Common Mistakes When Laying Laminate
Installing laminate flooring is easy and convenient and it’s one of the top flooring choices for homeowners. Made from a mixture of real and synthetic materials and designed to look similar to wood or tile floors, laminate flooring is comfortable to walk on, can be installed over heated floors, and it looks great when done correctly but mistakes can be made which affect the overall quality of the flooring.
If you’re thinking of laying laminate flooring and want to make sure you do a good job, read on to learn about the most common mistakes made when laying laminate flooring and our laying laminate flooring tips to ensure you get the best, longest lasting results possible.
1. Laying laminate floors in the wrong areas
Although laminate flooring is great for use in all kinds of areas of your home, its one flaw is that it’s not great when it comes to moisture. To avoid warping, discoloration, and bubbling, avoid installing laminate flooring in rooms that regularly see a lot of moisture such as bathrooms, kitchens, or utility rooms.
If you’re set on using laminate flooring in these areas, you will need to also install moisture protection such as sealant, otherwise you’ll end up spending more on replacement floors in the long run.
2. Not sealing your floors against moisture
Despite installing your floors in areas that don’t see much moisture, spills and accidents can still happen so it’s important to seal your laminate flooring regardless of where you’re installing it. Whether you opt for glue, silicone caulk, or another sealant is up to you, just make sure to include it as part of your laying process. Additionally, make sure to mop up any spills as soon as possible to help prevent damage.
3. Not letting your laminate flooring acclimate
It’s important when installing any wood flooring in your home to let it acclimate before installing. This helps to avoid warping and buckling of the wood by letting it get used to the humidity levels in your home. Follow the instructions on the box but as a guide, give your flooring planks the opportunity to acclimate for 48-72 hours. Not doing so may cause bucking or unsightly gaps in your laminate flooring!
4. Not making sure the floor is level
To prevent sagging soft spots or unusual bumps in your flooring, make sure the floor beneath is level before installation of your laminate floors. There should be no more than 1/8 of an inch tolerance. Use a combination of grinding, sanding, and using a self levelling material to help ensure your floor is level and flat enough for proper installation.
5. Not using an underlay
Because laminate flooring is so thin it doesn’t offer much in the way of structural integrity and bends and flexes easily. This not only causes unnecessary stress on the floor when you walk on it, it also doesn’t feel very nice to step on. Underlay is a thin layer of foam that works as a shock absorber, insulator, and absorbs any small deviations in the subfloor below. It will take care of any dips or high spots in the 1/8 of an inch tolerance as mentioned above.
6. Not using a vapor barrier (where needed)
If there is a chance for moisture to come from underneath the floor, a moisture barrier is a must. Concrete floors in a basement are a good example of floors that need a vapour barrier. This is an important step to make sure moisture doesn’t seep into your laminate flooring, causing warping, damp, and in extreme cases, rot.
7. Not leaving room for edge expansion
Laminate flooring is designed to float which means that the interlocking pieces move together over the subfloor instead of individually. Because of this, you can expect your floors to shift around a little as you walk on them and it’s important to make sure you leave room around the edges of the wall to prevent buckling and other damage.
8. Not using expansion joints
If you’re covering a large area or laying laminate flooring through two rooms, you need to add an expansion joint to the flooring. This offers similar benefits to the previous point and allows your floor plenty of room to expand and contract as needed. Not using an expansion joint when covering areas larger than around 7 metres wide or 10 metres long, or when transitioning between rooms, will potentially cause buckling and other undesirable damage.
9. Not reading the manufacturer’s instructions
Although the installation process of laminate flooring is pretty similar, not all models and designs are made the same or require the same treatment. Not reading the instructions beforehand can cause all kinds of different problems down the road so make sure you read the instructions provided by the manufacturer for the best finish and longest-lasting floors.
10. Not finishing the job
It’s a cliché that DIY jobs always go unfinished but it’s one of the top mistakes made when installing laminate flooring. Whether transitions are left incomplete, the mouldings aren’t properly replaced, the quarter round hasn’t been installed correctly, or any other reason, an unfinished floor looks sloppy and untidy. For the best results, make sure you take the time to finish your laminate floor properly.
11. Not caring for the flooring properly
Although not directly related to the laying of the laminate flooring itself, the care of your new flooring is absolutely vital and will help it to last a long time. Make sure you read the proper care instructions laid out by the manufacturer but here are some of the most important things to note. Avoid using wet mops and don’t use steam cleaners to clean your flooring. Clean up any spills as soon as possible and use a laminate floor cleaner for the best clean and longest lasting floors.
The proper installation and care of your laminate flooring is vital to ensure the longevity of your floors. Always follow the instructions and, most importantly, don’t make the above mistakes for the best results!