the installation, it’s important to walk the job site with the chief installer. This “walk thru” gives you an opportunity to ask questions, point out any unsatisfactory aspects of the work and ultimately “buy off” on the overall job.
Molding & Transitions
Custom finished moldings and trim will give your laminate flooring a beautiful, finished look. Moldings and trims can be coordinated to match or accentuate the design of your floor. Here’s some terms and definitions that are good to know.
The Step Down Stairnose is a coordinating piece that provides the proper transition for all the steps in your home.
A Reducer Strip is the transitional piece used to connect laminate flooring to another type of floor covering, such as vinyl, thin laminate tile or low-pile carpeting.
An End Molding or Carpet Reducer is used to transition from laminate floors to other flooring surfaces when the reducer doesn’t allow enough height, such as on high-pile carpet or thick laminate tile.
A Square Nosing is often used where laminate flooring butts up to carpeting, or other vertical surfaces where the edge will be exposed, such as along a fireplace.
T-Molding is typically used in doorways to join two laminate floors in adjoining rooms. It's also recommended when making transitions from a laminate floor to another floor that’s about the same height.
Finally, a Quarter Round is often installed wherever a laminate floor meets the wall or baseboard.
We recommend that you work closely with your retailer and installer to become familiar with moldings and transition pieces.