Everything You Need to Know Before Installing Laminate Flooring

Everything You Need to Know Before Installing Laminate Flooring
 
 
 
 

Homeowners are increasingly embracing the idea of laminate flooring when doing home improvement projects. These are highly durable materials and they offer a wide range of style options without the costly expense of real hardwood. Laminate flooring is suitable for every room, including the bedroom, hallways, kitchen, and even bathrooms. However, you may want to avoid installing in damp areas like bathrooms because the inner core of the material is made with wood or fiberboard that can be damaged by moisture. Still, deciding on the right laminate is not easy. In this guide, we tell you everything you need to know before installing laminate flooring. Let’s dive right in.

What Is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring is a synthetic product made of several materials layered and sealed together in the lamination process. The product is designed to be durable and affordable, and comes in a vast selection of wood look-alike products, with some featuring stone and ceramic imitations as well.

Laminate flooring consists of four main components:

  • Wear Layer – is the top layer, which is scratch resistant to prevent daily wear and tear. It's also easy to clean and maintains a fade- and stain-resistance appearance.

  • Décor Layer – this layer contains a printed image of the natural wood, tile, or ceramic look-alike.

  • Core Layer – this is the layer that gives the laminate its structure and dent-resistant properties. Laminate flooring is made to withstand dents more than real hardwood flooring.

  • Backer Layer – the last layer is designed to provide additional support and stability to the laminate.

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Where to Install Laminate Flooring

As previously noted, laminate flooring is made to be extremely durable, making it a great choice for high traffic areas, like the living room and hallways. However, over the years, the product has advanced, widening its scope of applications.

Today, laminate flooring has more detail and style, making them quite eye-catching. The addition of waterproof materials allows you to install them in kitchens and even bathrooms. It can also be a great option for basements. In recent years, we’ve seen laminate flooring being installed on walls, completely changing the room’s appearance.

Tips to Help You Choose the Right Laminate Flooring

Waterproof Vs. Water-Resistant Laminate Flooring

These two terms are usually used interchangeably. But when it comes to choosing the right laminate, be sure to read the instructions carefully. Waterproof laminate flooring needs to be installed with 100 percent silicon sealant and a 3/8-inch foam backer rod around the room’s perimeter.

Water-resistant, on the other hand, means that you need to clean up any moisture within 30 minutes.

AC Rating

Equally important is the Abrasion Criteria (AC) rating of the type of laminate you're buying. The AC is rated on a scale of 1-5 in regards to wear resistance. When selecting the laminate, keep in mind the higher the AC rating, the higher the durability. Having said that, AC 3 and AC 4 are the most common in residential properties.

Here's the breakdown:

  • AC 1: ideal for home use in areas with little foot traffic like the bedroom.

  • AC 2: ideal for home use in areas with medium foot traffic.

  • AC 3: ideal for home use in areas with high foot traffic, like the kitchen and living room.

  • AC 4: ideal for home use in all traffic areas. Can also be used on certain commercial properties.

  • AC 5: can withstand heavy commercial traffic.

Installation

Installation of laminate is pretty straightforward. But, you will require a set of tools to make the work possible. Some of the equipment/tools and materials you’ll need include:

  • Hammer

  • Rubber mallet

  • Pull bar or tapping block

  • Tape measure

  • Pencil

  • Chalk box

  • Circular saw, handsaw, or jigsaw

  • Utility knife

  • Scrap wood spacers

  • Underlayment and tape

Most laminate floorings have a “click together” design that simply locks into each other like Lego toys. Others may require the use of adhesive to secure them in place. You can opt to do it yourself or hire professionals to install them for you.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Laminate has a protective-wear layer that keeps most of the dirt and debris off the surface. This makes it easy to clean and sanitize the flooring whenever you want. Cleaning laminate flooring is generally easy and only requires you to sweep, vacuum, or dry mop it on a regular basis. For thorough cleaning, you can choose from the various cleaning regimens that are available. Generally, use a very mild soap and water solution and gently scrub or mop the specific areas that need your attention.

  • Take care not to allow water to stand on the surface of the floor or form in puddles for a prolonged period to avoid damage. Additionally, opt to use rugs or doormats in high traffic areas to reduce wear and the amount of dirt collected.

  • Try to avoid sliding heavy objects and furniture across the floor. If you have pets, keep their nails trimmed to minimize scratches on the surface.

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In Conclusion…

Laminate flooring is a cost-effective solution for your space. It’s also a great choice if you are prone to allergies caused by carpets and rugs. Laminate flooring is easy to clean and accumulates less dirt. Nevertheless, laminate flooring will wear with time. How long it takes and how it ages will depend on a variety of factors, like exposure to high traffic areas. To get the longest service, be sure to buy laminate flooring with the highest AC rating you can afford. Laminate rated AC 4 or AC 5 for example, are tougher and designed to withstand any kind of wear and tear.

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