Table of contents:
- Laminate is the all-rounder among floor coverings
- Use class provides orientation when buying
- Generously determine the material requirements
- Laying laminate: Prepare the surface
- Determine the laying direction of the laminate
- Laying laminate: Avoid damaging the click system
- Attach the skirting boards - and you're done
Video: Laying laminate: you have to consider that
Laying laminate is not difficult, because thanks to the click systems, laminate floors can now be installed quickly and easily by DIY enthusiasts. We will show you the right steps and give you an overview of the most important facts about laminate.
"Click". Anyone who has ever dedicated themselves to the “Laying Laminate” project knows about the rewarding noise that arises when the tongue clicks into the groove. Once the milled recess - the groove - with the appropriate projection - the tongue - had to be glued. This has not been the case for a long time. Nowadays, thanks to modern click systems, you can easily connect the individual laminate panels. What you need to pay attention to when buying and how to get a perfect result can be read in this step-by-step guide.
Laying laminate is worthwhile for do-it-yourselfers, because it is not only particularly inexpensive - compared to other floor coverings such as parquet. No, the material also has a whole range of positive properties. This is due to its different layers, which already indicates the name "laminate". Because it comes from the Latin word "Lamina", which means nothing else than "layer". The structure of the individual levels can certainly vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but it is often four layers that are responsible for the versatility of the floor.
The underside, which is also known as a counter-pull, is usually made of a synthetic resin, such as phenolic resin. It has the task of balancing tensions resulting from the layer structure and counteracting the penetration of moisture. Above that is the carrier layer, which makes up a good 90 percent of the structure. It consists of a particle board or fibreboard, the nature of which is decisive for the strength of the laminate. The decorative layer is the visible part. A photo-reproduced decor is printed on it, which usually has a wood look. Whether oak, beech, pine or mahogany: the range of laminate designs is wide. In theory, tile or marble decors can also be applied, but prints of this kind are more reserved for PVC floors (polyvinyl chloride). That makes sense, because after all, the laminate is largely a wooden floor. The decorative layer is protected from abrasion and UV light by the surface layer, which is often also referred to as an overlay. For example, heat-hardened melamine resin is used as the material.
Reading tip: Here you can find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of parquet, vinyl or laminate in a direct comparison.
It doesn't always have to be classic wood: the multitude of decors on the market is an unbeatable argument for laminate as flooring. So everyone can find a design according to their taste.
Photo: BAUHAUS AG / Logoclic
Laminate is the all-rounder among floor coverings
There are plenty of reasons to lay laminate on your own: Due to the large number of different decors, you have the opportunity to tailor the design to the style of your home. Added to this is the high resilience of the covering, which ensures that you will enjoy your laminate floor for many years. In terms of maintenance, too, the covering is one of the solutions that can be optimally maintained with little effort. In addition, laminate has a low installation height and can be installed in just a few steps. Last but not least, the natural wood look creates a cozy atmosphere, especially in living rooms.
Use class provides orientation when buying
You can often find a large selection of laminate floors in hardware stores. The question inevitably arises as to how the sometimes considerable price differences come about. Well, there are actually a number of differences in quality that are reflected in the price. For example, laminate is available in different thicknesses. Panel thicknesses from seven millimeters upwards are recommended as they have sufficiently stable tongues that are “clicked” into the groove.
A distinction must also be made with regard to the abrasion resistance, which can be recognized from the respective usage class. For private use, classes 21 to 23 offer orientation when purchasing. For areas with high demands on the floor - such as the living room or children's room - choose a higher usage class than for a storage room that is rarely used.
There are also differences in terms of appearance and feel. In the case of high-quality laminate floors, it is not just the appearance of a parquet floor that is deceptively imitated - structural embossments that mimic a grained wood surface even make it tangible. Another criterion that affects the price is an optional impact sound insulation. Since laminate as a hard floor covering has a high impact sound effect for the rooms below, floor coverings with already integrated impact sound are available. However, it is sometimes an advantage if you lay insulation material separately, because this way you can also compensate for slight unevenness in the floor.
Last but not least, some floors have extremely water-repellent properties that can make a difference. Even special wet room laminate floors for use in the bathroom are now on the market. How deep you reach into your pocket in the end depends to a large extent on the individual conditions on site and the loads that the floor covering should withstand.
Generously determine the material requirements
To calculate the need for laminate, measure the base of the room you want to improve with a yardstick. Go ahead generously and include at least five percent of the actual room area for the waste. The purchased packages of laminate should ideally be stored two days before the start of work in the room in which you lay the floor. In this way, the material has the possibility to adapt to the prevailing indoor climate. This prevents the risk of gaps forming and the appearance of unsightly bulges on the edges. You can easily determine how many meters of skirting boards you need by determining the length of the walls minus the doors.
Laying laminate: Prepare the surface
You can not only lay laminate on the screed, but also lay laminate on tiles without any problems. Before you start laying laminate, make sure that the surface is firm and level. This is certainly not an issue for new buildings, but it is important to take a closer look at buildings that are already getting old. Useful test equipment here is a spirit level and a straightedge, with which slight differences in height can already be detected on surfaces. If you measure bumps that are three to five centimeters, you should definitely compensate for them. The best thing to do is to obtain liquid leveling compounds from the hardware store, the drying time of which must be observed, or a dry fill, for example made of Perlite. Significant unevenness must be removed with the help of gypsum or coarse chipboard or OSB (Oriented Strand Board).
In addition, when preparing the substrate, you should definitely pay attention to the subject of insulation - more precisely, the aspects of thermal insulation, moisture barrier and impact sound insulation. The individual layers can sometimes be combined and thus bring with them several attributes. For example, waterproof thermal insulation also has a certain degree of impact sound insulation.
Impact sound, the compensation of unevenness, the penetration of moisture and cold - there are suitable insulating underlays for the laminate for all needs.
Photo: Selit Dämmtechnik GmbH
If the subsurface is flat, but is on the ground floor and has no thermal insulation, it is advisable to lay one first. With concrete floors, there is also a risk that moisture will rise and pull into the laminate. A so-called vapor barrier prevents this. When laying the barrier, you must make sure that the individual sheets overlap. You should also tape them together. As already mentioned, the topic of impact sound insulation should not be neglected. After all, what's the use of the most beautiful floor if the step of the heel echoes through the house at every step? An impact sound layer with a thickness of one to five millimeters helps. As a side effect, you can use insulation to compensate for slight unevenness in the surface.
Determine the laying direction of the laminate
Laminate is laid floating. This means that the individual planks are not connected to the subfloor. On the walls, it is essential to take into account expansion joints of a good ten millimeters so that the laminate has enough space to expand in the event of temperature fluctuations. Therefore, use spacer wedges that ensure the necessary joints and also fix the laminate to the side.
As far as the direction of installation is concerned, opinions differ: some say that the shape of the room is decisive, while others are primarily based on the incidence of light. In this way, the length of a room is emphasized if the laying direction runs along the length of the room. In the case of extremely narrow spaces, transversely laid laminate can lead to an optical broadening. In addition, the joints in the laminate should cast as little shade as possible and the floor covering should run lengthways to the incidence of light. Ultimately, your personal taste is decisive.
Laying laminate: Avoid damaging the click system
Start laying. There is usually waste at the end of the first row. Now you have to shorten the "last" plank accordingly, ie saw it off. Remember: The joints of the planks should "overlap" by about 30 to 40 centimeters in the following rows. If the sawn-off rest of the first row is only 15 centimeters, this is unfortunately unusable and you should use a “new” plank to start the next row. However, if the alleged waste measures 35 centimeters, you can continue working with it. After a few rows, you notice that a laying pattern is emerging, that is, the joints "move" step by step and evenly from row to row. That means: you are doing everything correctly!
When working, ensure that the tongue and groove always engage and that there are no joints between the boards. A gentle hammer blow on a piece of wood, which ensures an even distribution of the cutting force and protects the laminate panels, ensures seamless transitions should it get caught here and there. Attention: To avoid damaging the click system, never hit the tongue and groove directly.
If the rows are interrupted - for example by a heating pipe - the panel should be cut to the correct length and only then should the recess be drawn in and drilled. Then saw diagonally from the hole to the edge of the board. The expansion joints are covered later with a suitable rosette.
Remember to leave an expansion joint on the wall when laying the laminate. Here strips or wedges help as spacers.
Photo: iStock / tkhatsko
Attach the skirting boards - and you're done
If the entire room is covered with laminate, remove the spacer wedges, which created enough space for the expansion joints. Finally, attach the skirting boards, which you nail or screw onto the walls depending on the system. The strips should be at least 15 millimeters thick to cover the expansion joints on the walls. In the corners of the room, the "art" is to cut the sidebars exactly at an angle of 45 degrees. A miter saw or a miter gauge prove to be extremely helpful. After the work is done, you can of course walk on the laminate floor immediately.
One disadvantage: All laminate floors have the deficit that they cannot be sanded down if they are damaged or worn - as is the case with solid wood parquet. This precludes the structure described above with several layers. One advantage: Due to the floating installation, the floor covering can be removed relatively easily and, above all, without residue, which is a plus, not least in rented apartments. But that's just one of the reasons why laminate is one of the most popular flooring solutions.
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