Step 1: Prepare the sub-floor surface
So you've read our laminate flooring review and choosen your laminate.The most common flooring surface that laminate flooring is installed over is the concrete slab. If the concrete slab is not flat the end result will be your laminate flooring 'creaking'. It is therefore vital that you check your concrete slab for flatness.
Don't think that the flooring underlay will take up too many of the dips or bumps in the slab - it won't. This really is the most important job in the whole installation process. Please take your time at this stage, it will pay dividends in the long run.
Being 'flat' does not mean being'level'. Although many people refer to the floor being 'level', the important thing is flatness. Being level is not nearly so important.
Check your concrete slab for flatness by using a couple of straight edges, one about 12'(3.6m), (if you can get one that long), and one about 6'(1.8m). If you find a dip in the concrete slab of more than 1/8"(3.5mm), you will need to use self levelling compound to fix the problem before continuing. Alternatively you can use a surface grinder to remove small high spots if they are small enough.
Please! Don't rush this crusial stage. As with all jobs, proper preparation at this stage will give you a really professional end result and a laminate floor you will be proud to show off.
Depending on the amount of floor leveling compound you use, be prepared to wait a fair while for it to dry properly. Not allowing it to dry will result in your laminate flooring absorbing a large quantity of moisture, something that should be avoided just after fitting. There are dryers available for speeding up this process; either commercial dehumidifiers, heat blowers or even carpet dryers will assist in the drying process.
When the slab floor is completely dry you can measure and cut any doors and door frames that may need trimming in order for the laminate flooring to fit underneath. Use a small section of your chosen laminate flooring as a template plus any underlay to gauge the correct amount to cut off. Your can hire a special door trimming tool to do this job, or you can remove the doors and saw off the required amount.Don't forget to also cut the bottom of any door frames to allow the laminate flooring to easily slip under them.
Make sure your sub-flooring is swept clean and you are ready for the next stage - installing the underlay.
Step 2 - Install Underlay
There are any number of different types of underlay available to suit any type of laminate flooring. Wherever you buy your laminate flooring, make sure the retailer knows what surface you are installing your laminate flooring over. That way he (or she) can supply you with the correct type to suit your particular circumstances.
Installation instructions differ from product to product so be sure to read the laminate flooring manufacturers instructions carefully. The following should be taken as a general guide only, but is a good palce to start.
Installing over a concrete slab
Seams should generaly be taped by using packaging tape. Make sure the underlay extends up the wall at least 2" and run it the same way as the laminate flooring will lie.
Flooring looks better if it runs in the same direction as the main light source, for example from a main window.
Only install as much underlay as is necessary to allow installation of a few planks of laminate flooring. This way minimal damage will occur to the underlay. Start laying flooring a small section at a time after this.
Installing over wooden flooring
The only major difference is that seams in the underlay are generally not taped together and there is no requirement to run the underlay past the edge of the sub-floor.
Step 3 - Install Laminate Flooring
For a professional looking finish, measure the width of the room to be floored and divide by the width of the planking being fitted. This will give you a whole number of planks to be used plus any fraction of a plank over. Divide this remaining amount by 2 and you have the size of the first and last planks. This will insure that your last two edge planks are of equal size - a small detail, but trust me, it's small details like this that make the difference between an average job and a great job!
The most important thing to remember when installing laminate flooring is to remember the 1/4" (6mm) expansion gap. It is very tempting to fit the laminate flooring nice and snug to the wall - Don't. And don't forget pipes, cabinets, toilets etc, they all need an expansion gap around them.
Continue laying planks in a staggered pattern. The first plank should always be a full length plank. Continue installation by continuing a length of planking on the next row. When you reach the final plank you will need the help of the puller tool to make the last plank a nice tight fit.
Floor Trim To finish the floor use wood quadrant to cover the expansion gap, use small nails to fix the quadrant in place or for an even better looking job, glue the quadrant in place. A product like No-Nails would be a good adhesive to use.