Installation Basics

floors, flooringThe laminate flooring manufacturers are each trying to come up with the ultimate interlock. Some use multiple dadoes in a unique pattern to make interlocking easy -- and different from anyone else’s so they can patent it.  

Laminate flooring materials are sold in boxes, typically containing about 20 sq. ft. of material and weighing about 30 pounds  per box. The boards are usually about 7-1/2 in. wide, nearly 48 in. long, and approximately 9/32-in. thick. Each brand offers slightly different dimensions; a few even offer longer boards to make the installation job easier. The board may have the photographic equivalent of two “planks” or three “strips” across the top layer.

With all the choices, which one is the best buy? That depends more on where you buy your flooring more than what flooring you buy. For example, the exact same material can vary in price a dollar per sq. ft. or more between a building materials store and a flooring store. And, if you’re a sale-chaser, you can save even more. Alternately, many brands are available at discounted prices on the Internet. However, wherever you buy, make sure the company is reputable and that you understand their return and customer satisfaction policies.

You have one more option from which to choose. Some laminate flooring materials can be installed with a stapler. Similar to installing solid hardwood floors (Installing Solid Wood Flooring), a staple is driven at an angle through the tongue of each board to secure it to the subfloor. Because laminate flooring is thinner than solid hardwood, a manual stapler can be used. Just make sure it’s installed at a 45 degree angle so the tongue will fit into the next board’s groove. Follow the manufacturer's installation directions.

Safety First

Laminate wood flooring adhesives and glues can be hazardous to your health. Make sure you work in a well-ventilated area. If your skin is sensitive to cleaners and other chemicals, wear latex gloves for protection. Gloves typically are recommended for anyone who will be using very much adhesive. Even seam glues typically include aluminum chloride and can cause skin irritation. Make sure you wash with soap and water once you’re done and, of course, don’t rub around your eyes or face.

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