Laminate Flooring

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Laminate Flooring: The Basics

by Gabriel Adams
Laminate flooring is a synthetic alternative to wood flooring. Laminate flooring was not sold in the United States until about 1996, but it has been sold in European countries for about 20 years.
Laminate flooring is made up of several layers:
The surface is a hard as nails film, normally made of aluminum oxide. Right underneath the surface film is a photographic image or decor paper (usually of wood), to give the flooring the look of a natural wood floor. The core of laminate flooring is made of various materials, most often high density fiberboard, or wood particle board. The final layer of laminate flooring is the backing, made of various materials. Backings made of laminate material are superior as far as water or moisture damage is concerned.
Laminate flooring may be installed over any kind of sub floor, as it is not directly attached to the sub floor, but is a “floating” floor. Many laminate flooring manufacturers use a “click system” on the tongue and groove joints, so you can just fit the joints together and you are ready to go. Other manufacturers require you to glue the pieces of flooring together, but in either case, you do not need to nail the floor to the sub floor.
If you are laying the laminate flooring directly over a concrete sub floor, you'll need to lay down a damp proof membrane, a.k.a. DPM, before laying the flooring. This is to keep moisture from seeping up through the floor into the laminate flooring.
Laminate flooring has quite a few benefits: affordability, low maintenance, ease of installation, attractive looks, and more. It also has a few drawbacks, though: it's not as durable as real wood, doesn't absorb sound well, doesn't feel as warm to your cold feet on winter mornings, and may warp if it is exposed to moisture.

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Laminated Flooring Installation Tips

by Hannah Roberts
Laminate floors are placed over the sub-floor without actually being attached to it. In other words, laminate flooring simply lies on whatever’s underneath it (wood, cement, linoleum, etc.). Laminate floors come in squares or planks, and have a variety of shapes and sizes The planks have a tongue and groove edge which are locked together.
Many laminate floors don’t require any glue, making installation much easier with their glueless locking systems. Other laminate floors have glue pre-applied, requiring just a damp sponges to activate the adhesive. Many of the better grade laminate floors have their edges pre-sealed at the factory in order to prevent moisture from attacking the inner core structure.
Prior to installation, a special polyurethane coat is put down, over which the flooring will float. Some higher-priced underlayments reduce sound and restrict moisture penetration. The installation for laminate wood flooring is similar to hardwood, with several rows laid first to square off the room to prevent bowing and cupping of the planks.
The process of glueless laminate floor installation
The laminate flooring most commonly offered by manufacturers are glueless, also referred to as "clic-floors." The tongue and the groove of this type of flooring is meant to lock firmly in place and not come apart with foot traffic. Always read the manufacturer’s installation procedures before you start – this will prevent you from making mistakes and wasting time and effort. Also, the subfloor must be flat in order for the planks to lock together.
Tools to install glued laminate flooring
You'll need various tools to install standard laminate flooring. Again, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions and use the recommended tools.
•Glue – most, but not all, laminate floors have a special adhesive to join the planks and help keep moisture out of the core.
•Straps – these are much more effective at pulling rows of planks together than clamps are. As a rule, you'll need a set of straps for every four feet of starter rows.
•Fillers and sealants -- some laminate wood flooring manufacturers offer color coordinated fillers and sealants to cover gaps between planks and prevent moisture from entering the perimeter of the planks.
•Tapping block – use this to tap two planks together.
•Wedges – V-shaped wedges are used to ensure that there's as little gap left between the laminate floor and the walls as possible. Again, different manufacturers of laminate floors have their own recommended gap distance, so to be sure to consult your manufacturer’s installation manual.
•Pulling bar – this bar is used to pull two pieces of together. Great care must be applied in using the bars to avoid chipping the surface of the plank.

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