How To Install Glueless Laminate Flooring
The Look of Wood Without the Price
Many people desire glorious wood floors throughout their homes. Wood flooring has a warm and classy look, and has many benefits that carpet doesn't provide. But real hardwood flooring is very expensive, and out of some people's price ranges. With modern technology manufacturers have come out with glueless laminate flooring. This flooring looks like wood, but is actually a photograph of wood sandwiched between layers of laminate. The glueless type is particularly easy for homeowners to install. Laminate flooring looks like wood and has many of the same benefits. Spills are easily wiped up, there are no stains involved like carpet. Also, many people suffering from allergies will notice a big improvement when carpets are removed.
So now that you know you have an affordable option to achieve the wood flooring look, let's look at how to install glueless laminate flooring.
Measure Your Space
The first thing you have to do is measure your space. Measure length by width and multiply, this will give you your total square footage.
For example: 20ft x 15ft= 300 square feet.
This is how much flooring (and sub-flooring) you will have to buy.
Remove Flooring and Trim
Now it's time to rip it, rip it good! If you have carpet, cut at the corners and watch out for tack strips. You may have to pull out staples from the subfloor if this is the case. If you discover you have wood floors underneath you may to to decide whether to recover them or to have them refinished, which can be spendy. If your have good wood floors to begin with...I'm questioning your sanity.
Also remove any trim in the room. Do so gently and carefully, you may be able to reuse it.
Purchase the Goods
Now that you know how many square feet you need, head to the hardware store of your choice. Check and compare prices and warranties, some flooring will be under warranty for 5 years, others for 15. Once you have chosen your flooring, grab as much as you need. Usually they flooring comes in boxes of about 25 square feet.
You will also need a plastic underlayment for the flooring. This acts as a cushion for the flooring as well as an insulator. Rolls of the product usually come in about 100 square foot quantities, so if you have to buy more than you need it's wise to err on the side of caution. You can always return it.
You will need several tools to complete the installation as well. Make sure to get an angled tapper to tap your boards securely into place. It looks kind of like a "z" , you hook one end onto the board and use a hammer on the other end to secure the board. You should also get spacers, which a plastic bits in certain measurements, which will help you space your boards away from the wall. A chisel may also be helpful. I found all of these things together at Lowe's in an installation pack for $15.
Underlayment and Laminate Installation
Before you do anything else bring your laminate flooring indoors and give it at least 24 hours to acclimate to your home. Laminate flooring will expand or contract with heat, and you want it at room temperature before you install it.
Once your sub-floor is level and prepped you can lay the plastic underlayment. This is very simple, all you have to do it cut the length you need, and attach it to the next sheet. Most underlayment has a stick strip where you can attach the next strip. Just make sure the underlayment is smooth and doesn't have any wrinkles, which can hinder the installation of the glueless laminate flooring.
Once you get the underlayment down the fun stuff really starts. You will need at least a table saw to get this done, but I really like a radial arm saw as well. Lay the first piece next to the wall, and place spacers between the board and the wall. This space is there to account for the expansion and contraction of the flooring. Lay the next piece at the top (not on the side) of the first piece and gently push together. Do so until you get to the point where you'll put in the last piece. Hook the "z" tapper onto the end, facing toward to laid row. Gently tap the other end with the hammer and any gaps will magically disappear and the boards lock together.
For the next row you'll be hooking the boards together on the long side. You have to hool these together with a kind of locking motion, like shutting a door. This will usually create a seamless join, but if it doesn't use the tapper again. Lay the boards in a staggered patterned in the same way you did the last row. Cut the last board to size and continue.
This is the basic gist of what it takes to do the main installation of the laminate. With 3 people we got my 500 sqaure foot space done in a day, and went out to dinner afterwards. It's honestly a project that even a relatively green do-it-yourselfer can do easily. Just practice common sense safety with the saw!
I'm honestly not the one to tell you how to do trim, because I suck at it (cry). But you can find out more at: http://www.wikihow.com/Install-Baseboard-Trim. One thing I can tell you is the cut the inside edge the length of the wall (for corners). Your angled outer edge will stick out farther, like it's supposed to. Trust me, I learned this lesson painfully.
Installing your own glueless laminate flooring will save you a lot of money. In addition you'll get a really wonderful feeling of satisfaction when you look at the beauty of what you have just accomplished. Good luck, I know you'll love your new floors!