Are you determined to go the DIY route with your laminate flooring installation? If it’s your first time doing this, you better read a lot of articles and watch a lot of YouTube videos on how it ought to be done.
And to make sure you avoid problems along the way, here are some other installation tips that can really help! (Read more about laminate flooring installation and more tips at The Flooring Metaverse.)
Note the Heavy Furniture
It’s true that premium laminate flooring options these days are a lot tougher than the laminates of yesteryear. They’re not quite as fragile, and can deal with heavier furniture. But there are certain issues that come with heavy furniture like a filled-up tall bookshelf, a grand piano, or a pool table.
First thing you need to keep in mind is that moving the furniture can really do some damage on the laminate flooring. So, if you’re moving these pieces, either lift or slide them over.
The other main problem is that you need to give some leeway to the laminate planks, as these planks tend to contract or expand in reaction to changes in temperature or humidity. The problem really gets serious when you have heavy pieces at both ends of a room, which traps the flooring. That may end up with humps on the floor.
So, limit the heavy furniture to a single piece, with a weight limit equal to the weight of a fully stocked fridge.
Wear the Right Knee Pads
It’s funny how so many of these instructional articles and videos for laminate flooring ignore this aspect of the process. There’s a lot of kneeling during this installation, and you’ll need knee pads. And you can’t use the hard-shell knee pad you already have for landscaping or roofing, as that will just damage the laminate flooring.
Instead, go with knee pads that use soft rubber, foam or cloth. Better yet, try the gel-filled knee pads.
Consider a “Sacrificial Plank”
When you’re putting planks together, you’re not supposed to use the mallet or the hammer directly on the planks. You use the tapping block for that instead.
But sometimes even the tapping block may damage the plank. So, you may want to get a single plank as your sacrificial piece, and use it as another layer. That means you use the mallet on the tapping block, which is set against the sacrificial plank.
It won’t matter if the tapping block damages the sacrificial plank, since you’ve already accepted this risk. Meanwhile, this sacrificial plank is set on the planks you’re setting together, and the sacrificial plank is much less likely to do some damage.
When you’re installing the underlayment, it’s better if you set it perpendicular to how you will install the planks. That means there’s less chance that the underlayment will “bubble” while you lay the flooring.
It’s also a good idea to install only a few rows of the underlayment at a time. That way, you avoid tearing up the underlayment with your work boots.
Use the Right Tape for the Underlayment Seams
At this point, you probably know about taping all the underlayment seams. But while it’s just so easy to use any tape available in your home, that may not be your best option. That’s because some house wrap tapes and packing tapes are just too rigid. When you’re done and you’re stepping on the flooring, you get an annoying crackling noise with every step.
The better alternative is to use whatever tape that’s recommended by the underlayment manufacturer. Better yet, go with an underlayment that already has built-in seam tape.
Don’t Use a Miter Saw for Cutting Your Planks
Using a miter saw is quite inefficient, when you’re cutting planks down to size. It can get quite dusty, and the noise isn’t all that great, either. You’ll also have to walk back and forth to your miter saw.
Instead, go with a good laminate floor cutter (view list of laminate floor cutters). These tools are specifically for cutting laminate planks. The best ones are much easier to use, and you can do the cutting right where you’re putting the planks.
If you’re not a DIY expert, then perhaps you should leave the laminate flooring to the pros. Seriously, at least you know for sure that the job gets done right.
Only real DIY experts can be reasonably sure of doing the installation properly. For the rest of us, it’s just too iffy. Even if you’re “saving” money by doing the installation yourself, you might actually end up losing money by botching up the job.
Most warranties also become voided if the installation isn’t done properly. In fact, there are warranties that won’t go into effect unless certified laminate flooring installers are doing the job.
So, unless you’re reasonably sure that you can do this, just leave it to the pros, okay? Sit back, enjoy a drink, watch some TV, and then appreciate the laminate flooring once the professionals are done with the installation.