Photo courtesy Armstrong Flooring

Laminate is the new hard wood

With a dizzying array of styles and patterns, laminate flooring has become the popular choice

Laminate flooring has come a long way since the early days of shiny-looking fake oak and maple products.

Today there are patterns and designs so realistic “you would never know whether it’s real wood or not,” said L.J. Boehm, account manager with Dannburg Floor Coverings, and a second-generation flooring expert in the family-owned and operated business.

Boehm says some laminate products now come with embossed textures that give the look of hand-scraped, distressed or wire-brushed wood, while having laminate’s advantage of being scratch resistant – great if you have kids or pets – affordable, and easy to install.

“Laminate is very do-it-yourself friendly. Although, we like to offer our professional installation services, for people who are looking to save a bit of money, it’s easy to install,” said Boehm, who shared the following advice for those who like to DIY these kinds of projects:

Buy your flooring

Packages of flooring indicate how much area they cover, so measure your space, then add at least 10 per cent for waste from trimming boards to fit. It’s also a great idea to have an extra box or two for any future damage to the floor, since styles and patterns come and go.

Prepare the subfloor

Some laminate products now come with embossed textures that give the look of hand-scraped, distressed or wire-brushed wood, while having laminate’s advantage of being scratch resistant.

Ensuring a level base on which to install the laminate allows it to perform to standard. Scrape or sand rough or bumpy areas and, if needed, use a liquid self-levelling product to fill low spots.

Install an underlayment

Some laminate has underlayment attached to each board, but if not, lay down a 3-in-1 underlayment product which provides a vapour barrier, cushioning, and sound insulation.

Begin installing the laminate

Start at one wall, along a line that is square to the rest of the room. Leave a gap of at least 3/8” along the wall, and all other walls, since laminate is a “floating” floor and can expand and contract. Baseboards will eventually cover the gaps.

Stagger the second row by starting with a half-length board, so that the seams do not all line up. Some laminate comes pre-fabricated with different length boards, but if that’s not your product, just cut a board in half. The latest click locking systems now allow you to build additional rows one board at a time, rather than requiring the entire length of a row to be lifted and locked into place at once. That has made it easier for one person to do an installation.

Deal with obstacles

Measure and cut boards to go around obstacles, such as hot air floor registers, but for door casings, undercut the casing so the laminate slips underneath, rather than trying to cut an intricate shape around the casing. Install transitions to cover the gap between laminate and other types of flooring.

Maintain your new floor

Once your laminate flooring is installed, it’s easy to maintain with regular sweeping and the occasional use of a laminate floor cleaning product.

For a more detailed procedure, please check the product instructions on the type of laminate flooring you purchased.

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