Thursday, March 17, 2016

Laminate Floor Lamentations.

Laminate floors are a boon to those who even have an inkling of D.I.Y.-ing. You don't have to be mechanically inclined, and you don't even need power tools. All you need to do is read a tape measure and use a laminate floor cutter. No dust or muss. The instructions are pretty simple on the package, but here are a few things I've learned. This is not a comprehensive instruction manual, and before you're done you will probably laugh at this post and wonder what planet this writer is on. No worries :)

UPDATE: If you want to solicit your company, don't even bother as comments are moderated. I will delete them before they even see the light of day.


  • If you have to use a saw, air compressor, or other power tools, wear eye AND hearing protection. Hearing damage is cumulative and eye damage can be in an instant; both can be irreversible. I still have problems with my left eye years after getting a chemical burn on my cornea. 
  • Hand protection against slivers and cuts is also a good idea. Nothing stops a new floor like a trip to the local emergency department. 
  • If practical, remove everything from the room you're working on. 
  • The foam, or rolled underlayment works best on a level floor. You will want to use 1/4 plywood on an uneven or patched subfloor. 
  • You can place this stuff over carpeting provided it's 1/4 inch or less pile. It will also go over linoleum, sheet vinyl, etc. 
  • To save the sanity of the person working on or installing a dishwasher or other appliance, this flooring MUST extend UNDER the appliance. If you've ever had to jockey a dishwasher over a 3/4 inch ridge of finished floor from under a granite counter-top, you know while I'm talking about. It's a pain in the ass and is probably against code in certain areas.  Refrigerators are not only inconvenient when trying to pull them out, but almost impossible over a ridge; these can weigh more than 500 pounds. The finish floor MUST go under ALL appliances; this is NOT an option if you want them worked on at a later date. 
  • Think about which direction the floor should go. I like going perpendicular to the main doorway in the room, or parallel to the lay of the rest of the floor in the house. 
  • There are many ways to put this type of floor in, but the seams need to be staggered. I measure the floor, minus 1/2 inch and divide it by finished length of your pieces, Then I cut a piece the length of the remainder, but the cut edge MUST go to the wall or the pieces won't lock together. I try and start with an uncut piece, then another until I go as far as I can, THEN cut the remainder. You will need to cut that same length on the opposite side and then start on the opposite end. 
  • Add spacers around the floor as you work and keep your weight on the section you've already laid. This will make life much easier. 
  • Lock the short seam 1/8 inch before bringing down to lock on the long seam, and then pull it towards you. Press each course down as you finish before starting the next one. 
  • A laminate cutter is a good idea when laying this stuff down as the dust a saw creates with this material can harm your lungs. It's much quieter and less fatiguing too. 
  • An oscillating tool is another helpful thing to have when notching trim and cutting out heat runs through the floor. It's safer than a saber saw and since the original inventor (Fien) patent ran out, these can be had for less than $100. I use a Dremel version of these and it works great; got it on Ebay for about $40. 
The best thing to do is buy the material and get to it. This is one project where it's fun to learn as you go. Maranatha!

2 comments:

Dale Burrell said...

I notice on building and DIY shows, they are using dust masks more and more. I know glues in manufactured wood products may not be safe. But they are using it for cutting normal wood.

Walter Grace said...

It isn't a bad idea to wear a dust mask or just use a laminate cutter. Less noise, no dust, no worries.