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Ultimate Guide to Laminate Flooring

Installing Laminate Flooring
Laminate floors are installed over an underlayment using tongue-and-groove joints.
Laminate floors are installed over an underlayment using tongue-and-groove joints.
© ­iStockphoto/Edward Shaw

­There are two common types of laminate flooring installations: glue and glueless. While glueless is more common because of its ease of installation, glue creates a seal between the planks, making it a good choice for areas of the home where spills generally occur. Consumers tend to lean toward the glueless floors because they can install them themselves, and these floors can be walked on immediately. These types of floors are referred to as floating floors because they are not fastened to the subflooring. An underlayment, which is a layer of cork, foam or rubber, is placed under the laminate floor to act as a sound barrier.

Some brands of flooring need to acclimate to the room's environment prior to installation. This could take anywhere from one to three days, depending on the room's temperature and moisture level. Speak to a home improvement specialist or, if possible, the manufacturer of the product for guidelines if you're installing the flooring yourself. Otherwise, the contractor installing the product will know this information.

­Preparation of the ­original floor underneath the laminate flooring is relatively simple. Carpet and tack-board must be ripped out before installation. Laminate floors can be installed directly over concrete, plywood, OSB, parquet, vinyl and tile. The underlayment must be applied to the original flooring surface first, and then the floating floor can be installed. Check with a home improvement specialist to see which und­erlayment is best for the flooring you are installing.

If you want to install your laminate floor yourself, remember to stagger your seams, and avoid placing planks with identical wood grains next to each other. Avoid using too much force when you join the planks together. Parts of the tongue-and-groove joint can snap, especially in thinner or lower-quality styles.

Once you've installed your floor, how do you keep it looking good? Find out on the next page.