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Friday, July 24, 2009

Laminate Flooring Goes Down Fast

Today I was helping a new friend install some laminate flooring as he gets his house ready for twins. I'm not sure the flooring will help with dirty diapers, but it will be one less thing for the "honey-do" list, right?

Anyway, laminate is a popular upgrade from carpet that is considerably less expensive and easier to install than real hardwoods. Of course, there's nothing like the real thing, but for the price, laminates look great and come in lots of varieties.

Like laying hardwoods, it seemed to work best to start with the 'groove' side toward the wall and work out from there. It's good to come up with a pattern so that all the seams don't line up. I alternated from small/medium/large every three rows. This worked well with the cuts so that we didn't have lots of waste.

The installation procedure goes like this:

1. Take the piece and raise the opposite edge while sliding the 'groove' side under the tongue of the piece you are joining. Don't worry about matching the ends up yet.

2. Once the pieces are hugging tightly, lower it slowly and tap it with a block until they 'click' together. Don't tap on the tongue. Instead, put your block just above the tongue against the top portion of the flooring, being careful not to chip the laminate.

3. With the length joined, use your block to tap from one end until the other end 'clicks' as well.

That's basically it. Repeat for every piece. Some will need to be cut or notched depending on the room's layout. Be careful to make sure you are running square to the walls. You may want to put blocks against the wall because the entire floor will tend to shift as you're working, because this is a floating floor.

Laminate or engineered wood flooring is said to be a floating floor because it is not fastened down to the subfloor in any way- no glue or nails, etc. A slight gap around the edges, covered by baseboard and shoe moulding, allows for expansion and contraction with changes in humidity.
Keep a small pry bar on hand for applying pressure to the pieces when you get close to walls. Make sure you put a wide block under the bar before prying against the drywall or you may add a drywall repair to your project!

Many people find that installing laminate flooring is an easy do-it-yourself project. Today's room took me about 1 day to fully complete. Some tools like a table saw will come in very handy for the last row that is likely going to be a partial width and need to be trimmed.

With this floor down, that grand piano will sound even better.


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