Laminate flooring has many advantages. Because it is attractive, versatile, extremely durable and appropriate for any room, laminate flooring is great for any most home makeovers. It’s available in the most popular wood finishes, and it can be installed over almost any existing flooring.
Laminate flooring is quick to install, durable, and easy to clean. As a result it is ideal for installation over many existing floors including old resilient flooring and is suitable for installation over wood or concrete subfloors and basements.
A laminate floor is installed using the floating-floor method, meaning the planks aren’t fastened down with nails or glue. Instead, the tongue-and-groove planks are snapped together and then laid, or “floated,” over a thin rubber underlayment. This method is one of the quickest, easiest ways to install a new floor. It typically takes about 4 hours to install flooring in a 10 x 12–foot room.
Lowes stores have in stock and special order laminate flooring by Pergo, Style Selections, Project Source, Allen + Roth, and Swift Lock.
The most important step in installing laminate flooring is preparation.
Temperature and humidity can affect flooring planks. Acclimate the flooring in the house for 48 hours before installation. Stack the laminate flooring being used flat on the floor. Remove any plastic wrapping from the boxes and leave air space around each box to allow air to freely circulate around them. Have about 10 percent more flooring than the square feet of area of the room since you’ll waste just a little when cutting some pieces.
Don’t forget about the AC rating. The AC Rating system has became the standard rating system for laminate flooring products worldwide. It rates the durability of a laminate floors Abrasion Class, with ratings of AC1-AC5. All manufacturers of laminate flooring follow these standards for the benefit of consumers. You must also check the AC rating before buying laminate floors to ensure it is recommended for your project.
Most laminates available in Lowes stores will be AC3. The higher the rating, the more durability. However, you will lose some shine and luster as you move up the scale. You wouldn’t want to install AC5 commercial laminate in your bedroom. You should find the AC rating on all packs of laminate flooring that you buy. If it’s not on there, its probably an inferior product, so think twice before you buy!
- AC1 – Residential. Designed for residential areas with light traffic. Great for bedrooms.
- AC2 – Residential. Flooring that can withstand more traffic. Suitable for most living rooms, kitchens and dining rooms.
- AC3 – Residential/Commercial. Laminate flooring that can withstand heavy traffic, like a kitchen, and may also be used in a professional setting with light traffic.
- AC4 – Commercial. Laminate flooring is designed for commercial applications with moderately intense traffic. Ideal for small shops and offices.
- AC5 – Commercial. Laminate flooring is designed for high-traffic commercial areas like department stores, shopping centers, and office buildings. It has a rougher finish that can withstand the most abuse.
Clean the subfloor. Make sure it’s free of any dirt and debris. If installing on top of a new concrete floor wait until the floor is fully cured. Using a pry bar and hammer, carefully remove all base molding and place it out of the way. If your laminate flooring has a pre-attached underlayment you may still need a moisture barrier if installing over concrete.
Most laminate requires a sheet 6 mil thick, but use whatever your floor manufacturer recommends. Overlap the seams by 8 inches or as recommended. If your laminate does not have pre-attached underlayment you must purchase one with the required moisture barrier.
Plan the layout. To decide which direction to lay the planks, consider which wall is the longest and straightest. Avoid a narrow strip against the focal-point wall. Planks in the last row should be at least 2 inches wide. Figure on a 1/4-inch gap at each wall. Note it: If the last row will be less than 2 inches wide, add that width to the width of a full plank and divide by 2. Cut planks in the first and last rows to this width.
Start the install. Depending on your layout, you may need to rip, or cut, the first row of planks lengthwise. If using a power saw, cut with the finished side down; if using a handsaw, cut with the finished side up. Use clamps to steady the planks as you cut them.
It’s easiest to assemble the first two rows when they’re a couple of feet away from the starting wall, and then slide them into place.
Start with a full-length plank with the groove facing into the room. Snap the third plank into the end of the first plank. Put down a fourth plank, snapping the end into the end of the second plank, and leaving a slight gap between the long edges of the two planks.
Kneel on the first plank to hold it in place while you work. Lift the edge of the third plank about 1 inch off the floor. Pull the plank towards you, while pushing down on the first plank right next to the seam. The planks should snap together. Repeat on the next two planks.
Continue laying the first two rows across the length of the room. When you get to the last plank, put a spacer against the wall, and cut a plank to fit in the opening. Put the plank in place, then snap it into the end groove, using a hammer and block.
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Always read and follow the directions. Whether you buy your laminate from Lowes, Home Depot or online, you must follow the directions carefully. Different brands of flooring fit together differently, so follow the directions that come with the flooring you buy.
Installing laminate flooring from Lowes is a great way to improve the value of your home. Laminate flooring is a great alternative to more expensive hardwood, and is a medium difficulty DIY project. Installing laminate flooring in a 12′ x 12′ room should take approximately one day to complete with two people. Lowes also offers an installation program for all laminates.
Its rather easy to install, but most importantly, laminate flooring requires flat, smooth subfloor. The planks are designed to be snapped together along their interlocking edges, creating a floating floor where no nails or glue are required to secure to the subfloor.
In less than 20 years, laminate has become the fastest growing type of flooring sold. It’s easy to see why: Laminate flooring is extremely durable, highly stain-resistant, affordable, and designed for an easy do-it-yourself installation.
By Victoria Stone