Laminate flooring is a hybrid cover floor that is made up of a particleboard wooden base with an image layer and transparent wear layer on top. Laminate floors look better and glossy; they are durable and feel smooth and comfortable. Most of all, they are incredibly economical.
You can easily install new laminate flooring on plywood floors in the form of planks by cutting them up to fit the floor and then laying them side by side. After that, you should jam them down in their joints until they make a ‘click’ sound that allows you to align them on your previous plywood floor perfectly. Remember to number the planks so you can remember which one goes where!
There are a few steps that you need to follow to ensure good quality laminate over plywood flooring. It is necessary that the installation is level with your floor, smooth, and does not contain bumps and ridges which could hurt feet or damage furniture. So, look at the simple steps below to install a DIY floor that looks professional!
Installing Your floor
The steps to installing a laminate floor are:
Laying Down Your Planks
- Whenever possible, start by laying planks under the doorjamb and finish installing planks on a wall without a door jamb. Planks should be installed parallel to the main light source of the room.
- If there is no natural exterior light source, planks need to be installed parallel to the longest wall. Remember, the first row of planks should be approximately the same width as the last row! Make your necessary cuts.
- For a natural look, avoid using a repeating pattern. Alternate pulling planks from several different cartons at a time to achieve a random appearance. Tile look laminate floors are installed in a 33% or 50% offset in a pattern, but a wood-look laminate floor is meant to be placed at random.
- This is a common DIY mistake! Always use cut pieces from the end of each row for starting planks on the next row, and stagger end joints a minimum of 12” (narrower planks can be less).
- Using a saw, you may need to remove the tongue on the planks that abut the walls. This will allow room for spacers and prevent problems from spills.
- Working from left to right, install planks lengthwise in rows while facing the starting wall. Once a lengthwise connection is set, lower the plank into place and simply apply pressure by pressing the end down to lock it into place.
Click Them Into Place
- Continue with this method of assembly to add additional rows; once enough flooring is down, you should work on top of the newly installed laminate. Working on top of your original start rows, pull the planks toward you to position them before locking them into place. As you do so, you now are working right to the left.
- It is important that all joints are a tight fit; you don’t want any gaps. If a joint is loose or if all edges are not even with adjacent planks, you need to stop and reconnect.
- Cut the last row to size; if the cut isn’t straight, you can scribe it. To easily scribe, set full boards directly on top of the most recently installed row, then take a scrap that has its full width still, but maybe just 3-4 inches long, and remove the tongue.
- Then slide that scrap along the wall with a pencil on the other side, marking the plank sitting on top of the last installed row. It couldn’t hurt to number these planks, so you don’t forget which order to install them after they are cut to size; you would then cut these planks with your jig or table saw.
- Depending on their size, you may need to install them with your pull bar or crowbar.
Following all of these processes will help you properly install a laminate floor over plywood.
Preparing Your Subfloor:
The key to an exquisite subfloor is a well-prepared existing plywood floor. To do that, you need first to measure the dimensions of your floor and calculate the square footage of the space.
For a room that is shaped irregularly, you can divide it into portions, measure each, and add them up. A good tip to buying new flooring is to get 10 percent extra, so you don’t run out.
The next thing to do while preparing is to remove any carpeting or fabric layer that you have on your current floor. Wipe them off and keep them separate, so any fabric particles do not remain on your floor.
When you are done with this, make sure that you have enough space between the floor and installed objects like doorways and other furniture for your new floor. If you don’t, you might have to cut through them to make space.
Cleaning Your Floor
The next thing to do is thoroughly clean your subfloor. You can first wipe the floor clean with a mop and then use sandpaper to get rid of any paint, wax, oil, or any sort of adhesive. After this, vacuum off any dust or debris that is left.
After this, you should ideally check the level of moisture in your floor through a moisture meter. Compare the reading against the specifications provided by the laminate flooring manufacturers. Moisture can eat through wood, and it is wise to dry out the floor if levels are too high.
Your next job is to secure any floorboards that are loose or squeaky by screwing them into the floor joists. If you install your new floor directly, it will be uneven and dip in places where the boards are weak.
Creating a Floor Guide
After you are done with this, you need to create a guide on your subfloor to run a square floor. For that, find the center of the room first and mark the center of each wall on the subfloor.
Extrapolate these points towards the center of the room through a pencil or chalk. After you are done, there should be a cross in the center of the room.
To create your own guideline measurement, use the point where the cross is to measure the distance from there to the starting wall. Now, subtract the manufacturer’s expansion gap from the measurement to create your guideline measurement.
Using the new figure, measure along the parallel centerline to each end of the starting wall and make a mark. Snap a line connecting each new mark to form a guideline for starting the floor.
Choose The Best Underlayment:
When installing laminate flooring installations, the underlayment that is used is a flexible, thin sheet of a resilient material that will go on top of your plywood subfloor so that it provides a base for the laminate tiles or planks you will install.
While the subfloor supports your floor by being a foundation, the underlayment supports the flooring material itself, simultaneously enhancing and protecting the floor. Other than that, the underlayment provides several other functions.
It slightly levels the flooring and cushions the laminate planks. It also reduces sound transmission and improves the R-value of the floor, making it resistant to heat transmission.
It is important to properly select and install your underlayment because it can affect how your floor feels and holds up over time. To choose a type of underlayment, factors like environment, type of floor, and personal space requirements are considered.
You should follow all necessary instructions provided by the vendor about underlayment when installing laminate flooring because installing it wrongly can cause any manufacturer warranty to be null and void.
A breathable foam-type underlayment is generally used when installing laminate flooring over plywood or OSB subfloors. In most cases, you will not want to use a vapor-barrier-type underlayment when installing laminates on a standard plywood subfloor because wood is a natural material that needs to breathe.
Installing a vapor barrier over this can cause moisture to become trapped within the material, leading to the growth of mold or warping in the material. The exception is when laminate flooring is being installed in a high moisture area, such as a bathroom or basement, where a moisture barrier underlayment is a good idea.
There are a number of underlayment products to choose from when choosing an underlayment for laminate flooring, and it helps to know the features to look for.