DIY laminate flooring: step by step instructions

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Laminate is absolutely deservedly popular: it is an easy-to-install and durable light-class coating that can be used on floors of various types. At the same time, there are several tricks for choosing and laying a laminate, which we will tell you about..

DIY laminate flooring: step by step instructions

Subfloor requirements

Laminate is notable for its low quality requirements for the surface on which it is laid. During the initial finishing of the floor, it is required to ensure flatness with an unevenness tolerance of no more than 3 mm / m The presence of cracks and small defects does not play a decisive role.

Also, laminate flooring is allowed to be laid without dismantling the existing coating when it comes to linoleum, tiles, parquet, boardwalk and other materials that form a solid surface. The only requirement for the base in this case is the absence of damaged floor elements. Peeling tiles, linoleum bulges and similar defects are not allowed..

DIY laminate flooring: step by step instructions

Before starting work on laying the laminate, the base must be carefully cleaned and disinfected. Also, the surface must be dried without fail..

Selection and installation of the substrate

There are three main types of underlays for laminate flooring: roll made of expanded polyethylene or cork, and expanded polystyrene tiles. The choice of substrate is determined by the installation conditions and the type of substrate, and it is very important to make sure that the material is really of high quality. The thickness of cork and PPS tiles usually does not exceed 2–3 mm, rolled polyethylene foam can have a greater thickness with the expectation of further shrinkage of 20–30%. The thicker the backing, the better it hides the unevenness of the floor, however, this increases the load on the connection between the laminate boards.

DIY laminate flooring: step by step instructions

Polyethylene foam is a timeless classic, this material in most cases fulfills all tasks. If additional insulation is required or a heating film is placed under the laminate, it is better to choose a substrate covered with foil on one side, that is, with a heat-reflecting screen. You also need to check the quality: squeeze the edge of the material strongly and assess whether it completely restores its shape.

Roll cork is an option for lovers of natural materials. The cork copes with the functions of the substrate somewhat worse due to its low elasticity and lower thickness compared to polyethylene foam. Because of this, a more thorough preparation of the rough surface is required, as a rule, a leveling screed is poured under the cork. Among the advantages of the cork is a decrease in the acoustic effect when walking.

DIY laminate flooring: step by step instructions

Tiled backing is a special case. It conducts heat worse and therefore such material is often used in floor heating devices. There is another aspect: thanks to the form factor of the tiles, it is allowed to lay the substrate during the installation of the coating, which cannot be done with roll materials, which must be located across the direction of laying. The benefit from this property of expanded polystyrene tiles is especially useful when laying laminate over a large area or if other finishing works are being carried out in parallel in the room..

DIY laminate flooring: step by step instructions

Whatever material is used for the substrate, there are several important rules. Firstly, tapes or tiles must be glued together with adhesive tape to prevent displacement during operation. It is necessary to join the parts of the substrate with a gap of about 1 mm. Another mandatory requirement is to constantly maintain cleanliness on the surface of the substrate and to limit the throughput as much as possible until the installation of the laminate is completed..

Determining the layout and direction of the layout

Traditionally, the laminate is laid along the fall of natural light, and in rooms with increased throughput, along the main direction of walking. It is believed that in this case, the joints will be less noticeable, the visual integrity of the coating of piece elements also increases, and the discrepancies in the pattern become less noticeable. If we are talking about a corner room with windows on both walls, the installation direction can be any, because shadows are practically not formed under this lighting. It is believed that in such situations it is better to give preference to a diagonal layout, but there is little benefit from this. But there are many disadvantages: a large number of scraps, the formation of gaps at the junctions and a more complex installation.

DIY laminate flooring: step by step instructions

For some types of laminate, there is no difference in how the short joints are positioned. First of all, this applies to coatings without distinguishing boundaries between the elements, they are tied up so that the short joints in adjacent rows are displaced by at least 1.5 of the board width. To do this, usually at the beginning of the row, a trim is installed, which remains from the manufacture of the end of the previous one. However, the layout is very important for beveled laminate or designer flooring with complex patterns. Optimal in such cases is considered to be the displacement of short joints relative to the previous row by a third of the length of the element. If we are talking about short format materials with an aspect ratio of less than 4: 1, it is better to offset it by half the length..

Types of laminate locks

The last thing to be learned before proceeding with the installation is the types of lock connections. There are only two of them, but in each case the technique of handling floor elements and combining them into a continuous coating is seriously changing..

DIY laminate flooring: step by step instructions

The first type of locks is called driven or lock in the foreign classification. Its peculiarity is that when connected, the elements are located strictly in the same plane, snapping occurs due to the elastic properties of the material. When joining, the edges of the groove are bent to the sides, after which they reliably squeeze a thorn of a complex shape, pulling the boards to each other. Laminate with hammer-in locks has less prominent joints, however, due to increased loads, the tongue-and-groove connection may wear out and the joints disperse.

DIY laminate flooring: step by step instructions

Drive-in locks are gradually being replaced by more technologically advanced click systems. To connect a new element with a laid coating, it is inserted into the groove at an angle and, lowering it back, snapped. This design of the lock provides increased resistance to stress and easy dismantling. There are few cons, for the most part this is a requirement for increased accuracy when working.

First row set

Before starting the installation of the laminate, you need to measure the width of the room in the direction across the installation. This is done in order to find out: what will be the width of the extensions in the final row. If it turns out that it is less than 7-8 cm, the first row should be trimmed accordingly.

Initially, you need to collect all the elements of the first row by cutting out the final addition of the appropriate length. The laminate is positioned with a spike against the wall and a groove towards itself. After that, the entire row in the assembly should be moved to the wall, align the elements along the open edge and assess the tightness. If the difference in gap thickness exceeds 2–3 mm, it is necessary to perform a longitudinal trimming in the right places.

DIY laminate flooring: step by step instructions

The specificity of the installation of the first row is that it is assembled in parallel with the second, and sometimes with the third. That is, the first element is initially joined not by the short end with the adjacent panel along the row, but with the pre-cut extension of the second row. After that, the docking is performed along the short edge, followed by the solid element of the second row, and so on in a checkerboard pattern. This is done in order to ensure dressing and prevent displacement of short joints, due to which a bending of the laying line is possible..

Laying the main surface

Obviously, the actions for joining the laminate boards are of the same type, and therefore the set of the main coating is not much different from the assembly of the first row. You just need to highlight a few nuances regarding the difference in working with certain types of locks, cutting extensions and similar installation nuances.

It is necessary to cut the laminate strictly at right angles; in the case of a diagonal layout, be sure to use templates or a bevel. Laminate flooring lends itself well to sawing both by hand and with a jigsaw. The saw blade should be fine-toothed to minimize chipping. Do not expect that the cut edge will be covered with a plinth, because in reality the overlap in this place is only 5–7 mm from the cut edge.

DIY laminate flooring: step by step instructions

Laminate with hammer-in locks does not tolerate a non-professional approach. To close the joints, it is necessary to make an impact spacer from a 25–30 cm long panel cut, from which the protruding part of the spike is cut off. Before joining, the next board is placed so that a gap of 1-2 mm remains at the short joint. First, the laminate is joined along the long side, tapping with short blows along the entire length of the board and moving the spacer in increments of 15–20 cm. Then the board is knocked into the short end, ensuring that the gap at the joint disappears. To install the final row, the panels are simply pressed with a pry bar, using the wall as a stop.

DIY laminate flooring: step by step instructions

It is easier to snap the click system locks, but at the same time there is a great risk of damaging the edge of the laminate if the tongue was initially inserted into the groove incorrectly. And the right thing to do is to tilt the abutting element at 45 ° and insert it into the groove until it stops, and then gently press it to the floor, while the lock should make a dry click. There is one important point: some types of laminate have a click lock on the long side and hammer on the short side, in which case the transverse lock is closed by tapping the board. If on the short side there is a klick type lock, then the entire next row is first assembled completely along the entire length, and then assembled together with the already laid coating, which is not so easy to do alone.

Technological clearances and the problem of a single contour

Laminate is a floating floor, it is not rigidly attached to the base of the floor. This is due to the fact that the material is characterized by linear deformation with changes in humidity and temperature. This circumstance forces to leave impressive expansion gaps from walls and all kinds of obstacles – not less than 8-10 mm, while the area of ​​overlapping of the plinth is about 15 mm. It is important that a sufficiently large gap is also ensured in the places of passage through the floor of communications, for example, radiator inlets.

DIY laminate flooring: step by step instructions

To ensure that the gaps remain intact, the coating is protected from displacement by means of pairs of thin mounting wedges. They initially distance the entire first row from the wall: at least two pairs of wedges for each board. Then, as the laying progresses, the ends of each 3-4 rows are supported on both sides. Before installing the skirting board, all wedges are of course removed.

The tendency of the laminate to linear deformation is associated with the problem of laying the coating without separation by sills in the openings, that is, a single contour. The possibility of such a method of finishing the floor directly depends on the quality of the laminate, however, practice has shown that a single contour, as a rule, swells in cases where the total coverage area is more than 100 m2 or if the length of the floor in at least one direction exceeds 14-15 m. However, swelling laminate flooring is an absolutely unpredictable process, and even if it happens, the situation cannot be regarded as catastrophic. When the first signs of swelling of the coating appear, it is simply cut in fact and divided by sills in the openings, leaving gaps of the required size.

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