Many of us are now moving away from having carpet in our homes and are moving towards laying laminate flooring which is easier to clean, harder wearing and for many more pleasing on the eye.
With this in mind many DIY novices – and experts alike – will be laying wooden floors during their holidays and weekends so we look at what it takes to lay a wooden floor correctly.
What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is what is known as ‘a floating floor’; this means that the floor you lay lies on top of your original floor be that concrete or wooden floorboards. Laminate floors are made up of flat boards which are joined together using a ‘tongue and groove’ formation – one board’s side will have a slot and the board opposite will have a long narrow groove that fits in securing it in place rather like a jigsaw.
Planning your Floor
The first thing to do when laying a laminate floor is to measure your room and to ensure that you have enough boards to cover the required area. The measurements are normally in square metres and it is important to get the measurements correct as the laminate flooring is usually sold in packs of square metres. You will need to know how much you will need plus an addition square metre or so (perhaps the equivalent to an extra pack) to compensate for any errors. Your floor should be measured length by width and should include the thresholds of any doorways. Remember to subtract the measurements of any large obstructions such as chimney breasts.
Types of Laminate Flooring
This is an important question to answer when choosing your floor. Many of the laminate floors available on the market today are not suitable for kitchens or bathrooms as they are not waterproof so it is worth taking the time to check what floors are available if you are laying a floor in such a room.
There are certain tools which you will need when laying your floor so it is best to prepare in advance and make sure you have the necessary equipment.
You will need:
- Craft Knife
- Electric Drill
- Knocking Block
- Tape Measure
- Adhesive Tape
- Electric Jigsaw
Before You Lay Your Floor
When you have bought the flooring that you need for your room it is a good idea to leave the packs unopened in the room that will be floored for up to seventy-two hours. The reason for this is so that the boards within the packs can adjust to the change in temperature. As you may or may not be aware wood contracts and expands in varying temperatures so allowing the boards to acclimatise to the temperatures in the designated room is always useful.
Also you should make sure that the subfloor – that is the floor onto which you will lay your laminate floor – is smooth and debris free. Using a hard brush and/or an industrial strength vacuum cleaner should be a help.
Remove skirting boards so that your laminate floor fits tight to the wall which will not only prevent having to cut boards but will also allow for a better finish.
Many people make the mistake of trying to lay a laminate floor without laying underlay beforehand. This underlay – thin sheets of foam – helps to cushion the floor and acts as a leveler for any unevenness in the subfloor.
Laying the Floor
You should cover the floor first off with your underlay – as we mentioned before it is a good idea to lie this on the subfloor to cushion the floor. Your underlay should be around 0.2mm thick and when has been laid it should also rise up along the walls by around 20cm; this is to ensure a snug fit underneath the laminate.
In the first instance lay the first row of boards out to see how they will look and decide in which direction you want them to run. You can lay the boards horizontally or diagonally the choice is yours but you must be sure as to which direction you want it to run before you begin.
With your first row, if the grooved edge is to the left you should cut it off using your jigsaw, this is so that the boards fit snugly against the wall. Once you have secured the first row you can then commence with the second but you should be aware that if you have a full length board to begin the next row, it should be cut to the length of the last board you have lain.
You will find additional instructions – and indeed instructions indicative to each manufacturer contained within the packs of laminate flooring.
Again it is important to take your time and prepare.