Laminate flooring is one of the most versatile flooring materials, it can be laid on almost any surface provided that it is dry, firm and level. For old cement floors, self leveling compound can be used to even out the rough bumpy surfaces. For wooden floors, exposed nails and screws can damage the laminate flooring, make sure these are nailed down flat or screwed in all the way.
Before you start to lay your laminate flooring it is a good idea to consider adding underfloor heating. As your existing floor covering (if you have one) will be removed now is the ideal time to add underfloor heating before you lay your new laminate flooring. If you are interested in this very efficient form of heating, electric underfloor heating is a great place to start as it is quite easy to integrate.
There a few types of underlay available for laminate flooring, these underlay's need to be laid down before the actual laminate. We will briefly discuss the most common types of underlay's:
- Poly foam – the thinnest type, is suitable for any firm, dry and level surfaces, such as a wooden floor. Prepare the floor and if necessary lay a damp-proofing layer first. The layers need to be arranged next to each other and trimmed to size leaving ±10mm gaps around the pipes.
- Combined Underlay – this combines damp proofing and underlay in one material and can be laid down flat. It is slightly thicker than poly foam so can be laid on a slightly more uneven floor and provides better sound insulation. Tape the joins so that it retains its damp proofing capabilities.
- Wood Fibre Boards – this is the thickest underlay and can be used on more uneven floors because it is thicker and accommodates more irregularities. It provides good insulation for sound and heat. It will need an initial damp proofing layer if necessary. You will need to acclimatise the boards in the room for 24 hours before laying. The joints will need to be staggered and will need a 5mm gap between the boards and a 10mm gap from the pipes and walls.
LOC flooring boards have factory cut interlocking tongues for easy fitting and locking. It is also easy to release them if you wish to move the flooring. The panels need to be acclimatized to the room in which they are going to be laid – leave them in their approximate positions for at least 48 hours before laying.
Fitting the boards is relatively simple but care needs to be taken, laminate flooring expands and contracts naturally so space needs to be left around the edges of the room. Allow approximately 10 mm between the boards and the skirting, ‘fitting wedges’ or ‘expansion spacers’ will be provided for this purpose. You should lay the boards lengthways toward the light source of the room, start from the left hand side. Lay the first board with the short tongue against the wall. Fit your spacers between the wall and the board ensuring that the board is parallel to the wall.
The next board should be laid end-on to the first board making sure that the tongues lock together. To lock the tongues, slide the board in at 30 degrees so that it slots-in when lowered (fig 2). Continue this pattern until you reach the end of the row. The last board will probably have to be cut to fit. Lay it upside down over the last board with the end 10mm from the wall, draw a line where it overlaps over the penultimate board and cut it there with a Stanley knife (fig 3).
In order to strengthen the laminate, the boards need to be offset. To do this, start the second row with half a board then angle the long side at 30 degrees to lock the tongues. If you press forward and down at the same time it will lock into place.
Place the short end of the next board at an angle against the previous board and fold down, making sure the board is on the locking strip in the previous row. Angle the boards by 30° and push them against the row in front. When the boards are tightly together, push them down.
If you are very lucky the last row will fit perfectly but this is rarely the case. place a board at a time over the previous row. Place a third board on top with the tongue touching the skirting and use the edge to mark the cutting line on the board beneath. Cut the board and ease it into position, remove wedges.
After you have laid the flooring, you must remove the spacers around the outside, and cover the gap around the edge of the room with laminate flooring trim, which should match the floor. You will be fixing the trim to the skirting, not the floor, because the floor expands and contracts. Measure the trim and cut the correct lengths of the trim, use trim cutters to keep your work neat and presentable. Apply trim adhesive to the back of the trim, try not to get any of it on the bottom of the trim, this would stick to the floor and will interfere with the expansion of the floor. Press the trim into place and secure it with some heavy weights so that it dries properly.
Why not go to our video section on "laying laminate flooring" and watch films on how to install this versatile flooring.