Content supplied by Floors Direct

Find out how to install this stylish and versatile flooring choice

The reputation of laminate flooring has been somewhat ruined by cheap products which were popular in the 90s and early 00s, but recent innovations mean that quality and style have been vastly improved. However, the overall finish is still very much dependent on it being installed properly – with shoddy workmanship from inexperienced DIYers being one of the other reasons why laminate was previously seen as being a poor flooring choice.

The advantages of laminate are plenty: it is durable, can be installed with underfloor heating (unlike some solid wood options), it’s easy to clean and care for, and comes in a wide range of looks and styles. And for those who are looking for a budget-friendly alternative to wood, laminate can easily look the part.

Choosing the right laminate

It’s important that you start with the right product and it’s not always easy to know which one is suited for the room you are decorating. Some will offer better levels of water resistance than others which is something you will need to consider if you are using it in a kitchen or bathroom. Also take note of the advertised durability of the product which is essential for floorings in areas with high footfall (such as kitchens and hallways). If in doubt seek advice from a laminate flooring specialist to ensure the floor is suitable for the room.

Before you commit to making a purchase try ordering a few samples to see what the product really looks and feels like. With some laminates carrying guarantees of up to 25 years, it is a sound investment to make sure you are happy to live with it for a long time.

Most good flooring retailers offer a free sample service which is particularly useful to see how the colour of the floor reflects the light in the room. This can really change the perception of what you see in pictures.

There are a lot of design aspects you should consider when purchasing flooring; consider the colours, thickness and the finish, look at the grooves and patterns. It is also worth noting what lacquer has been used as these features will all determine the final look of your flooring.

Laying your laminate flooring:

Safety First

  • Always wear protective glasses and a dust mask when using mitre saws to cut the planks.
  • Wear knee pads while installing
  • Use a RCD Device if operating power tools

Check List

Materials:

  • Laminate flooring
  • Underlay
  • Beading and skirting
  • Door bars
  • Glue adhesive

Tools:

  • Plastic Spacer
  • Ruler
  • Mitre saw
  • Drill
  • Wood drill-bit
  • Combination square

Safety Equipment:

  • Dust mask
  • Safety glasses
  • Knee pads

Subfloor
Ensure the subfloor is dry and damp proof and flatten any areas more than 2mm deep using a suitable filler.

Underlay
Choose an appropriate underlay that suits the condition of the sub-floor.

Foam Underlay – Does the job if your subfloor is perfectly dry and level throughout the room.

Combination Underlay – Recommended if you have a slightly unlevelled floor with slight imperfections or require a little insulation.

Fibreboard underlay – A must have if you require the underlay to level the subfloor and provide good sound and heat insulation.

Direction
The direction of your flooring should be laid against the longest wall in the direction towards the light.

Please note that the following installation steps guide you how to lay laminate flooring in one continuous direction. If you desire a customised design then you should seek further advice or commission a professional layer.

Installation
Before you start laying, open the packaging and place the underlay and flooring boards uncovered in the room you will be installing for 48 hours so that it ‘acclimatises’ to its surrounding conditions.

  1. Check the longer edges of the flooring boards and identify which side has the ‘tongue’ and ‘groove’.
    1. Tongue will have a piece of wood extending out like a ridge.
    2. Groove will have an indent that allows the tongue to click into. You can test this by using two boards.
  2. Starting from a corner of your choice put the spacers into position against the wall 50cm apart.
  3. Lay down the first laminate board with tongue side facing the wall.
  4. Continue laying subsequent boards against the wall using the spacers as described in step 2.
  5. Using a combination square, mark the last board at the end of the room and cut off the excess using a mitre saw to finish off the row neatly.
  6. Use the off-cut to start the new row next to the first board you laid making sure you use the tongue and groove edges to click and lock into position. As the off-cut will be smaller than the original board length, it will ensure that the ends of each board next to each other will not meet in a straight line. If in any case they do use another board to ensure that the ends are always jaggered and have a distance of at least 30cm apart from each end creating an irregular pattern. This creates a sturdier floor preventing the chances of the floor lifting up at the joints.
  7. Continue to complete the row as described between steps (4) and (6) then repeat until you have complete the floor across the room.
  8. Around pipes:
    1. Mark the position of the pipe then using a drill and wood bit cut out a whole slightly larger than the pipe.
    2. Using a mitre saw, cut from a wider angle towards the edge of circular whole you created
    3. Do this on both sides creating a keyhole shape. This help you to manoeuvre the board to fit the pipe and allow space to carry out any necessary maintenance in the future.
  9. Door Frames
    1. Before you lay the boards around the doors, using a hand saw cut out a slot from the edge of the door frame that gets in contact with the boards at a height slightly thicker than the board. This will allow you to easy slot the boards into the door frames giving you a tidy wrap around finish.

 Tips

Final Row
Unless you have perfectly straight walls on both sides you can simply measure the final gap and cut all your boards according to the same width but this scenario is more than unlikely.

To ensure you get a perfect finish on the final row, follow the steps below:

  1. Place a board above directly above the last one you have laid as if you are doubling up.
  2. Now place another above it but this time pushed against the wall closing the gap.
  3. Mark the middle board and neatly saw it to create a board that perfectly fits the gap.
  4. Tap in the board using a mallet.
  5. Do the same for every gap using the same method but using the adjacent board next to the gap as every gap will be slightly different in width.

Gaps
If you have gaps under the skirting you may fill these with scotia beading.

Under the Doors
If you have an uneven surface between rooms that is separated by a gap you can insert a similar coloured door bar or T-bar that has a groove at the bottom which will slot in the gap. If it is loose then use spacers or adhesive glue to secure.

If you aren’t confident in laying the floor yourself then you should contact specialist flooring contractors and expert fitters such as Floors Direct to gain further expert advice, however, by following these steps, you may find yourself more than up to the challenge!

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