What’s Involved in Putting Down a Laminate Floor Myself?

| 5/1/2008 12:00:00 AM

What’s involved in putting down a laminate floor myself? 

Laminate flooring came to North America nearly 20 years ago. Laminates please a lot of people, but they disappoint more than a few homeowners, too. The outcome depends on the flooring you choose, where you use it and your expectations. Are you thinking about a new hard-surface floor for your home?  Laminates have a lot to offer, but there are things you need to understand that you won't find in sales brochures.

Installing FlooringOriginally developed in Europe, laminates are made of a high-density fiberboard core covered with a visible, outer layer that simulates wood, stone or tile. Some laminates are available in plain colors, too. Neighboring pieces fit together with tongue and groove edges, without attaching to the underlying floor at all. Original designs required all these edge joints to be glued together, but most modern laminates click together with a self-locking, glueless tongue and groove joint.

My 10- and 17-year-old sons and I recently put down about 500 sq. ft. of flooring in my office in one day, including some areas that required fancy cutting. It got to the point where my youngest helper could quickly and easily install the flooring all on his own, unattended, as fast as any carpenter. Professional installation costs are typically 50 percent above material costs, so you can save money if you put it down yourself.

DIY success is easy if you understand several essential tricks on cutting, fitting and working around existing door trim and baseboard. For technical information on installing your own laminates, send me an e-mail.

Besides speed, laminate flooring is also one of the best wood-type options for installation above radiant in-floor heat. It resists drying and shrinkage better than solid wood floors, and it also requires no nails that might puncture the plastic heating pipes that carry warm water. Laminates simply float, installed over a thin layer of medium density foam underlay that compensates for the inevitable small bumps and depressions in the subfloor.

Bill Brown
1/12/2012 1:20:15 AM

How does laminate stand up to a 300# power chair + 250# occupant hold up on a living room floor on a daily basis as this person is home all day? Would a solid t+g hardwood be better? Bill B

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