Learning to lay laminate flooring requires knowledge about items and the material needed for the activity. If you are considering installing laminate flooring at home as a DIY project, here is all you need to know.
The Two Essentials
Installation of laminate flooring has 2 essential prerequisites, which are:
1. Essential Installation Items
These are the must-have items when beginning a project and include
- Measuring Tape
- Hand saw
2. Recommended Installation Items
Although not mandatory, we recommend that you have access to the following items.
- Spirit Level (2m long)
- Knee pads
- Pull bar
- Electric chop saw as an alternative to hand saw
- Moisture meter
Steps to Lay Laminate Flooring
Here are the steps to install laminate flooring on your property.
Before you begin, inspect the floor and the laminate flooring for any defects. Then fix the uneven surfaces and faults on the floor. If there is something wrong with the flooring, ask the manufacturer to provide laminate without any damage or defect.
The Right Site Conditions
Poor site conditions such as moisture are the primary reason why laminates fail. Therefore, you must carry out the following steps to ensure the correct conditions.
- The humidity levels on the site must range from 45% to 65%. You can use a hygrometer to test this.
- Timber or concrete, your sub-floors must have moisture levels lower than or up to 12% MC during a surface prone test. If you are using a concrete moisture meter, moisture content has to be lower than 3%.
- The sub-floor must be levelled to ensure the correct installation of the boards or flooring material.
Acclimatizing the laminate Floor
Once you have managed to achieve the proper site conditions, it is time to acclimatize your laminate flooring. You can leave the laminate floor in its packaging and lay it flat on the ground in the room you wish to install it. Typically, you can leave these in for at least 48 hours to acclimatize. However, you can read the manufacturer’s instructions to know the recommended time for this process.
Do not make the classic mistake of stacking the boxes, plus follow any additional instructions provided by the manufacturer to carry out the right acclimatization process. A room has to be at an average temperature. The laminate material will not acclimate property if the room is too cold or wet (too much moisture) on the ground.
Time to Lay the Laminate Flooring
First, you must read the manufacturer’s installation guide (if there is one) to know all the prerequisites. While installing a laminate floor is a standard process, there may be some specific requirements the manufacturer may need you to perform.
Remove all existing underlay and flooring before starting the installation. The activity needs an expansion gap around the outer frame of the laminate floor, so removing any existing skirting board can be an optional requirement. You can install the skirting once you have installed the floor.
Floating with an underlay is one of the most common installation methods. You can use these panels anywhere over any sub-floors. It is a DIY-friendly approach and does not require any prior experience or training. Once the laminate flooring is laid, it will click together without a need for adhesive. However, different floors connect in various ways, so make sure about the floor type you are using.
Laminating Your Floor Underlay
Remember, you must use the correct type of underlay for laminate flooring. For example, if your sub-floor is concrete, using an underlay with a damp-proof membrane is the best option. Similarly, using an insulated underlay in an area experiencing cold weather is a cost-effective and eco-friendly solution.
Installing Your Laminate Flooring
Once you have finished installing the underlay, it is time to assemble the floor by clicking the panels next to each other. You can start to form a straight wall and lay the first row by joining the edge boards.
Your first board must be half board, and then you can continue along the row. Next, you can use spacers to maintain a gap of 10mm against the wall. In case you do not have spacers, cut-offs from the laminate floor will do. Now move on to the next row with an entire board to ensure that your laminate flooring has well spaced-out joints.
Make sure to have an appropriate distance between the joints. Joints too close can often be poor and affect the strength of your laminate flooring. Continue this process until you have reached the other end of the room. Do not forget to leave at least a 100 mm gap around everything, including
- Door frames
- All of the walls
- Any plumbing and heating pipes
- Other floorings
- Kitchen fixtures and units
Once you have installed the floors, it is time to hide all the perimeter gaps. You can use skirting or beading for this task. However, you must get the ones with a minimum of 12mm thickness as this will allow adjustment for any shrinkage due to any reason.
Furthermore, the expansion gap has to be left near the doors or areas where the floor transitions from one room or space to another. The same rule applies to the areas where the flooring is against any obstacle, such as plumbing pipes or stairs.
If you are not sure about this, then hiring a professional floor laying service may be a more viable and cost-effective option. Failing to take care of the gaps correctly may cause your floor to deform with the passage of time.
Now that you have successfully laid out the laminate flooring, you must ensure to follow a very important aftercare tip. For the next couple of days, DO NOT rest any hefty weight on top of your laminate i.e., any item weighing more than 200 kg.
This is important because a heavy item will restrict the movement that can cause issues with the peaking of the laminate flooring. Often flooring can be installed under a rebate or a plinth which would include a grand piano, island units, kitchen units, stone fireplace, etc.