A laminate flooring installation should fit extremely well into a busy household, where cleaning chores need to be simplified as much as possible. Provided that you follow the installation and maintenance instructions carefully, a laminate hardwood floor is likely to save you time, while adding elegance and style to your decor. Here are the answers to ten of the most frequently asked laminate flooring installation questions.
1. What Is Laminate Flooring And Can I Install It Myself?
If you have an affinity for real hardwood floors, but can’t afford them and prefer not to have the maintenance misery associated with them, you will love laminate flooring. The quality of these floors are now such that it is difficult to distinguish between real wood and laminates. The grains of the different woods are emulated to perfection, with texture and weathering thrown in as a bonus.
Laminate flooring planks consist of four or five fused layers. The base layer is normally reinforced with melamine. This is followed with the core of high density fiberboard, impregnated with sealing substances. Then there is the design layer, followed by the tough wear layer and an aluminum oxide finish. The planks are resistant to stains, fading, scuffing and water.
Innovative engineering has led to the development of glueless laminate flooring installations, popular among do it yourself enthusiasts. The planks have a tongue and groove design that simply click or snap together for an amazingly simple and quick installation. Although professional flooring contractors can be involved, this isn’t necessary. Even a novice can tackle this home remodeling task with confidence.
2. What Is An Expansion Space?
A laminate flooring installation is a floating floor that is not affixed to the sub-floor. These hardwood floors always contract and expand due to humidity and temperature changes. To make provision for these shifts, laminate floors are never installed with the planks fitting snugly against walls or cabinets. It is vital to leave a space right around the perimeter. If you neglect to do this, you will soon be confronted with a buckling floor.
Every manufacturer prescribes the exact expansion space needed for their particular product. You will be able to use spacers to ensure that this provision is accurate. The size of the floor you are tackling in your home improvement project, will also dictate the size of the expansion space. Make sure that you get this right if you want to retain the looks of your flooring.
3. Will I Be Able To Install Laminate Flooring In A Bathroom?
Many laminate flooring products are suitable for use in bathrooms and kitchens, where there is always more of a moisture risk. Check with your supplier if you are unsure. The most important factor here is your diligence during the installation process. Every expansion space needs to be sealed perfectly with your caulking gun, to ensure that moisture can’t seep into the core of the flooring. Once this happens, you will have problems with buckling, warping and blistering.
In the case of bathroom and kitchen flooring, the recommendation usually also is to use glue in the joints. This will act as an additional sealant, helping to protect your flooring.
4. How Do I Finish The Areas Around Doorways?
All the manufacturers supply ranges of color-coordinated decorative moldings for use in doorways, for transitions between different flooring finishes, and around cabinets, basins or tubs. These make it straightforward to ensure that your flooring has a professional finish. In a doorway, you will install a T-molding.
5. Is It Safe To Install Laminate Flooring On Stairs?
A laminate flooring installation can be done on stairs. In this case however, you don’t need an underlayment. The flooring planks are adhered to the subfloor with glue. As a finish, stair noses are glued and nailed to the stairs. Just be very careful if you have been cleaning the flooring. Any dampness may cause the stairs to be extremely slippery.
6. What Is The AC Rating?
One of the most important aspects of a laminate hardwood floor installation, is matching the flooring to the traffic it will be bombarded with. Using a low quality, thin floor in a high traffic area will be disastrous. The AC Rating has been devised to help consumers when they have to make a buying decision.
The AC Rating of between 1 and 5 gives an indication of the suitability of the flooring planks for a particular area. In most residential situations, an AC Rating of 3 is high enough to ensure durability. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that a higher rating will give your flooring a longer life. While this may be the case, a higher rating also comes with a rougher surface texture that can be tough on bare feet and socks.
7. I Love A Tiled Look. Is There A Laminate Flooring Option For Me?
A fairly recent development in the laminate flooring installation industry, is the introduction of planks with an extremely authentic ceramic or stone tile appearance, complete with realistic grout lines. Just imagine getting the tiled look you adore, without any of the grout messes. No more cracking, moldy, discolored grout to spoil your hard work. Just a smooth, multi-hued tiled look clicked together within a day. This truly is a decorating and interior design dream come true.
8. Doesn’t Laminate Flooring Have A Plastic Look?
With the latest engineering, the days of plastic, fake-looking laminates are over. You will be amazed at the authenticity of the real wood or stone tile designs. Textures can be refined to be completely realistic. Planks are now beveled to come even closer to the real thing. In addition, weathering has been brought in to give that unique warm and rustic real hardwood appearance.
9. Do I Need To Acclimate My Laminate Flooring Planks?
Some manufacturers stipulate that the unopened boxes of flooring planks should be stored horizontally in the room where they will be installed, for a period of around 48 hours. This gives the planks a chance to acclimate. Your supplier should be able to give you the correct instructions. Alternatively, you can go to the manufacturer’s website for more information. Make sure that you allow for this period when you do your planning. Don’t rush into the installation. Follow the instructions to the letter if you don’t want to void your warranty.
10. What Do I Do If There Is A Nasty Scratch On My Floor?
One of the main benefits of a laminate flooring installation, is that you can repair minor mishaps with ease, and replace a whole section of flooring in the event of a serious calamity. It is always better to try and prevent scratches by using felt pads under furniture, keeping pet nails trimmed, and avoiding spiked shoes. Entrance rugs are also a good idea, as they catch some of the gravel and grit before it gets onto the flooring. If there are scratches, color-coordinated pens are available to make them less conspicuous.
For more noticeable scratches, a filling putty can be used. Neaten the edges of the area with a small, sharp knife. Fill it with putty, and smooth the surface gently with a plastic scraper. Wipe excess away with a damp cloth and your floor should be as good as new.
Follow the laminate flooring installation guidelines to the letter, give your flooring the tender loving care it deserves, and you will enjoy its good looks for years to come.