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Laminate Flooring

Flooring Installation: The Art & The Science

Last Updated on January 6, 2020

Remember that when you install a granite countertop in a room where you’re planning to have hardwood flooring, always compare and match samples of both materials.  Darker red granites go well with blonde woods.  Green granites naturally complement browns, and so on.

But before you worry about the more elevated aesthetic concerns, you have to establish what your budget is.  You know what they say: you’ve got to spend money to make money!  You have to invest in your home’s appearance to increase your equity and standard of living.  But you’ve got to have money to spend it!  That’s always the kicker, isn’t it?  So there’s an art and a science to selecting and installing the ideal materials to decorate your home.  The art involves discernment.  The science involves budgeting and expertise.

Remodeling a home is a large investment. Not just with funds, but with your time. If you’re trying to save money by remodeling your home yourself, the task is a large one to undertake. Between new cabinets, countertops, expanding the space in your home by knocking down and building new walls, it can take months to complete. One of the biggest tasks is installing a new floor. Whether you’re laying new carpet, tile, laminate or hardwood, careful attention to detail and budget is important when installing a new floor.

But installing a new floor doesn’t have to bust your remodeling budget. One inexpensive option we recommend is laminate floors. It looks just like hardwood, but is more friendly to your wallet than real hardwood flooring and cheap laminate flooring is easy to clean. This flooring can also handle high traffic areas.

Prep Before You Buy

Before buying any new flooring, determine the condition of your current floor. Fix any rotted wood subflooring by placing in new plywood. Although many laminate flooring manufacturers claim the laminate flooring can go over existing carpeting, consider pulling out the old carpet to give the most even and stable surface. If the new floors are going on top of concrete, apply patches of cement in places where the floor dips. You may have to skim a light coat of cement over the entire surface if there are too many dips or humps to the floor.

When you make your purchase, always buy more flooring than you need. Even if you are only adding laminate flooring to one room, you’ll have extra if you make any mistakes in cutting the pieces during the initial install, or if the laminate flooring becomes nicked or gouged in the future.

Do-It-Yourself Flooring Installation

Remove the baseboard in the room, if necessary, and lay down the underlay pad onto the floor.This is a type of vapor barrier that will protect the flooring from moisture and mildew. Set down the strips according to the manufacturer’s instructions, either by laying side-by-side or abutting the pieces. And make sure to check the underside of the laminate wood. Sometimes the manufacture creates flooring with the underlay already attached.

Place the new laminate flooring in the room where it will be installed. Take off the plastic and let it sit for 24 to 72 hours. This allows the floor to acclimate to the temperature and humidity of the room.

While you wait, this is a good time to measure the height of the boards to the doors of the room and decide whether you will cut the door jambs so you can slide the boards underneath. Also, if you have places along the wall where there are gaps where the drywall doesn’t meet the subfloor, this is a good time to install pieces of plywood into those gaps. Simply use the circular saw to cut the 1/4-inch plywood about two-inches to three-inches wide and add it as facing strips.
Time to lay out the flooring.

Start at the longest wall in the room. Place the first row of boards down on the subfloor without interconnecting them just yet. You want to get an idea of your end cuts. Have the boards with the tongue side facing the wall and the groove side facing you. Cut off the tongue with the circular saw (a table saw works great for this also). You will only have to do this with the first row.

Place in the 1/4-inch spacer against the wall and set the floor piece up against it. This gap allows the floor to contract and expand during seasonal temperature changes. Connect the next adjoining piece of laminate floor board based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the tapping block and rubber mallet to make sure the seams are joined securely.

Continue to join pieces, with spacers placed every 12-inches, until you get to the side wall. Often, you will have to cut this piece of flooring to fit. Take the measurements and mark the underside of the wood board. Use the circular saw to cut the wood, bottom side up, to the correct measurement. Tap the floor piece into place.
Start with your next row of laminate boards.

Stagger the boards 8-inches to 12-inches offset to the seams of the first row. This gives a unique pattern and strengthens the seams without leaving gaps. Place down the flooring until reaching the far wall, rip cutting the last boards down the width to fit. To attach the tongues into the grooves for the last row, place a pull bar on the board and tap the mallet against it unto the board snaps into place.

Now it’s time to remove the spacers. Reinstall your baseboard to cover the gap, and add a bit of shoe molding by nailing it to the baseboard.
Follow these instructions and voila!  Your floor is finished!  Now you’ll have a beautiful space to stand on for years to come.

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