Before you dive right into the installation of your laminate flooring educate yourself a little bit. When you take the necessary steps to prepare for the installation of laminate flooring, you will be successful. Read our list of the 11 biggest mistakes made during laminate flooring installation.
1. Not sealing laminate joints in water sensitive areas
Laminate flooring products are recommended for residential areas such as kitchens, living rooms, dining rooms and bathrooms however following special installation instructions are required when installing laminate flooring in wet areas. In most cases laminate flooring surface is resistant to water, however, it is very important to prevent water or moisture from getting under the floor.
All ”wet” areas must be sealed with laminate flooring sealant or 100% mildew -resistant silicone to avoid moisture damage and buckling.
2. Using the caulk around door jambs, pipes, and stonework
Take your time to finish your work the right way. Undercut doorjambs, trim properly to have nice and polished look.
3. Continue multiple room installation without dilatations
Smaller rooms like 10’ x 10’ bedroom will be fine with ¼” of expansion gap around the perimeter of the floor. For bigger spaces as well as commercial installations, above 40’ in length ½” clearance is a must to avoid buckling.
4. Nailing wall base and/or q-round through the laminate
Don’t nail your moldings to the floor. Right expansion gap is necessary so your laminate flooring can freely expand and shrink during the seasons. By pinching your moldings to your floor you are blocking free expansion of your floor and the final effect of this mistake will be buckled floor.
5. Tap laminate only if manufacturers allows to do it
This is common for laminate flooring installation mistakes. New generation laminates are constructed to “click” together. There is no need– unless directed in installation instruction to use a tapping block. By hammering planks together you will damage locking system and your floor will not lock properly.
6. Installing laminate under kitchen cabinets
Having an expansion gap is necessary to avoid buckling of the floor. During winter and summer your floor will expand and shrink. By pinching your floor with cabinet you are blocking free expansion of your floor and the final effect of this mistake will be big bump on your floor.
7. Unintentional installation of wrong or defective laminate planks
Inspect all laminate planks prior installation to ensure they have correct pattern, style and color and are free from visible defects. Once wrong or damaged laminate is installed it is difficult to replace it. All manufacturers of laminate flooring will not pay labor charges or replacement on claims filed for materials installed with obvious visible defects. If you discovered problem after opening 3 boxes of laminate, do not proceed with installation and contact your material provider for assistance.
8. Not enough clearance around perimeter of the room
Very common installation mistake. Laminate flooring is designed to be installed as “floated floor”– thus it is not nailed or glued to the sub-floor and works as one big “pancake” that expands and contract with temperature/humidity changes. Smaller rooms like 10’ x 10’ bedroom will be fine with ¼” of expansion gap around the perimeter of the floor. For bigger spaces, above 40’ in length ½” clearance is a must. Clearance issue is also very important around the door jambs, pipes, transition moldings etc. Failure to meet this requirement can result in the floor buckling. Learn more about expansion gaps.
9. Lack of thermal acclimation
When this simple step is skipped you can expect big “bump” in the middle of your room and be forced to reinstall your floor again. Laminate flooring like any other wood floor expands and shrinks, adjusting to the environment. For example, bringing cold laminate to warm room and installing it right away, even you will leave recommended expansion gap will be not enough to avoid buckling. It is very important to maintain temperature and humidity at your job site. Keep temperature of minimum of 65 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity should not exceed 65%. It is important to maintain it 48 hours before and after installation.
10. Installing on uneven sub-floor
Quality of your sub-floor plays very important role in laminate flooring performance. Many older houses have imperfect sub-floor and installing too thick laminate will be just wrong decision. What will happen? Your laminate floor will flex up and down, adjusting to your uneven sub-floor, and the end effect will be damaged locking system, micro-gaps between boards and poor floor performance. Ideal situation is when you can check your sub-floor quality before laminate flooring purchase and then make adequate decision. Installing thicker laminate will add value and durability but what is most important it will add strength to the locking system. But if your sub-floor has major problems, do not expect that underlayment and 10mm thick laminate will take care of it. Unfortunately you have to fix your sub-floor first to fully enjoy your new floor investment.
11. Wrong underlayment choice
Laminate flooring requires an underlayment to be installed prior to the floor covering installation. This is mostly to help your floor to “float” as well as protect your floor against noises when walking on it. There are several underlayment choices on the market, but the most important thing you should now is to install vapor barrier underlayment when installing laminate flooring over concrete sub-floor as well as over crawl space, in manufactured houses, vinyl installed over concrete, ceramic tile installed over cement sub-floor, radiant floor. Vapor barrier underlayment will protect your floor against normal water vapor that is emitted through concrete. When installing it remember to overlap each row of vapor barrier laminate and add 8”overlap at seams, installed up to the edge of the wall base or wall. If you have laminate with pre-attached underlayment all you need is 6mil PE film often called Vapor Barrier.
The installation process is not complex, just a process that requires time and patience. Your patience may be tested, but you can really install laminate flooring yourself. These laminate flooring installation mistakes are very helpful to know ahead of time!
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