Laminate flooring is very popular because it is hard wearing, easy to lay (more on that later) and looks good. I just finished laying a laminate floor running from the kitchen (concrete base) to the dining room (floorboards) and I am very pleased with the result. If you take things slowly and carefully I am sure you will be pleased with your results too.
Tools for laying a laminate floor
a sharp knife to cut underlay
a saw to cut the laminate boards,
a set square for marking cut lines,
a tape measure,
a wooden or rubber faced mallet.
First decide if you will be removing your current skirting boards and replacing them above the laminate later. This would be the most professional finish, but entails a lot of extra work, so most people (me included) simply leave the skirting in place, treating it as the wall edge and add an extra piece of laminate edging to the bottom of the skirting board.
Whichever you choose to do, you need to be starting with either a flat dry concrete or wooden base. The first step is to lay a waterproof membrane.
This is basically a large plastic sheet to stop any damp rising and ruining the laminate boards. It is important that the floor beneath the membrane is flat and has been well vacuumed to remove any grit which might penetrate the membrane.
My concrete kitchen floor was uneven, so I flattened it with self levelling compound. This took an extra couple of days but is a necessary step.
Most people recommend flooring is laid along the room, running the boards towards the window if there is one. However, if the adjacent room has boards running in a particular direction, continue the same alignment for a larger feel to the space.
Now roll out a couple of strips of underlay along the longest straight wall, starting in one corner. The underlay is a 2mm cushion to spread the weight which helps protect the laminate. It also acts as insulation which is good news if you are replacing carpet with laminate. The underlay will keep the heat in and reduce noise.
Here is my tip. Get some double sided sticky tape and use little bits just to loosely fix the underlay to the floor so it doesn’t move around while you lay the laminate.
Now place the first piece of laminate in the corner, on top of the underlay, allowing a gap of 5 to 10 mm around the edge for the the laminate to expand as the room is heated. Most laminate is produced as ‘click-together’ boards that require no glueing. The tongue or groove edge sits a little away from the wall. Effectively the laminate is a ‘floating floor’ not attached to the underlay and able to move around.
Stagger all the end joints by at least 30cm to make the laminate less obvious.
Laying laminate is easy, except for when you have to go around corners. Use a template to cut your boards to the correct profile.
If a pipe rises up through the floor, the laminate must be cut close, but not touching the pipe. You will be able to purchace pipe collars for flooring to hide the exta cuts in the board. They come as eather little flat rings or a solid raised wooded ones. Both look great and are worth buying.
As i said earlier, the laminate floor ‘floats’ above the original floor, expanding and contracting a bit each day as temperatures change.
To hide the gap between laminate and walls we can either replace the skirting if we removed it earlier, or (as most people do) attach a new edging strip to the wall (dont attach it to the laminate).