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House Rehab: Seven Tips For DIY Laminate Flooring

You can do it! And there's no time like the present!

laminate flooring
A few waterproof laminate floors must be sealed with silicone around the perimeter of the floor. Photo:

(SALEM, Ore.) - Now is the are finally going to replace that floor!

Doing it yourself is a great money-saving idea, but unless you're well prepared, it can cost you in time, cash and stress. So, here are seven important tips that will help you find "laminate floor success"!

Laminate flooring is installed using a floating floor. This means the flooring pieces are attached to each other but are not held to the subfloor with glue or nails. Instead, the floor floats over an underlayment.

Installing a floating floor is significantly quicker and easier than attaching the floor to the subfloor piece by piece. Laminate is a good-looking, affordable DIY option for floors. Here are some things to know before you get started.

1. Check Your Subfloor

A floating floor is more forgiving than a more traditional installation, but you still need to check the subfloor for any maintenance issues before you get started. Tap down any popped nailheads and screw a drywall screw through the subfloor and into the joist anywhere you hear a squeak when you walk.

2. Remove Quarter-Round, but Leave Baseboards in Place

Take your time doing this, the quarter-round is delicate and you want to be able to reuse it once your flooring is down. Use a small pry bar to ease the molding away from the wall.

Once your flooring is down and you are ready to replace the quarter-round, make sure you nail into the baseboard and not the laminate.

3. Check All Door Casings and Jams Before You Get Started

You want the laminate flooring to slide under these spots to create a seamless look. It may seem simpler to cut around the casings, but that will not create a professional look.

Instead, use a handsaw or reciprocating saw to undercut the doorways. Use a scrap piece of laminate to determine how much you need to take off. Use a vacuum to get rid of the debris before you install the laminate.

4. Don’t Skimp on Underlayment

Underlayment acts as a moisture barrier for the flooring and provides cushioning and noise dampening effects. The laminate floor brand you choose will dictate the type of underlayment you select. When installing the underlayment make sure the edges touch, but do not overlap.

5. Transition Strips Create a Professional Finish

The decision on whether to use transition strips between rooms if you are replacing the flooring in each with laminate is a personal decision. Some people prefer the look of a long expanse of one type of flooring.

Others find the ease of installing transition strips more appealing than working the laminate under and around door frames. If you are only replacing flooring in some parts of your house, or you are replacing with different types of flooring, you should use transition strips between flooring types.

6. Use the Tongue and Groove to Your Advantage

Laminate flooring is designed with a tongue and groove system that makes installation a breeze. Hammering the pieces directly can cause damage to the laminate, but trying to fit the pieces together with your hands alone will be tedious and time-consuming.

Use a small piece of scrap wood as a tapping block, or purchase one made specifically for the job. Place the tapping block against the laminate, then tap your block with the hammer. Do this along the length of the flooring as well as on the ends.

7. Make it Last

Laminate does expand and contract depending on the weather. This is not typically a problem, but if you have heavy furniture sitting on the floor it can lead to shifting.

Most general household furniture is fine, but if you have particularly heavy pieces, such as a piano or fully loaded bookshelves, make sure to arrange the heavy pieces so they are not opposite each other in the room. Doing so may trap the floor so cannot expand sideways, but must push up or shift.

Source: Special Features Dept.


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