Laminate floors are a beautiful, durable alternative to hardwoods, lending a high-end look to just about any space in your home. Plus, recent advances in designs, materials and installation techniques make installing a laminate floor a great DIY project. The primary issue with laminates is that if they're not installed properly, they can wind up being a little noisy or “squeaky.” Fortunately, squeak or hollow-sounding floors are easy to avoid, as long as you follow a few simple installation tips from the pros:
1) Give your floor some breathing room: Laminate floor products are derived from porous materials just like hardwoods, and that means they're prone to expansion and contraction as the ambient temperature changes. When flooring is installed tightly, butting up against the edges of the room, there's no space for the floor to expand in response to temperature and humidity changes. As a result, floors can squeak and even buckle. The answer: Provide a narrow expansion gap – about 3/8” should be plenty – around the perimeter of the room to enable the floor to expand and contract without issue. The gap can be easily covered with molding so it's not even visible. You can make sure you leave just enough space by using small plastic spacers designed for flooring installation projects, and ideally sized to provide just the right amount of space all around the edges of the flooring.
2) Add an underlayment pad: Padding helps in a couple of ways. First, by providing a resilient cushion between the subfloor and the laminate floor material, it helps prolong the flooring's lifespan and improve its durability. Second, an underlayment deadens the sound of the flooring material, eliminating the hollow sound of flooring laid on a bare subfloor so your floor sounds just like a hardwood material. And, since underlayment is flexible and not rigid, it helps stabilize planks to eliminate squeaks and creaks as well.
3) Pay attention to thresholds and room transitions: When laminate flooring meets a different type of flooring or even laminate flooring laid in the opposite direction, an expansion gap is necessary at the point of transition - just as it is at the edges of a room - to allow for expansion and to avoid creaks and squeaks. The best way to make a transition from one type of flooring to another is with a transition strip. Transition strips are usually sold to match your flooring and its finish, and they can be easily installed just like the rest of your flooring. Plus, when transitioning from laminate to a thicker type of flooring, like plush carpeting, a transition strip also can eliminate potential tripping hazards.
Laminate flooring is an economical way to get the look of hardwood without the hassles that go along with hardwood flooring installation. Taking the time to plan out your job – including allowing for necessary expansion joints and choosing the right underlayment – can go a long way toward ensuring your finished floor feels and sounds as good as it looks.
We have a wide selection of laminate flooring in-stock, so you can take it home today to start your project.
About The Author
Karen has more than 20 years of experience as a professional writer and editor. During her career, Karen has written hundreds of articles, press releases, patient education materials, blog posts, ebooks, white papers and web content based on strong SEO techniques, and she has also served as a ghostwriter on books covering a wide range of medical and healthcare topics.