Usually when we think about changing the floor, whether in a specific room or in the whole house, we think of great works, of not being able to stay comfortable at home for some time and the high cost that a work like this can have. However, if our option is to lay the laminate floor, no major works or large expenses are necessary and, depending on the size of the house or room, we can step on the new floor on the same day.
Laminate floors are much easier to install than traditional solid wood parquet and offer the same appearance. The slats or plates consist, in most cases, of MDF or MDF plates on which a plastic sheet with the design we choose is applied. The fact that the design is printed on these plastic sheets allows you to find an immense variety of designs, from imitations of all types and types of wood, to stones or original designs.
In addition, these plastic layers allow to obtain the product textures that they imitate, confer resistance to scratches and blows, and allow liquids not to come in contact with the wood.
Steps for laying laminate flooring
Steps 1: acclimatize the laminate floor to the environment. Because it is basically made of wood, and so on, the laminate floor expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity in the environment. For this reason, it is highly recommended that the laminate floor remains for at least 48 hours in the place where it will be installed, so that it adapts to the environment. If we didn’t, we would risk expanding and increasing in some areas days after installation.
As a general rule, a temperature of approximately 18 degrees and a humidity of less than 60% is recommended. This is only an indication, as there may be significant climatic differences between the different areas.
Step 2: remove the baseboards and door jambs or flashings, also repair the floor, if necessary. Separate the skirting boards from the wall and set them aside (you may want to use them again). To lay the laminate floor correctly, the base must be solid and level, therefore, if you have already placed any other laminate, vinyl or similar flooring, it must be removed, and it is also necessary to level the floor and correct any cracks. More often, for unevenness, leveling paste is used, a type of mortar that is applied on the same ground and is not difficult to find.
Cut door guides. If we are looking for an aesthetically perfect result and we also want to avoid points where the floor stumbles when expanding, we must make cracks in the door guides. The height at which these cuts are made will depend on the thickness of the batten and the blanket chosen. In terms of depth, it must be at least 1 cm.
Step 3: Installing the insulation. Before installing, make sure that the floor is clean and that there are no nails, staples or the like. Place the insulation without overlapping layers, if necessary use a knife to cut the excess.
This coating fulfills several functions: it isolates the moisture from the subfloor, dampens the sound and helps in the uniformity of the floor.
Step 4: Plan the orientation or layout. To choose the direction in which we are going to lay the laminate floor slats, the first thing to do is to see which wall is longer and straighter and start there. It should also be noted if there are other curved walls and where the doors are, plan to make minimal cuts, which will also affect the budget, as there are fewer pieces to discard. It may be necessary to cut the first row of boards based on the chosen design. Use staples to make the cuts straight and secure.
Step 5: the expansion joint. As already mentioned, the laminate floor expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity. This is inevitable and natural. so we must leave a few millimeters of separation between the slats and the wall. We can use a strip of what we cut and discard, which normally has an ideal thickness for it, between 0.8 and 1 cm, or plastic clips that we can find in the installation kits.
Step 6: Place the first row of slats. Notice which part of the click system faces the wall and which part faces you. Normally the blades can be joined by hand, although sometimes a specific tool can be used to set S-shaped laminate floors and a hammer with which, through smooth movements, closes the joints that are usually more complicated due to the walls.
Step 7: next lines. Take the opportunity to start a new line with the rest of the board that often had to be used to finish the previous line. Make sure to leave at least 15 cm between the beginning of a board in the previous row and the one we are laying.
Step 8: last line. It is usually the most complex, as it is more difficult to maneuver due to its proximity to the wall. To fit the strips of this row with the previous one, it must be done with a more pronounced angle and it is likely that it will be necessary to use the tool mentioned in step 6 to close the hook or click system. Don’t forget the expansion joint.
Step 9: trim around the doors. Do not cut the slats to fit the outline of the door and flashings. Cut the flash just enough so that the floor is under it.
Step 10: Replace the baseboards. These will cover the expansion joints that we had to leave to lay the laminate floor.