If you're looking at updating the floors in your home, here is an overview of one of the most popular options. Laminate flooring is extremely durable and simple to install and has many advantages over traditional hardwood floors. This article will give you same basic information as well as tips on choosing and caring for your floor.
What Is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is a tongue and groove inter-locking flooring system. It is not a new product. It has been popular in Europe for over 30 years. It has recently become a very popular flooring solution in the US, and is currently one of the fastest-growing flooring category in the United States.
It is always installed over the existing sub-strait, and simply lays there - hence it's reference as a "floating floor". "Floating" is a flooring term that simply means that the new floor is not attached to the floor underneath-no nailing or gluing is required. Only the planks of new floor are attached to each other, and the body of the floor remains unattached to the appropriate underlayment. It can be installed over plywood, concrete slab, sheet vinyl flooring, hardwood flooring, or virtually any other flat, solid surface.
The flooring itself consists of two parts, a HDF - High Density Fiberboard backer, with an Aluminum Oxide surface layer. Most laminates are 7.0 or 8.0mm thick, but are also available up to 1/4" thickness. The wear surface, the Aluminum Oxide top layer, is the durable, hard surface that is exposed and highly resistant to dents, scratches and fading. Also, many laminates are embossed on the surface, that is, they are textured to give a more realistic appearance of wood.
What Are Some Of The Advantages Of Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is very simple to install. It requires no gluing or nailing, and less cutting.
Laminate flooring is very durable, and will last many years. Unlike some other flooring types, it is highly resistant to dents, chipping, fading and scratching due to the highly durable clear surface coating.
Laminate is a very affordable and attractive flooring solution. It combines the look of real wood, with the durability of a hard surface product. Laminate finishes are also available with a "ceramic tile look", including grout lines, which, like the wood plank patterns, provides the look as well as the durability.
What Are Some Things To Remember When Installing Laminate Flooring?
Although laminate flooring can be installed in most rooms in the home, garages and outdoor porches should be avoided due to the presence of excess moisture.
Every laminate flooring installation requires an underlayment. Underlayment serves two primary purposes. First, it provides a moisture barrier, and second, it provides acoustical properties, that is, it limits the "echo" effects of a floating floor. Underlayment comes in several sizes and types. The most common, and the most economical, is foam with at polyethylene backer. It retails for around $20.00 for a roll that covers 100 square feet. Higher-density and higher quality underlayment products, ones that provide additional sound resistance, are also available. These types of products retail for around $50.00 for a 100 square foot roll. Also, at the seams where the underlayment meets, you should seal that seam with clear tape to ensure no moisture penetration.
It is important that you let your new floor "settle" in the room where it is to be installed for at least 24 - 48 hours. That is, once you have purchased your new floor, you should leave it in the carton, and place it in the room in which it will be installed for several days before instillation begins. The reason for this is for the product to adjust, and expand to the moisture content in the air prior to instillation.
Also, make sure that you leave a 1/4" space between the floor and the wall on all four sides. This gap will allow the floor to "float", and will prevent buckling of the seams after instillation. Once the floor instillation is completed, this gap can be easily covered over with quarter-round trim molding, nailed to the baseboard. Be sure not to nail the trim pieces through the floor or the gap between the floor and the wall, as this will prevent it from floating.
When cutting the planks, be sure to do the cutting in an area separate from the installation, since the sawdust contains aluminum oxide particles that can scratch the floor surface.
For a clean, finished appearance, the door jamb should be undercut, to allow the flooring to be installed underneath it. To undercut the door jamb, lay a piece of scrap flooring on the underlayment, and using that as a guide, saw off the bottom of door jamb and trim so the plank will fit.
There are two types of specialty trim that you should consider using when installing your new laminate floor. Both utilize a U-shaped metal track that attaches to the floor, and into which the trim piece itself snaps in.
The first is called a T-Mold. This is a transitional piece used when changing from one color of laminate to another, or to create a transition through a doorway or walk-way.
The other is called a reducer. It is used when transitioning from laminate flooring to sheet vinyl or tile, and creates a smooth seam from one to another.
What Should I Know About Taking Care Of My New Laminate Floor?
Avoid wet-mopping your new floor. Although it is moisture resistant, it is not moisture proof, and excess water can seep through the seams and damage the backer board.
Never use any abrasives on your new floor, and avoid the use of other cleaners as they may be harmful to the surface. For stubborn stains, use Acetone.
For regular cleaning, use a dry or semi-dry dust mop such as the Swiffer.
Always protect the floor by using felt protectors for chairs and other heavy furniture. When moving furniture, lift and move before setting on the floor vs. sliding it.