Should Concrete Floors Be Sealed Before Laying Laminate?

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Laminate flooring provides a durable floor surface.
Laminate flooring provides a durable floor surface. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Laminate is a durable, low-maintenance flooring choice that comes in a wide range of style options, including wood or tile-like surfaces. Laminate floors are suitable for most living spaces in a home but should not be installed in areas that are subject to excessive moisture. You can install laminate products over most subfloor surfaces, including concrete, when you follow the manufacturer's recommendations.

Concrete Floors

Concrete floors provide a suitable surface for the installation of laminate flooring as long as installation recommendations by the manufacturer are followed. New concrete must be properly cured and allowed to dry for at least 60 days prior to installation. Any subfloor must be dry, clean, flat and structurally sound. If the concrete floor is not completely level, it should be leveled using a leveling compound. Gaps need to be filled in prior to installation. Do not install laminate flooring on floors with a floor drain or over any floor with a sump pump. You don't need to seal a concrete floor before installing laminate; however, to prevent moisture from the concrete floor from affecting your laminate, install a vapor barrier of polyethylene film. Install this barrier even if the concrete subfloor is covered by vinyl, linoleum, terrazzo or ceramic tile.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring comes in a wide selection of colors and patterns resembling hardwood flooring or tile. The flooring is a composite product that is designed to hold up to the daily wear and tear that a floor receives. The laminate floor product is made up of four layers. The back layer provides structural stability and resistance to moisture while a fiberboard core provides stability and resistance to impact. A decorative layer gives the floor the appearance of natural wood or tile, and the outer layer of the flooring resists fading, surface moisture and wear. Laminate floors are designed to be stain and wear resistant. Overall, a laminate floor is durable and requires little maintenance to maintain its appearance.

Installation

Before installing laminate flooring over concrete, prepare the surface properly. Remove baseboards and molding. After ensuring that the floor is level, install the moisture barrier sheeting of polyethylene film, overlapping the edges by 8 inches. Tape the seams using a polyethylene tape. Some laminate flooring comes with a foam backing. If there is no attached backing on your product, lay sheets of foam underlayment on the floor, which acts as a sound barrier and also creates a more comfortable surface for standing and walking. Butt the edges of the underlayment together, and tape the seams with polyethylene tape. Install the laminate flooring over the underlayment following the manufacturer’s recommendations, leaving a gap of 1/4 inch between the laminate and the walls to allow for variations in boards due to seasonal fluctuations in temperature and moisture. When replacing the molding and baseboards, nail the pieces to the wall, not to the laminate.

Considerations

A laminate floor is considered a floating floor as it is not nailed or glued to the subfloor. Planks are fastened together in tongue-and-groove fashion. Floors expand and contract with temperature and humidity fluctuations. Because of the tendency of the floor to expand and contract, installation in bathrooms, saunas or other rooms with high humidity is not recommended. Daily vacuuming, sweeping or dry mopping will keep the surface looking good. When mopping the floor is necessary, use a spray cleaner recommended for laminate flooring and a dry terrycloth mop. Avoid using harsh cleaners, waxes and wet mops.

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