- Diagnostics of the condition of the wooden floor
- Base repair
- Surface leveling
- Preparing for installation
Ideal geometry, lock connection, simple installation, no need for additional surface treatment – these advantages explain the popularity of laminate flooring, including when laying with your own hands. The main difficulty is preparing the foundation. Especially if it is wooden floors.
Diagnostics of the condition of the wooden floor
Typical signs of major defects:
- The cracks between the boards. Even dried wood has some moisture and continues to dry out over time. The most variable dimensions are perpendicular to the grain direction (i.e. board width).
- Cracks in the floorboards. They can have two reasons – internal stress (usually occurs with a solid board) and the effect of fasteners.
- Creak. Almost all wooden “household” floors will creak over time, even when installed correctly. The floorboard between the joists is a beam, with two clamped ends, working in bending when acting on it in the center. The floorboard will “spring”, and the adhesion to the fasteners will weaken, and a creak will appear.
- Rotting. Can be detected in places of peeling and swelling of the paintwork or identified by a dull sound when the floorboard is tapped with a hammer.
- Subsidence of floorboards. Two possible reasons – incorrectly chosen lag layout step for this board thickness or lag destruction.
- A clear sensation of dampness coming from the floor. The reason is the absence or poor-quality waterproofing of the floor, for which the wooden floor is laid.
The elimination of each defect has its own technology.
In principle, the usual gaps between the base boards will not affect the laying quality of the laminate, since the direction of laying the base and the topcoat must be mutually perpendicular.
Large gaps can be sealed with slats with a thickness of the gap and a width equal to the thickness of the floorboard.
And if it is necessary to level the surface, then an additional subfloor will be created from plywood, chipboard or fiberboard.
Cracks in floorboards, like cracks, do not need to be putty. But if they pass through the attachment points, then this will be one of the reasons for the squeak. And this must be fought.
It is almost impossible to completely eliminate the creak of wooden floors. It can be loosened by strengthening the fastening. The nails are “sunk” with a doboinnik, and one or two self-tapping screws are screwed nearby. The head of the self-tapping screw should be recessed into the body of the board by a couple of millimeters.
A rotten board can be removed in whole or in part (the repair fragment should rest on the logs).
The last two defects will require drastic measures. We’ll have to disassemble the wooden floor. If the floorboards sag due to the large pitch of the lag, then the lags will have to be moved by adding new ones.
If the floor subsidence occurred only in one area, then the lag was originally rotten or it rotted due to poor-quality waterproofing.
In the first case, they change the defective lag (and inspect the neighboring ones – some types of rot are very “infectious”).
In the second case, the floor is waterproofed again and the floors are re-laid with the replacement of damaged elements.
This stage is necessary if the difference in the height of the unevenness of the base is more than 2 mm per 1 m. There are two ways to level the surface:
- grinding (sinking the heads of the mountings);
- using sheet wood materials – plywood, chipboard or fiberboard.
Plywood or chipboard is considered more moisture resistant, but only class E1 can be used for residential premises.
Fiberboard (or hardboard) is more environmentally friendly, but also more sensitive to high humidity.
A prerequisite is that there is a good waterproofing layer under the wooden floor that protects the wood and laminate from fumes from below. This is especially important for the first floor, rooms above arches, etc. Why not under the laminate? In the manufacturer’s instructions, you can find a clause that says that the materials for protection from fumes must be under an additional organic floor. Plywood, chipboard and fiberboard, as well as wooden floors, are this very “organic”. If the vapor barrier is laid under the leveling sheets, the conditions for normal use of the wooden floor will be violated, and it will begin to rot.
Attention! The underlay serves for noise insulation and compensation of small (up to 2 mm) irregularities. It does not replace the vapor barrier film.
Large sheets of plywood and chipboard are usually cut into several pieces, otherwise they will wobble and sag on irregularities. For example, a standard rectangular plywood sheet 2.44×1.22 is cut into 2 or 8 squares, and a large square sheet (1.525×1.525) is cut into 4.
Then a preliminary layout of the sheets is done, with an offset of the rows and a gap between the walls (at least 10 mm). Additional fragments are cut out, numbered, and fixed to the base with self-tapping screws. A gap of up to 5 mm is left between the sheets (to compensate for changes in geometry under the influence of moisture changes). Seams between sheets must be sealed with elastic filler.
Preparing for installation
Before purchasing a laminate, you need to calculate it. Knowing the area of the room, the direction of laying in the room (length, width, diagonal), the dimensions of the laminate board and the installation features, it is easy to do it yourself. But the managers of the trading organization can do the same..
There are also simpler techniques..
For example, for standard-shaped rooms and laying along their length (or width), it is enough to provide a 5% margin (for trimming strips along the length). When adjusting to the width, it is necessary to increase the calculated value by the number of narrow strips.
When calculating, it is important to take into account that the use of the trimmed part of the panel is possible if:
- length not shorter than 40 cm;
- width not narrower than 10 cm.
For diagonal laying, the margin should be 15%.
Since the laminate is sold in packs (in most cases from 8-10 planks and an area of 1.85-2.05), the calculation for small rooms becomes even easier. In many cases, it is sufficient to round up the number of packs to a whole number..
Before installation, the laminate must be acclimatized to the room conditions. Packs are stacked in a stack, alternately 2×2, without unpacking. Withstand 2-3 days at a temperature not lower than 18 ° C and humidity not less than 60%.
Laminate panels are fastened to each other using a lock connection. The floor is not attached to the base and is of the “floating” type.
There are two main locks – Click and Lock. The first type, due to the special configuration of the groove and the ridge, snaps into place, has a strong grip without the use of glue, but is more difficult to install.
The second type has the usual groove and ridge profile. It is easier to install, but glue must be used for reliable adhesion of the panels..
If the ends of the laminate do not have a water-repellent factory protection, and the installation takes place in a “glueless” way, then before laying they must be treated with protective hydrophobic compounds.
The laminate is laid on a substrate of foamed polyethylene or rolled technical cork, which is not laid all at once, but in stages. The edges of the backing strips are sealed with tape.
There are two ways to mount the surface: symmetrical and arbitrary.
Symmetrical is characterized by the same width of the panels of the first and last row (taking into account the expansion gap to the walls).
With arbitrary laying, the first row begins with a whole panel, and ends with a cut in width (but not already 10 cm).
The first row is mounted with a thorn (or a cut off from the side of the thorn) to the wall, at least 10 mm away from it. The same gap is left at the short end of the first and last panel in the row. To do this, use special mounting wedges, which are removed before installing the skirting boards..
If the cut of the last panel of the first row is more than 40 cm, then you can start laying the second row from it..
Each next row should have a seam offset (along the short end) of at least 40 cm relative to the previous one. You can make a “rhythmically” repeating pattern offset by 1/2 or 1/3 panel.
The Lock lock allows you to type each next row one panel at a time, knocking them together through a special bracket or block.
The Click does not require tamping, but the second and subsequent strips must be pre-assembled at the short end. When assembled, the strip is completely closed to the previous row: it is held in weight at an angle of 30 °, the spike is inserted into the groove until it clicks (click) and lowered.
After completing the laying of the last row, the wedges are removed, and the gap is closed with baseboards.