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Lay Laminate Flooring

Skill Level: Intermediate

Introduction

Laminate flooring can transform a room, giving it an elegant and attractive new look. There are alternatives to the traditional “wood” effect finish; with numerous different styles, patterns, and colours to choose from. Apart from the many wood effects available such as; beech, oak, mahogany, etc; there is now laminate flooring available in various tile effects, including; terracotta, slate or ceramic. These mineral effect laminate floor coverings look amazingly realistic, but with a warmer, more gentle feel underfoot.

 

Which Type of Laminate Flooring.

There are two main types of laminate flooring; tongue and groove, or locking type. Locking type flooring requires no adhesive, and relies on the interlocking and fastening of a short and long tongue down the edges to hold the boards together. This is a very effective system and is much easier and quicker to lay than the tongue and groove variety. The tongue and groove system involves a tongue on one piece of board, slotting into a groove on a second piece. With this type of laminate flooring, the slots are first coated with adhesive to hold the boards fast. Here we shall look at the glue-free locking type of flooring.

Preparation.

Laminate flooring can be laid on most floors, providing they are flat, level and dry.
Wooden floors should be thoroughly checked before laying laminate flooring. Wide gaps between floorboards should be filled out with either mastic or wedges of thin section timber before covering over. Have a good look around for protruding nail heads; check also for loose boards at this time. You do not want to get it all down and secure; then find you have a squeaky floor!

Concrete floors.

There are two points to consider here, apart from ensuring the floor is clean and free from dust and debris before laying the flooring; first, with new concrete allow 24 hours per 1mm of thickness drying time before laying flooring over the top. Secondly, with existing concrete floors, make sure the floor is relatively flat, without bumps and ditches; and that it is level. Where the floor is uneven or not level; use a self levelling compound and allow to dry before laying boards.

Underlay.

But which type? All floors must be fitted with an under lay of some kind before laying laminate flooring. There are three main types to choose from; each more suitable for slightly different applications.
 
Wood fibre underlay is probably the thickest type of underlay available, and is used where there is a slight unevenness to the floor. This underlay has good insulation and soundproofing qualities.
 
Poly foam underlay is the thinnest underlay available, and is best suited to firm, flat concrete floors, or wooden floors.
 

Combined underlay and damp proof membrane is thicker than poly foam, but thinner than wood fibre underlay. It covers many floor irregularities and provides good insulation and soundproof qualities

Getting Started.

As with wallpapering, and tiling; the first one (in this case board) to be laid is perhaps the most important. With the underlay in place, lay the first board, lengthways starting from a left hand corner. Make sure the shortest tongue is facing the wall.
Place expansion spacers at regular intervals along the length of the board, between the board and against the skirting.

Square to the Wall and Aligned.

Check the first board is square and aligned to the wall. Lay the next board end-on, placing the short tongue of this second board, into the long tongue of the first board, at an angle of approximately 30degrees. Gently lower the second board until it locks into place. Continue to lay boards in this manner until you reach the end of the row ( keep an eye you remain square and level as you progress) You may find you need to cut a short length of board to complete the row.

Measure and Cut the Short End Lengths.

To measure the last (short) board on a row, turn it180 degrees, and lay it next to the previous one laid. Put a spacer at the board end, against the skirting.
Using a square and pencil draw a line across the last board, level with the end of the previous one, using a fine toothed hand or jig saw, cut the board to size, turn around, and slot into place.
 
Stagger the joints, if the off-cut is more than 300mm; use it to start the next row, otherwise cut a board in half. Always make sure you have the cut end of board against the wall, where it will be hidden by either the skirting, or floor trim.

Fitting Rows of Boards Together.

There are two ways to actually lay rows of laminate floor boards. Either, you can fix and lock the boards on the long sides first (full lengths), then attach the short end pieces, together in one operation. Or, assemble the boards, row by row; completing one row at a time. Whichever is easiest for you? With larger areas of flooring, it is better not to keep moving around too much, up and down all the time. Moving your tools and equipment constantly.
 
However you decide; you will need the essential tools at hand to clip and lock the boards together. Use plenty of spacers on the outer edges of the floor boards (adjacent to the skirting boards)

Flooring Trim.

We’ve just to finish of now. All the boards are down, everything is done apart from fixing some edging strip around the outer edge of the new flooring; to hide the cut edges (expansion joints), and finish the room off nicely. These are easy to fit and shouldn’t take too much time. Use a tape measure to determine the exact length of floor trim required, and mitre cut the corners on a 45degree angle. Apply a bead of suitable quick grab adhesive to the BACK of the beading only! Not the base. Hold in position for a minute or so, and hey presto! Finished

Tools you will need:
Faithfull 150mm Engineers Square
Faithfull 150mm Engineers Square
- Faithfull 16oz Fibreglass Handled Claw Hammer
Faithfull 16oz Fibreglass Handled Claw Hammer
- Black & Decker 450W Variable Speed Jigsaw
Black & Decker 450W Variable Speed Jigsaw
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