Everything You Need to Know About Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is fast becoming the Concrete Staining Patterns of choice among consumers to install in family rooms, basements, dens and even kitchens due to a number of factors. Given the expensive cost of both purchasing and installing ceramic an hardwood floors it’s no wonder these floors have seen an explosive increase in their demand. This flooring is available in different species of wood with different stain options. There are even tile and slate laminate floors.

A laminate floor is produced by combining layers of wood or other composite material joined together with an adhesive which forms a plank about 6″ x 48″. Since solid wood flooring strips are most commonly found in width’s of 2 ½”, a single laminate floor plank can contain several strips. Just like with solid wood flooring, laminate floor planks can also be made to resemble 4″ x 6″ hardwood flooring widths as well.

Although wood laminate flooring is the most common type, tile and slate laminate flooring are becoming increasingly popular among consumers. Tile laminate flooring can be made to resemble traditional ceramic, porcelain or slate tile. The size of these planks generally average 12″ X 48″ so they more closely resemble the size of natural ceramic and slate tiles.

There are several advantages to installing laminate flooring in lieu of a ceramic tile or solid wood floor. Laminate flooring is considerably easier to install than solid wood flooring or ceramic tile. Not only are the labor costs less, but laminate flooring also requires no ancillary materials such as thinset or fasteners. Besides the savings in labor costs, this flooring material is also cheaper per square foot than most solid wood and ceramic tile floors.
Today’s discerning homeowner has a wealth of choices when selecting a laminate wood floor for your home. Companies can now produce this flooring in oak, maple, walnut, cherry, mahogany, and bamboo; all with a variety of color and design options. Whether you’re installing laminate flooring in your kitchen, hallway, or bedroom, there is a type to suit your needs.

Besides the attractive cost benefits, this flooring is so easy to install that even the average “do-it-yourselfer” can complete it. If you choose to undertake this beginner level project then there are a few important facts you must take into account. First, the subfloor of whichever room you are renovation will either by concrete or plywood. Both types of subfloors require the installation of an underlayment before proceeding to the flooring. Concrete floors tend to be colder than plywood so choosing a thicker underlayment to improve the insulation might be a wise choice. Other benefits of the underlayment are its ability to act as a vapor barrier and its sound dampening qualities.

Once the underlayment is installed, check the dimensions of the room to determine the center point. This is a must for ensuring a symmetrical layout with even cuts along all the walls. After that, the installation becomes relatively easy. Laminate flooring has an inter-locking seam along the leading edges which allows each piece to lock into each other. Start from one corner and work your way out towards the center of the room by inserting shims between the wall and the flooring pieces. Since all wood expands and contracts, it’s extremely important to leave about a 1/8″ gap between the wall and the flooring. This will ensure the floor has room to expand and will eliminate buckling during the warm months of the season.

The tools required for this type of project are pretty basic. You will need a tape measure, hammer, and a power saw at the minimum. A table saw and jig saw are extremely handy for ripping long strips of laminate planks or detailed cuts around corners or door jambs. Most flooring manufacturers provide a kit which has some useful tools in it to help speed up the installation. Each kit contains shims, a hammering block and a pull bar. The hammering block has a groove along each edge that allows it to lock in with the leading and butt edges of each laminate flooring plank. The pull bar hooks into the seam between the wall and the floor plank and you can hit the other end with a hammer to pull the floor tight to the adjacent piece. Both of these tools facilitate the installer in making each seam tight and flush.

When it comes to laminate flooring, you can’t find a better looking product for the price. With most companies offering 5 and 10 year warranties, you can feel safe knowing your investment will be in you home for years to come.

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