What Should I Do Before Installing Laminate Flooring?

Reader Contribution by Staff

I bought new laminate flooring to install myself. But when I pulled up the old carpet and padding, the sub-floor has wet spots from pets and steam cleaning. There appears to be a fine green dustlike mold also. What should I do prior to laying the floor?

I’m always surprised by how much stuff accumulates underneath wall-to-wall carpet. Over the years — even if you’re diligent about cleaning –a lot of dirt filters through the weave to the subfloor. 

If your situation is anything like I’ve seen, most of the green, dustlike material is a combination of sand and small particles of foam underlay. A simple vacuuming is the first place to start. Ideally you should use a vacuum with a HEPA-rated filter, to avoid broadcasting fine dust out of the exhaust of the vac.

With your floor superficially clean, let it dry; then look at what you’ve got. If there are pet stains and odors, scrub them using a brush and paste made by moistening some freshly purchased baking soda. (Old soda has often lost much of its deodorizing powers.) Sweep up the residual powder, let it dry and vacuum again.

>Does anything that remains look like mold? If it does, use something called Concrobium to neutralize it. Although bleach and water is often used for mold removal, it’s harsh on both your body and the environment. There’s also some question about how effectively bleach kills dormant mold spores. Concrobium is a more environmentally sound option I’ve used with great results. It’s a unique, non-toxic, spray-on liquid that kills mold spores safely by crushing them mechanically as the liquid dries out. It then inhibits mold re-growth for about 3 months.

With your subfloor clean, make sure it’s flat and fully secured with screws before laying your new floor. Laminate manufacturers specify a minimum level of subfloor flatness to support their product properly, and this is a detail you need to pay attention to.

— Steve Maxwell