Home Improvement

Common Mistakes When Laying Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is easy to install and doesn’t require a ton of tools to do so. However, it’s still possible to make a mistake here and there that will cost you both time and money in the future.

So, if you:

  • wonder whether you can fit your laminate flooring without staggering it;
  • want to know if an underlayment is really all that important;
  • did a fitting job and in some areas the floor is too close to the walls.

Then you are at the right place! Here you can read about the most common mistakes when laying laminate flooring. But first…

What is actually laminate flooring?

It’s important to know what laminate is and what it isn’t. This will help you understand why some installation practices can be harmful for the material.

Laminate flooring is made from a synthetic material and is composed of 3 layers:

  • A base layer of plywood or high-density fiberboard. This makes the boards strong and durable.
  • A photo-realistic image layer that can mimic different materials, such as wood, stone, and even metal. 
  • A top layer that protects it from stains and scuff marks.

These layers are fused together via lamination to form the final product. To get the most out of this type of flooring, however, the installation needs to be flawless. So, the first mistake you should avoid is:

Installing laminate in a room with high moisture levels

Laminate may be easy to clean from stains and spills, but it’s certainly vulnerable to moisture and humidity. In these conditions, laminate can buckle and the only way to fix it is by replacing all of the deformed boards. That’s why you should avoid installing laminate in bathrooms, kitchens and entry halls.

Leaks from other top apartments can also lead to damage of several of the boards. Fortunately, once the leak is fixed, you can change only the damaged laminate, and not the entire floor. For more information, check our post on how to fix laminate floors.

Moisture can also come from the subfloor. If this happens, your laminate flooring will start expanding and contracting, which will result in damage. This is the reason why it’s important to test the levels of the subfloor beforehand.

Poorly staggered joints

If you fail to stagger your laminate boards properly, you will not only have an odd looking floor, but the boards will disengage after time. Correct staggering is very important to the structural integrity and stability of your laminate flooring.

Some manufacturers recommend that you stagger the boards between 6 and 12 inches, others recommend even more. Basically, the point is not to short stagger. You might be tempted to create the so-called H-joints, and save yourself measuring, but that won’t work either. If you choose this pattern, you will decrease the floor’s ability to contract and expand as a whole unit. Instead, all of the boards will start doing that on their own, which can result in gaps.

Using the wrong type of underlayment or not installing one at all

Underlayment is important for any kind of wood flooring, however, it’s essential for laminate because it gives it additional soundproofing capabilities, it acts as an insulator, and it evens out the surface.

It also matters what kind of floor you have – you can’t just lay any type of underlayment and call it a day. For each kind of floor, there is a different underlayment:

  • Concrete floors – an underlay with a built in DPM will be most sufficient.
  • Plywood subfloors – in this case you will need fibreboard – it allows the wood to breathe and doesn’t trap moisture.
  • Underfloor heating system – you need an underlay, which keeps the heat resistance within the correct levels and stops dampness from rising.

For more information, check our dedicated post on how to lay laminate flooring underlay.

Fitting your laminate on a floor that’s not perfectly flat

Tiny imperfections are inevitable and that’s why you should use an underlayment before installing the laminate boards. However, if there’s an obvious slope, you need to even it out with a compound. Note that using additional foam to cover the voids will not work in the long run. Since this kind of flooring is free-floating, you will have areas where there is space underneath the boards. This will lead to gaping, warping, and board breakage the more you step on them. Instead you need to properly level out the surface by following this method:

  1. Prepare the ground by carefully cleaning it of dirt and especially oils.
  2. Fix any existing cracks, dips, and dents by filling them with a repair compound. Don’t overdo it – you will end up with bumps.
  3. Lay a straight edge on the floor to see where the ground starts to slope.
  4. Pour your self-levelling compound.
  5. Wait anywhere from 1 to 6 hours, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions.
Related Read
Home Improvement
How to Level a Concrete Floor for Laminate

Not leaving expansion gaps

When temperatures increase, the humidity in a room rises. Since laminate absorbs moisture, it will expand ever so slightly, which means that it needs to have enough space to do so. Without this extra room, the boards will crack or buckle.

That being said, remember to put spacers between the first row and the wall to ensure a 10mm gap between the two.

Need help installing your laminate flooring?  

If you feel that laminate floor installation is too hard and time-consuming, consider hiring professional help. Fantastic Services works with experienced and fully equipped tradesmen who can perform laminate floor installation to a T. They will prepare the subfloor and pick the most suitable underlay. Finally they will install the laminate of your choice in a stress-free manner.

It’s super easy to book your laminate floor installation. All you need to do is download the GoFantastic app, check the calendar, and request a free survey. Once our representative arrives at your property, they will give you a free quote.

Reach out to us today!

Takeaways

  • Avoid installing laminate in rooms with high humidity levels. Keep it out of bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Always stagger joints between individual boards. This will make the whole floor that much more stable.
  • Use proper underlay in accordance with the floor type you will be installing.
  • Level out the floor before installation. Underlay can only get you so far, unless your floor has only minor defects.
  • Leave expansion gaps between the boards and walls. When the boards expand due to changes in the temperature, they will need this extra space.

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Did you find our article helpful? Do you have any more tips? Share them in the comment section!

Image source: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

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