Things worth knowing prior to installation day
The time has come, you know all that you needed to, you’ve visted our store and this website several times and have shopped smart to make your best purchase decision.
We would now like to offer you two very important words of advice: be prepared. The time has come for your new laminate flooring to be installed.
Being prepared will help insure that the installation process goes efficiently and smooth and will be a lot less stressful on you, your family and your home.
Let the pros do the job is our first advice. Installing this type of flooring by yourself is very difficult and labor intensive.
We highly recommend that you hire reliable professionals to do all of the work for you. This way you will be assured that the installation will be efficient and correct and will result in a beautiful floor.
However, while installing laminate flooring is a skill that is developed through years of experience, your understanding of the basics of installation will increase your knowledge of the process and enhance your confidence in the professionals working in your home.
Numerous creators, yet a single process. Today there are several manufacturers that produce laminate flooring products.
Most manufacturers have their own specific installation guidelines, however the overall process is the same.
“Floating floors” are used for laminate floor installation. This is where the laminate tiles or planks lay on top of the floor without being adhered to the subfloor. They are simply adhered to one another on the edges.
Side seams are joined using a “glueless” installation where each piece interlocks with another, or they are glued together. Both of these installation methods are considered floating floors.
First, your floor goes under the glass. The first step an installer takes when installing a laminate floor is to closely inspect your subfloor for any flaws.
While no floors are perfectly level, it is very important to check the subfloor for any noticeable ridges or gaps that may cause problems.
Next, your floor is cleaned. Installers make sure that the laminate tiles or planks have had sufficient time to acclimate to their new environment. Most likely this will be done by delivering it several days before installation.
Understand underlayment, for it’s the next step. The installers will then put down an underlayment on top of your subfloor. This allows the floor to expand and contract with the changes in temperature and acts as a sound and moisture barrier.
In some installations, there can be two underlayment layers.
The first layer is installed to specifically act as a moisture barrier while the second layer provides a sound barrier and enhances your flooring’s performance.
The underlayment is typically rolled out and taped together at the seams.
Installers will cut the pieces of underlayment where needed to make it a perfect fit.
Now your laminate tiles or planks are laid. Most installers begin installation in the left corer of a room and leave a minimum of ¼” space between the perimeter walls and the flooring. The reason this is done is that the flooring requires space around the edges to expand and/or contract.
If this “breathing room” is not left, it is possible that the floor will express its discontent. If the floor touches the wall it is possible that it can buckle in the middle.
Installers will use spacers along the wall to ensure accuracy of the gaps between the flooring and walls.
One spacer is used for each square foot. Once your floor is fully installed, the spacers will be removed and the gap will be filled in with a wall base or quarter round trim.
As the flooring is laid in the desired pattern, the installers will precisely cut and carefully measure them to fit.
Clueless about glueless? Here’s what to know. As mentioned earlier, many laminates today don’t require glue for their installation.
Glueless laminate has largely impacted the laminate flooring industry. There are several reasons why glueless laminate is so popular, most importantly they are easy to install. All the installer has to do is put down the underlayment and interlock each piece of laminate to each other.
If something were to go wrong during installation, the floor could be dismantled tile by tile, or plank by blank and be re-built.
If a tile or plank is damaged after installation, the entire floor can be removed, the damaged tile or plank replaced and the floor be put back together.
Understand that some floors need glue. For floors that require glue on the sides of the tiles or planks, the installers begin by gluing the first two panels in the first row together.
As with glueless, they start in the left-hand corner and glue the first row together at the ends. As they glue each tile or plank, they will also use straps or apply clamps to hold the pieces together.
Tiles or planks will usually fit together easily; however, installers will sometimes use a tapping block to fit the boards together
For installations that use glue, once the floor is completed and the glue is dry, installers then remove the spacers.
To finish your floor, the installers will add molding that covers the perimeter gap and install any additional transition trim pieces needed in doorways or where the laminate meets a different type of flooring.
Custom trim and molding will give your laminate floor a beautiful, finished look. This is coordinated to accentuate or match the design of the floor. These are all steps of professional installation.
For your knowledge, here are some finishing terms and definitions.
Reducer Strip is used to create a smooth transition between two floors of different heights, as well as protect the plank or tile exposed edges from damage caused by foot traffic.
Overlapping Stair Nosing is similar to a flush stair nosing except the nosing overlaps the exposed edge of your floor.
The overlapping stair nosing is secured to the subfloor and not to the laminate floor so the floor is free to move. Recall the “floating floor” idea we mentioned earlier in this section.
T-Molding is used to bridge two areas of flooring that are the exact same height.
The T-Molding overlaps the exposed edges of the floor and is secured only to the subfloor, never to the flooring itself.
Generally this trim is used as the transition piece between rooms, or as the expansion piece for areas that exceed 30 feet in length.
Universal Edge is also called a Square Nosing and is used where the laminate flooring butts up to carpeting, or various vertical surfaces where the edge will be exposed, such as along a fireplace.
Quarter Round gives the floor a finished look and protects the edges of your laminate flooring.
The result is a beautiful, professionally installed laminate floor.
What to know and do before installation day
Furniture is the first step. Make sure to remove all furniture and objects from the area where installation will take place. Some installers may move your furniture; however, there is normally an additional charge.
It is important that the area where installation takes place be climate controlled. By this, we mean either heated or air-conditioned. Indoor humidity should be maintained between 45-65%.
What about your old floor covering? Please consider how your old floor covering will be removed and disposed of. Removal of old flooring is usually a time consuming task and we recommend that you check with us about the proper method of disposal and additional costs.
If you are removing your old floor covering, please make sure to do it at least one day prior to the delivery of your new laminate product. This allows for proper cleanup and floor preparation. If you are removing carpet, please leave all the tack strips in place and pull all staples out of the floor.
Know what to do with your trim. In many cases, moldings and baseboards need to be removed for laminate installation. Your installer may do this but at an additional charge and they will probably not be responsible for damage or breakage due to dry or brittle wood.
After installation, it is most likely that some woodwork and painted baseboards will need to be retouched. If this is the case, it will be your responsibility.
Subflooring is next. Some subfloors will need to be prepared to receive laminate flooring. It is possible that you may need a completely new subfloor. This is something that we suggest you discuss with us, and if you do need a new subfloor, it is important that qualified professionals install it.
Doors need your attention. After the installation of new laminate, there is always a possibility that the new height of your floor may be too tall for the doors in that room. Some installers will remove the doors while installing the laminate and re-hang them. If your floor is higher than it was before, you will need to shave or cut down the doors to insure clearance. Please make sure that the professionals will do this for you, if they will not, we recommend that you hire a qualified carpenter to provide this service for you.
Follow-up on the clean-up. Installing new laminate will produce waste.
Usually these materials are collected by your installer and left at your trash collection site. Check with us before the day of installation so you’re clear about the clean up, if there are added costs to do so, and ask about the plan for laminate remnants.
What to know and do during installation day
Installation day is a stay at home day. It is important that you are prepared to stay at home the day of installation. You need to be available in case there are questions from the installation crew, to make sure the correct laminate is being installed in the correct areas, etc. It is sometimes difficult to estimate the length and circumstances of each individual job. We will keep you updated on the installer’s schedule.
Your safety is top priority. Installers use a wide variety of tools and techniques that may make the work area hazardous. Please make sure to keep you, your children and pets out of the work area unless requested by the installers.
The walk-thru is a key step. It is highly recommended that prior to installation, a walk through with you and our installation chief take place. This gives you and us the opportunity to ask questions and make sure we are clear on the entire process.
What to know and do after installation day
Air on the healthy side. If you are sensitive to dust and odors, good ventilation should be established for 48 to 72 hours after installation.
Be in the know by having a plan. Preparation for installation day is very important. This comes with careful planning and will make everything much easier for you and the installers. It will also make your laminate flooring experience enjoyable right from day one.