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Installing a laminate floor

A typical laminate floor is installed as a floating system. This means that the boards or tiles are glued to one another but not attached to the floor. This allows the flooring to “float” without buckling or cracking as it expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity. To create a barrier between the floating floor and the immobile subfloor, you install a foam pad that is about ¼ inch thick.


Step 1. Make sure the existing flooring is in sound condition; then roll out the foam padding starting at one corner. If you are covering a concrete slab, most manufacturers require you to lay a polyethylene vapor barrier underneath the foam.


Step 2. Assemble the first two or three rows of boards by spreading glue along the tongues (inset) and pushing the boards together. Install plastic spacers between the boards and the edges of the floor. The gaps created by these spacers give the floor room to expand with increases in temperature and humidity without buckling.


Step 3. If you can’t push a board in place using only your hands, then gently drive the boards together using a soft wood block. Don’t strike the block too hard because this might cause damage to the tongue on the board. Remove any excess glue using a plastic putty knife.


Step 4. After you’ve installed three or four rows of boards, hold them with strap clamps, and let the glue set up for about an hour before continuing. As you progress across the floor, just lengthen the clamp straps.


Step 5. To measure the perimeter boards that need cutting, first lay a full plank over the last installed board. Use a third board, pushed against the wall, to scribe the board that needs cutting. Make the cut using a circular saw and a fine-tooth blade.


Laminate flooring has two things going for it: it is easy to install, and it can be made to look like anything, including wood, stone, ceramic tile, or any color of the rainbow. The inner fiberboard core provides dimensional stability and water resistance that make these products suitable for installation in a kitchen; the wear layers protect a decorative image. You can install laminate flooring over any substrate except carpeting. Simply make sure that the original flooring is clean and level. Most manufacturers require foam padding under the floor. A glue-type installation is shown opposite, but some manufacturers also offer a glue version where the individual components snap together.





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