What is Involved in Laminate Flooring Installation?

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  • Written By: Jessica Hobby
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2019
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Laminate flooring is flooring made up of a dense core that is primarily composed of pressed wood or particle board. A picture of wood, tile or stone is placed over the top and then covered with an aluminum oxide coating for durability. Some laminates are even texturized to add dimension and appear as identical substitutions for the product they are imitating. Laminate flooring is a popular choice for floor coverings because of its relatively low cost and ease of installation.

Laminate flooring installation of the past has traditionally required gluing each plank or tile together, however, most modern laminate flooring is now glueless. Even though glueless installation is easier and less time consuming, it still requires a great deal of precision and a thorough understanding of what is involved in laminate flooring installation.

First, it is required that all layers of old floor covering are removed with the exception of linoleum, vinyl flooring or any other extremely thin tile. Because laminate flooring is a floating floor, it is more forgiving of variances in floor height and allows installation over up to three layers of thin flooring. Although laminate flooring installation is possible over multiple layers of old flooring, it is recommended to remove old layers of flooring to keep a normal floor height.


Next, all baseboards must be removed, if you are remodeling, and in new construction, baseboards should not be installed until after the laminate flooring installation is complete. After you have a clean working area, foam padding that lies beneath the laminate floor should be laid down to cover the whole area. Place the seams close together and secure them with duct tape. Also make sure the padding extends through the door jamb. It is much easier to trim off excess when you are finished as opposed to trying to patch in little pieces of padding.

Whichever pad is recommended for the product being installed should be used. The pad serves as a moisture barrier in humid areas such as basements and helps to quiet the echoing click sound that laminate floors make when they are walked on. Once the pad is installed, the laminate flooring can be installed on top. It is recommended to purchase 20 percent more laminate and padding than the area of the room where the flooring is being installed. The amount of waste will depend on the precision of cuts and the shape of the room. Perfectly square or rectangle rooms may only need 10 percent waste.

Laminate flooring is held together with a tongue and groove system. Proper installation dictates that you begin on one side of the room putting planks together and tapping them together with a block and mallet so there are no gaps. Because laminate flooring will expand and contract with humidity, it is important that an expansion gap of ¼ to ½ an inch (.64 to 1.27 cm) be left around the perimeter of the room by using spacers to keep the gap even. As rows of planks are installed there seams should be staggered to offer the most strength and most natural look. If square tiles are being installed, an expansion gap is still required; however installation will begin at the center of the room and go outward in the same fashion that ceramics or stone would be laid.



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