Love the look of hardwood flooring but hate the high prices? Consider using laminate flooring instead. Laminate can capture the look of wood at a fraction of the cost. This material consists of a wood fiber core with a paper top, all covered by a final resinous seal coat. The paper top looks a lot like wood, but is really just a photograph of wood, which is why these floors are so affordable. Laminate flooring is a floating floor system in which the planks aren't connected to the subfloor, so you don't need to hire a professional for this installation project.
Things You'll Need
- Concrete patch/self-leveling concrete (Optional)
- Laminate flooring
- Foam underlayment
- Floor stapler
- Rubber mallet
- Miter saw
Level the concrete subfloor. If your concrete is not level, use a patching compound or a self-leveling concrete mix to even it out before you begin. Allow any patches or repaired areas to dry for 48 hours before proceeding with installation.
Purchase your laminate flooring (see Resources below). Determine the square footage of the room, including any closets, and add 20 percent to this number to determine how much flooring you'll need. The extra 20 percent will allow for cutting mistakes, and will allow you to discard any discolored or damaged pieces. It should also leave you with a bit of material at the end to use for future repairs.
Remove any baseboards or toeboards. Carefully pry these boards away from the wall using a hammer and chisel. If you are careful during removal, you will be able to reuse these boards later.
Install a foam underlayment. This material typically comes in rolls, and should cover the entire surface to provide cushion for the flooring. Lay the foam in overlapping rows, attaching the rows together with floor staples.
Lay your first plank. Start at the longest wall of the room (typically the one furthest from the door). Lay a full length plank parallel to the wall, leaving a 1/4-inch space between the wall and the plank. Don't worry, the baseboards will cover the gap when you're finished.
Continue to lay planks, connecting them with those already in place. To ensure each piece is firmly connected, tap the boards' tongue and groove connectors together with a rubber mallet.
Cut any pieces using a miter saw as required. This will allow you to fit planks into the end of each row.
Use a crowbar to install the last row, prying the planks into place between the wall and the installed planks. Again, leave a 1/4-inch gap between the boards and the wall, cutting the flooring as necessary.
Reinstall your baseboards to finish the job.
Tips & Warnings
- Save yourself a step by buying laminate flooring that already has a foam underlayment attached.
- Pay attention to the pattern of the joints as you lay the planks. Stagger the joints, making sure never to line up two rows together.
- Photo Credit Wiki Commons
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