How to Lay Laminate Flooring
Laying Laminate Flooring
Until recently the materials available for laying a wooden floor were limited to parquet and other solid timbers, which required a healthy bank balance to buy and specialist knowledge to fit. The recent innovation of timber laminate flooring, which comprises lengths of decorative timber bonded to a cheaper backing, has addressed both these points, providing an easy-to-fit and relatively cheap wooden flooring that looks good, is hardwearing and with minimal care will outlast many other floor coverings.
The general principals of laying a laminate floor are the same irrespective of the manufacturer, but there are subtle differences between makes so do not mix types. Some of the most recent types have tongue and groove joints that require noand simply snap together. If you use this type then follow the instructions shown below omitting the stages that refer to . Strips should be laid up and down the room, and it often looks best if they run in the direction of the longest dimension.
If the room is square, run the strips away from the strongest light source.
Tools for the Job:
- tape measure & pencil
- club hammer & bolster
- claw hammer or screwdriver
- metal plasterer’s trowel
- If laying on a concrete screed, carefully remove any protruding nibs that might prevent the floor from laying level. On wooden subfloors, nail or down any sections that are loose and ensure that all raised nail heads are punched below the surface. Lay a straightedge across the floor at several points checking for humps and hollows – if any are greater than 6mm (5/16in) the floor will need levelling. Mix up latex levelling compound in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and, using a metal plasterer’s trowel, spread it across the entire floor. It sets fast so do not mix too much at once or try to spread it on too thickly.
- Once the compound has dried, roll out the recommended underlay, which will provide an even, soundproof cushion. Underlay material is usually either polystyrene or thin cork. Lay it across the room at 90° to the eventual direction of the laminate strips, holding it in position with sticky tape. Do not overlap any joints, butt them instead and attach them with a little more tape.
- Lay the first row of boards with the grooved side towards the wall. Place the wedges behind this first strip, if supplied, otherwise use some scraps of timber to give a 12mm (9/16in) expansion gap at the wall.
- Run a bead of white wood PVA into the end groove, then push it by hand onto the tongue of the board already laid. If there is still a gap, place a scrap of flooring against the edge of the board and tap home. Use a plastic, rubber or wooden mallet and be careful not to damage the edge of the boards. Continue until you have laid a complete row of strips down one edge of the room.
- The edges of the boards are glued in the same way but ensure that joins with adjacent boards are staggered brickwork fashion for strength and appearance. No joint should be any closer than 150mm (6in) to any other joint. Wipe off any glue that squeezes out of the joints straight away with a damp cloth.
- Use a sharp panel saw to cut any boards to length. When cutting to size remember to maintain the 12mm (9/16in) expansion gap. Provided the offcut board is more than 150mm (6in), it may be used to start the next row.
- You may need to cut the last row to width. Check the distance from the wall to the face edge of the last full board and transfer these marks to the closing board, measuring from the grooved edge. Deduct 12mm (9/16in) for the expansion gap and cut to size. Run glue into the joint, drop the board into the gap and use the wrecking bar to force the tongue into the groove.
- Leave the room for a minimum of of 12 hours, during which One you should try to avoid walking on the laminate flooring to give the glue a chance to set. The final step is to cover the expansion joint with strips of moulding. Do not nail the moulding into the floor, rather fix it into the wall or skirting to allow for expansion and contraction of the new flooring.
Tips of the Trade
When laying laminate flooring, by kneeling on the section of floor you have just completed, this will hold it in place and make tapping in the new sections just that little bit easier. If you bought the tilting kit then the manufacturer will have supplied a hammering block to protect plank edges as you knock them together, otherwise use an offcut of flooring.