How to Lay a Laminate Floor
Real wood is an expensive option, so if you don’t have an existing floor that you can restore (or don’t want the bother of stripping), a popular alternative is a laminate or floating floor.
Laminates are formed by fusing an image of wood onto MDF (particleboard) or condensedand protecting it with layers of transparent laminate so it looks like a hard floor finish. Laminate boards resemble floorboards but are only about 10 mm (1/2in) thick. They are tongued-and-grooved to fit together easily.
A laminate floor is easy to clean and non-allergenic, but as noisy underfoot as most hard floors. If you are laying over a hard floor, and especially in an upstairs apartment, the insulating membrane usually supplied with the laminate may not be enough. You will need to consider some form of extra insulation under the laminate or even insulating between the joists. Laminate can be laid over almost any other type of flooring, and if you predict problems with noise, you might consider laying it over a ready-fitted carpet, although this is not ideal.
Before you start
Ensure the sub-floor is sound and flat. You can remove the skirting boards (baseboards), although this is not essential and they can be fiddly to replace.
• strong pair of scissors
• steel measuring tape
• pre-cut wooden spacers 6 mm (¼ in) thick
• set-square or straight-edge
• craft knife
• hand tenon or crosscut saw
• tapping block
•, in a gun laying laminate boards
1. Cut the foam insulating membrane in lengths and cover the existing floor, fitting it neatly into the corners.
2. Start in the corner furthest away from the door. Lay the first laminate board against the wall. Spreadsparingly on the end tongue and slot on a second board. Work down the length of the room parallel to any existing boards, inserting spacers between the boards and the wall.
3. To complete the first row with a part-board, carefully measure and mark the board with a set-square/straight-edge and pencil. Score the mark with the craft knife and cut cleanly with the saw.
4. To lay the second row, apply thealong the length as well as the end tongue. The boards will slot together quite easily. Tap them home with the tapping block and hammer. If any excess adhesive oozes out, wipe it off with a damp cloth immediately.
5. Continue laying the floor, length by length, across the room, staggering the joins so that you do not get a noticeable seam. You may have to cut the last row of boards lengthways to fit — remember to allow for the 6 mm (1/4 in) space between the floor and the wall.
6. Leave the floor to dry, and take precautions to ensure that no one walks on it before the glue is completely set.
7. Remove all the spacers. Cut lengths of 2 cm (3/4 in) quadrant (quarter-circle wood trim) to fit around the perimeter of the room, to cover the gap between the laminate and the wall. Glue the skirting (baseboard) face of the quadrant only, so the floor can still move — this is why it is called a floating floor.
Although laminate flooring is tough and hard-wearing, it should not be saturated with water. Mopping the floor with excess water could cause the boards to swell and begin to push up. Use a damp mop or cloth only, and always wipe up any spills immediately.