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Installing A Laminate Floor

Grade levels for laminate floors Laminate floors are meant to be floated over a variety of sub floors and never secured directly to any substrate. In other words, the laminate flooring just lays on top of the sub floor, which can be wood, concrete, or an existing floor. This allows the laminate flooring to expand and contract freely as the room humidity levels change. Laminate floors come in planks and tile squares of various sizes and shapes. All four sides of each plank have a tongue and grooved edge for locking them together.

Most brands of laminate flooring no longer require specials glues to secure the tongue and groove joints together. Instead, most laminate floors now have some sort of special glueless locking systems which makes installation much easier. There are also laminate floors which have the glue pre-applied along the tongue and the glue is activated by touching the tongue with a damp sponge. Many of the better grade laminate floors have all plank edges pre-sealed at the factory to help prevent moisture from attacking the inner core structure.

Special polyurethane underlay is laid down prior to installing laminate flooring. This helps the floor to float freely over the top. Some of the more expensive underlayments reduce sound transmissions and restrict moisture from wicking up from underneath.

Floating Installation

Floating Floor Installation

Laminate floors all use the floating floor installation. This means the laminate planks are never secured directly to the sub-floor, instead the planks are all locked together and float freely over the top of the sub-floor. Acclimating the planks to the room for several days prior to installation is essential to avoid planks bowing and cupping. Also, make sure the subfloor is perfectly level or you will have problems getting planks to lock together. (Plus, planks that are not properly acclimated or subfloors that have uneven areas can cause the floor to squeak when walked on after installation.) Never pound on plank edges during installation or try to force planks together. This will only make fitting planks together even more difficult.

Glueless Laminate Floor Installation

Most laminate flooring manufacturers today offer glueless laminate floors. These floors do not require any glue to lock the planks together and are often referred too as "clic-floors". The tongue and grooves are specially designed to lock together and not come a part from foot traffic. Be sure to read the manufacturer's recommended installation procedures before installing. (Note: The subfloor needs to level (flat) in order for the planks to easily interlock together.)

Glued Laminate Floors

Below is a general outline of the various tools used to install a glued laminate floor. this is where you glue the tongues and grooves together. You never glue a laminate floor directly to the sub-floor. Always follow the manufacturer's installation instructions and use the manufacturer's recommended installation tools. (Note: Almost all laminate floors today a glueless floating floors.)

laminate tools
  1. Glue - most laminate floors require a special glue to secure the planks together and help seal moisture from penetrating the core.
  2. Fillers & Sealants - some laminate manufacturers have added color coordinating fillers and sealants. The colored fillers are to fix seam gaps between planks and the sealant is used around the perimeter where moisture may enter.
  3. Straps - straps work much better than clamps at pulling plank rows together. Normally you need a strap set for every four feet in the starter rows.
  4. Tapping Block - the tapping blocks are used to lightly tap two planks together. Most blocks are designed to fit a specific manufacturers tongue and groove design.
  5. Wedges - the V-shaped wedges are used to insure a minimum gap is left between the laminate floor and all vertical walls. Consult manufacturer's installation for required gap distances.
  6. Pulling Bar - the bar is used to help pull two pieces of laminate together. Care must be used with these bars so as to not chip the surface of the laminate plank.
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