How to prepare your floor before installing laminate flooring
Laminate is an affordable and attractive option for upgrading your home’s flooring. It is available in different textures and colours to suit your interior décor, plus it is durable and easy to maintain.
You can install laminate flooring in most rooms in your house but it is not advisable to lay this type of flooring in bathrooms and laundry rooms as they usually have a high moisture level that makes the laminate more prone to damage.
Proper preparation of the existing floor is essential for ensuring flawless installation of your laminate flooring. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to prepare your floor before installing laminate flooring. This guide covers the following sections:
- Check moisture levels
- Level the floor
- Undercut door trims and door jambs
- Clean the floor
- Lay a moisture barrier
- Acclimate the laminate flooring to the room where it will be installed
Since the inner core of laminate flooring is made of wood, it is important to ensure moisture levels of your sub-floor are low. This is because if any moisture comes into contact with the wooden core of the laminate planks, whether through splitting or cracks, then it will cause the core to expand, causing the laminate flooring to warp. A moisture-laden subfloor will make the laminate flooring susceptible to this kind of damage. To make sure you don’t subject your new laminate flooring to these conditions, you will need to check your sub-floor for any moisture; your laminate manufacturer should offer moisture testing standards for you to refer to.
If you have a concrete subfloor, you can check the moisture levels with a “sheet test”. All you will need is some duct tape and plastic sheeting, which you need to cut into a 60x60cm square. Make sure that the concrete where you intend to place the plastic is free of any standing water or puddles as this will skew your test results.
Next, adhere the plastic firmly to the concrete with the duct tape and firmly press down all sides of the tape to prevent any moisture from escaping.
After 48 hours, check the plastic to see if any moisture has beaded up on the inside of the plastic.
If you have a wooden sub-floor, you can easily check the moisture levels of your sub-floor with a moisture meter to measure moisture levels, you can pick these up at most hardware stores, for around $50 the most common and easiest to use ones are digital ‘pinless’ ones that use direct contact electrodes to measure moisture levels. Pay keen attention to the corners of the house and areas that have floor drains as they are likely to have higher moisture levels.
Alternatively, if you are unsure of your results, you can always have a specialist check these levels for you. It’s better to be safe than soggy!!
Use a level to determine whether the floor is level. The laminate will not fit perfectly if the floor is uneven. Fill any dips if you have concrete floor with concrete leveller or use a concrete grinder to flatten out any high spots and if you have a wooden floor, be sure to firmly secure any loose boards and if there are any protruding screw heads and nails, screw them down to be on the same levels as the rest of the floor. Even out any high spots with a wood planer or hand sander and be sure to check the spot with your level periodically, to ensure you don’t over-correct. If your wooden flooring is particularly uneven or damaged, then you may need to call in a carpenter to undertake the correction and repair.
Determine whether there will be enough space for the doors to open once you install the new flooring. If not, trim the door and door jambs to accommodate the raised floor level.
Dust and dirt may cause unevenness on the laminate flooring and in some cases, it may cause a clicking sound once the new flooring is installed. Use a broom or a vacuum cleaner to thoroughly clean the subfloor.
If you are installing the laminate on top of concrete floor or any other subfloor that is prone to moisture, lay a moisture barrier on top of the subfloor before installing the laminate to protect it from moisture damage. It also provides extra insulation on the flooring making it comfortable to walk on. You may also install an underlay on the subfloor to serve as a moisture barrier if your laminate planks do not come with it.
Whenever you install new laminate flooring, you need to acclimate it to its new environment so that it can adjust to the new moisture and temperature conditions. Skipping this step may mean that your brand-new laminate will shrink or expand and warp after installation as it adjusts to new moisture levels and temperature.
Leave the laminate flooring in the rooms that it will be installed for 48-72 hours is recommended for most brands of laminate but always follow manufacturer’s instructions. This important step will allow your new laminate it to acclimate to the temperature and humidity levels of the room and ensures a perfect fit on the subfloor.
Once you have made the preparations above, check your laminate flooring manual for any other manufacturer’s preparation guidelines and implement those too.
Your room is now ready for the next step… installation!
Adhering to these steps will mean that your laminate will go on perfectly and will have a beautiful finish. If you have any questions about laminate or you would like to organise one of our expert Parrys Carpets team member to install your flooring, get in touch with a laminate expert today.