Among the many floor coverings, laminate is the most popular and practical material that has a wood structure and an attractive look. In contrast to parquet, laminated floor panels have a much lower price. And in terms of their properties, they are not much inferior to more expensive parquet flooring. Another huge advantage of laminate flooring is the ease of installation, which does not require special skills. Even an inexperienced person can cope with the work if he follows certain rules set out in the article. So, first you need to buy a laminate and bring it home, after which it will take several days for the material to “acclimatize” to the temperature and humidity of the room where it will be laid. The laminate itself consists of panels that are about 20 cm wide, from one to one and a half meters long, and 6-11 mm thick. The connection of the panels is due to the locking structure, which is easily fixed and securely holds the panels together.
What tools are needed to install laminate flooring?
Before you start laying the laminate, you should prepare and assemble all the necessary tools. This is a fairly large list that will be needed to carry out the work. The list includes 8 tools and materials. Let’s take a closer look at each separately to understand where and how to apply them.
Hammer – no repairs can be done without this tool, and laminate flooring is no exception. Moreover, without this tool, it is simply not possible to install laminated panels. The hammer should be selected with a mass of approximately 500-600 grams. This will make it convenient to use. Too heavy can accidentally damage the panels, so this is the best weight.
Square – used to mark the boundaries along which the laminate will be sawn, if necessary, to fit the required dimensions. It is best to use a metal square that has a strong base and will not get damaged during the installation of the laminate. The length of the tool should be about 23-30 cm.
Pencil – everything is quite simple with this, because without marking the cut lines directly, it will not be possible to cut the material exactly. A special pencil can be purchased at a hardware store, but regular office supplies will do.
Roulette – measuring the length and width of laminated panels without this tool is simply impossible. When choosing the length of the tape measure, consider the size of the room. Usually a 5 meter tape is enough.
Tamping block – This tool helps to connect laminate panels together. Gently knocking with a hammer, the attached block to the panel, the lock engages and locks. It is better to use a plastic block than a wooden block, as it has a softer structure and will not damage the material.
Hacksaw – everything is clear with this tool, because you will need to cut laminated panels, so you cannot do without it. It is best to use a hacksaw with fine teeth and a wide blade.
Boundary Wedges – Required to create a gap between the wall and laminate panels. This gap should be about 10 mm.
Scotch tape – used to join the edges of the backing sheet together. It is better to use a special masking tape, but regular stationery will do.
Laminate, unlike other floor coverings, has higher requirements for the unevenness of the floor surface on which it will lie. An uneven floor deforms the material and the joints may come apart. The permissible value per square meter is 0.5 cm. A larger indicator will lead to undesirable consequences in the future and additional costs for correcting the resulting defects. Different floor surfaces require their own approach to installing laminate flooring. Let’s look at three main ones – concrete floor, wood floor, and tile or linoleum surface.
Preparation of the concrete subfloor
When repairing and laying the laminate, the old coating is removed and the condition of the concrete floor is checked. It should be smooth and free from significant flaws. If there are significant irregularities, the surface should be leveled with self-leveling mortar. This is not difficult enough – you need to purchase cement, sand and prepare a solution that is evenly distributed over the floor surface. You can buy a special ready-made free-flowing mixture that is mixed with water in certain proportions and a solution is obtained. When leveling, a reinforcing mesh is used so that the floor does not crack. After all the leveling work is completed and the floor has dried well (about 20-30 days), we proceed to the next stage of laying the floor covering. It should be noted that a layer of vapor barrier material must be applied to the concrete surface before laying the laminate. This material is a polyethylene film with a thickness of at least 200 microns. The joints are fixed with tape.
Preparing a wooden sub-floor
If you decide to lay your laminate on the wood surface of an old parquet or plank floor, make sure that the floor surface is perfectly flat. If there are irregularities somewhere, then they should be corrected. Replace or reinforce loose parquet floorboards and grind unevenness if necessary. Also, the wooden base for laying the laminate should be free of rot and the presence of a biological factor (wood bugs, mold, etc.). This is very important, as it will eventually ruin your new floor and bring significant financial costs. The ideal way to level the old wooden floor surface is to lay sheets of plywood or chipboard on top. Laying should be done in a checkerboard pattern. In this case, it is not required to carry out vapor barrier, but it is necessary to carry out sound insulation. The noise when walking on laminate flooring will be much higher if placed on a wooden surface. For this, a special soundproofing substrate is used.
Preparation of a linoleum or tile base
When laying laminate on a surface that is made of linoleum or tiles, there are no special problems. Typically, such bases have a flat surface and allow you to start working on the installation of laminated wood panels without additional preparation. If it is linoleum, then the surface under it, as a rule, is well aligned initially, with the same tiles. Next, a simple laminate underlay is used and the panels themselves are laid. If, nevertheless, floor irregularities are present in this case, then it is recommended to remove the old coating and level the floor according to building rules.
Laminate laying technology
After preparing the subfloor, leveling it and, if necessary, conducting vapor barrier, sound insulation, you can proceed directly to laying the laminate. So, the installation of the laminate begins with the installation of spacers in the corner of the room from where the installation of wooden floor panels will begin. This is done in order to leave a gap of 10 mm between the wall and the laminate panel. Since the material tends to expand under the influence of ambient temperature and humidity, the gap will not allow the panels to deform. After laying the floor, the spacer wedges are removed. You can start laying from any corner of the room, but as experts advise, it is better to lay the laminate along the sun’s rays that will shine from the window. The joints of the panels will be less noticeable.
First of all, the first panel of the first row is laid, then the first panel of the second row is laid, but at the same time it is cut in half. This is done in order to lay the laminate in the form of a checkerboard, which will give an even distribution of the load during the operation of the floor covering. Next, the second panel is laid in the first row, and then the second panel in the second row. This happens until you cover the entire area of the room with panels. The last stage of installation is the installation of the skirting boards, for which holes are pre-drilled in the wall. There are two types of laying – lock and adhesive. Let’s take a closer look at both.
Castle laying laminate
This method involves laying laminated wood panels without the use of fasteners. The joints between the laminate panels are made in the form of locks, which are joined together and form a strong system. It is quite simple to mount panels, no special knowledge is required here, and even a beginner can do the job. There are two types of locks for fastening laminated parts together, let’s take a closer look at each separately. This option is used for apartments and small spaces where additional bonding is not required.
Click-lock – this is the most common type of lock, which has a “thorn” and “groove” designs. It has practically supplanted other types for its simplicity and reliability. Docking takes place at an angle of 30 degrees until the lock clicks, and then it is driven in with a tamping block until the two laminate panels are fully connected.
Lock-lock – with this type of lock fastening, the panels lie horizontally to each other, and the groove of one panel is inserted into the groove of the other. After that, the pad is tamped and the lock is snapped into place.
Adhesive installation of laminate
The only difference between the adhesive laying of the laminate from the lock is the additional gluing of the joints with special glue. This gives a greater reliability of the joint, as a result of which the life of the wooden floor covering is significantly extended. In addition, the joints are protected from moisture, which will also have a beneficial effect on the operational properties of the laminate. Cool styling requires good drying of the glued joints, therefore it is recommended to use the coating for its intended purpose after 10 hours. The adhesive is used with a water repellent property. It is better not to skimp on glue, as some do, and not to use simple PVA. A special adhesive can be purchased at any building supermarket. This option is used more often in rooms with a large area where additional bonding is required, since the laminate can disperse in this case.
When shouldn’t the laminate be installed?
Laminate is not a versatile floor covering and you should know when it is not recommended to install it. Do not place laminated wood panels on carpets. Also, it is impossible to glue the laminate and fix it in other ways to the floor surface. In rooms with high humidity, such as a bath, a bathhouse and other similar places, it is also not recommended to do this, because the material is afraid of water and quickly deforms under the influence of intense moisture. Not every laminate is suitable for installation as a topcoat on a cabled or matt electric underfloor heating system. Laying laminate in the kitchen or hallway should be with a high wear resistance class. In this case, it is imperative to seal the locking systems with an adhesive.