Here a few tips for installing laminate flooring that will make for a smooth installation process and let you enjoy your new laminate flooring sooner! For the budget-conscious homeowner looking to rehabilitate their old or ugly flooring, laminate flooring is the perfect solution. Super easy to install, laminate flooring does not require the usual suspects of home repair -- nails, finishing stain and sandpaper aren't needed at all for proper installation, and it can be installed right over the old floor, simplifying the process even further. Laminate flooring is also extra resistant to the usual abuse seen by most floors; scratches, stains and dents aren't a big problem for this versatile medium. Available in a multitude of wood grain patterns, laminate flooring can also be purchased that looks like other materials, such as vinyl or ceramic tiles, so using it to decorate and match up perfectly with the rest of your house's decor is simple. Like any home improvement project, you will need to be extra prepared before beginning the installation process.
Make Sure the Subfloor is Well Prepared
Even though laminate flooring is known for its ease of installation, you should still do everything you can to ensure that the existing floor, or "subfloor", is adequately prepared. One way to gauge the preparedness of your floor is to inspect it for high spots. High spots can be common in concrete floors due to a variety of factors in the concrete curing process. High spots can be flattened to be level with the use of a concrete grinder (Don't let the high price of one of these grinders scare you off, though, they can be rented for fairly reasonable prices at a local home improvement rental store). If you have carpet, you should remove it. Although it's technically possible to lay laminate flooring over very thin carpet, it's not advisable due to potential settling problems. You will also want to remove any doors and trim in the area where you will be setting your new flooring. Last but not least, make sure your subfloor is clean and free of dust and dirt. If necessary go over the area with a mop and tough cleaning agent. You will want the floor to be as clean as possible to be ready for the flooring "underlayer".
Lay Out a Vapor Barrier
For the protection of both your subfloor and the new laminate flooring, you will want to place an "underlayer", or vapor barrier over the subfloor. This will ward off potential problems with humidity and noise reduction. Depending on what type of laminate flooring you purchase, you may notice that the underlayer may already be included with the product. If you need to lay the vapor barrier manually, however, make sure that you do so carefully, as you will not have a chance to fix it after you've laid the laminate flooring.
Install the Flooring with the Room's Dimensions in Mind
It's usually recommended that laminate flooring be installed parallel to the longest wall in the installation room for ease of application. However, if you have the skill to do it correctly, you can install your flooring in a number of different patterns, even diagonally. Keep in mind that unorthodox patterns will probably require extra cutting and probably more wood.
Work From One End of the Room to the Other
For your own convenience, laying the individual laminate flooring pieces from one end of the room to the other will save you time and make the process easier. If you have the tongue-and-groove type pieces, the process is as simple as sliding each piece into the one next to it. One you get to the end of a row, you will probably need to cut the piece that will touch the wall. Measure the distance from the next to last piece to the wall and subtract about a quarter inch to get your cutting dimension. Cut the last piece accordingly, and use the remaining wood to start the next row. When you are cutting, make sure to cut the flooring with the decorative side facing you. This minimizes the natural chipping that will occur and keep the integrity of the surface.
Continue to lay out the laminate flooring row by row until you get to the other side of the room. You will probably need to cut the last row pieces lengthwise. Remember to cut them with the decorative side up. You will now be able to add the trim to the walls and place the doors back up. After you've done this, clean up thoroughly to remove the debris that accumulated during the installation process, and you will enjoy your freshly installed laminate floors!