There are plenty of ways to freshen up the decor of a property that needn’t involve great disruption or significant expense. Fitting laminate flooring is a popular choice as it adds a clean, fresh look to any room whilst also being an extremely practical and functional solution for family homes.
Many landlords choose laminate flooring for their rental properties for exactly these reasons, but an advantage for anyone is that fitting laminate flooring it is a job which is perfectly suitable for a DIY project.
At Carpetright we want all our customers to have the knowledge needed to get the best results possible so here is our essential, ten step guide to DIY fitting laminate flooring.
1. CHOOSE THE LOCATION
Laminate flooring is ideal for living areas, hallways and kitchens. In fact any area of the home that has heavy foot traffic and needs regular cleaning is a good candidate.
PICK A COLOUR SCHEME
Laminate flooring comes in a range of colours other than simple ‘wood effect’ appearances so choosing the right one is important. It is widely known that colours affect moods and change the perception of the way a room ‘feels’, so the end result you desire should influence your choice. Dark grey laminate floors are becoming increasingly popular with those after something sophisticated and smouldering.
Hyde Park Mustang Slate Laminate
3. NOISE ISSUES
Laminate flooring can have noise implications for those living in adjacent properties so careful consideration might be needed – especially for anyone in flats or multi-occupancy buildings.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs publication ‘The Development And Production Of A Guide For Noise Control From Laminated And Wooden Flooring’ lays out specific guidelines to ensure you don’t fall foul of any noise level laws or regulations but you can always do other things to cushion the blow – such as adding underlay, rugs or mats in high traffic areas.
4. CHOOSE THE RIGHT LAMINATE
Laminate flooring is typically man-made board with a protected film surface and an inter-locking profile along the edges which allows it to be pushed together to create a continuous smooth surface.
Unlike more traditional floorboards, laminate can’t be sanded if it gets scratched. However, similar but slightly more expensive ‘engineered boards’ with real wood surfaces can be re-lacquered several times. Pre-made laminate boards are the most practical option for busy family homes as they’re the easiest to lay and simply slot in together.
Dynamic Harlech Oak Laminate
5. PREPARE THE SUBFLOOR
Laminate flooring needs to be laid on a smooth and flat surface that is dry, firm and level. This can be existing floorboards, concrete flooring or specially laid substrate.
Self-levelling compound (sometimes called ‘screed’) is a free-flowing, self-smoothing material that dries to a perfectly level finish. This means it is perfect for evening out any existing chipped or uneven concrete base – giving you high quality flooring results to be proud of.
As with carpet, laminate flooring needs an underlay to prevent moisture penetration, add comfort and insulate against noise. Our entry-level, lowest-priced underlay is made from lightweight, closed cell polythene foam and offers great value for money.
Our heavy duty, tough and moisture-resistant natural rubber laminate underlay offers high density support for even greater sound insulation and compression reduction. The silver vapour barrier protects against moisture rising up from the sub-floor whilst the backing fleece extra provides stability, making it ideal for all rooms in the house, including bedrooms and nurseries.
All laminate should always be acclimatised in the room for 24 hours before fitting it into place to allow for expansion or contraction according to the conditions.
7. BOARD DIRECTION
There are several tips for choosing which direction to lay your boards but in most cases they should be arranged in the same direction as the longest straight wall.
However, if there is existing flooring in an adjacent room any lines should be laid facing in the same direction. In a square room the boards should be arranged in the direction of incoming light.
Hampton Olympus Hickory Laminate
8. LAYING THE FLOORING
Skirting boards are used to hide the join between flooring and walls and so should be removed before laminate is fitted. If this isn’t possible then thin timber mouldings can be fitted to run alongside the existing skirting board and finish the design once the laminate has been laid.
Phoenix Park Riviera Oak Laminate
Plastic spacers should be placed at 60cm intervals between the wall and the first row of boards and should be wide enough to form the recommended expansion gap all around the edge of the floor, which is usually 12mm. Laminate flooring is often known as “floating flooring” and this is because it is not fixed or glued into place so make sure you don’t get tempted to grab any industrial-strength adhesives!
Starting from one corner the first row of boards should be placed in position along the longest straight wall. The ends of each board will then fit together in a ‘tongue and groove’ method. Some types do need gluing into place (but NOT to the subfloor) while others use ‘click systems’ that don’t need an adhesive.
Adjacent rows should start with an off-cut from the first row so that they can be staggered by at least 30 cm and each board fitted together with a gentle tap with a mallet or hammer. When finished, the connecting joints will usually be barely visible.
To finish off the laminate flooring altogether use a threshold strip to create a neat connection between the other flooring across doorways.
Finally, remove the spacers and replace them with cork explanation strips which allow the flooring to expand and contract in response to the internal temperature and climate of your home.