How to lay laminate flooring correctly
Step 1: Lay the underlay
Unless you want every footstep you take to echo loudly on the floor, you'll need to lay an underlay underneath your laminate. Underlay also helps to make the floor more cushioned. Before you start, ensure that you have vacuumed and swept the surface, and have removed any inward-facing doors so that they don't get in your way. You can choose from underlay boards, or a purpose built sheet underlay.
Step 2: How to start laying the boards
Before you put the boards down, don't forget to lay spacers at 60 cm intervals along the longest wall. Ensure that the spacers are wide enough to form the recommended expansion gap all around the floor. There are two main types of laminate - the simplest just 'clicks' together, whilst the others are joined by glue at the top of the tongue and groove. Lay the boards with the groove side up and facing the wall, and start from a corner. Remember that the last board in the row will probably need to be trimmed with a saw to fit.
Step 3: Laying the next rows
You can use the off-cut of the last board from the previous row, but remember to stagger the end joints of each row by 30 cm. Keep adding the plastic spacers along the two walls. To get your boards as close to each other as possible, use an edge block and a hammer to gently tap the boards together. A fitting tool can also come in handy to push the ends of the boards together.
Step 4: Avoiding pipes
Every room is bound to have pipes, with radiators being the most common cause of them. To work around a pipe, drill a hole around 5 mm larger in diameter than the circumference of the pipe into the market point on your board where the pipe will be. Then make two angled saw cuts from the edge of the board to the sides of the hole. Once the board is fitted, you can glue these off-cuts behind the pipe. However, there must be a gap the entire way round the pipe.
Step 5: Finish the job
Pin skirting board or molding to the expansion gap, and varnish the floor. Don't ever wash your laminate flooring, but use a purpose built laminate cleaner to avoid damaging the floorboards.
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