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Old 04-12-2006, 10:51 AM   #1
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Laminate Flooring - Newbie


Hi there. We're in the Vancouver area of BC and looking to install approx 800 sq/ft of laminate on the upper floor of our home (kitchen, dining room, living room & hallway) and I'm doing research prior to purchasing the materials. Can you please give your advice & opinion on the following;

* Board thickness - I imagine that the thicker the board the better the quality, but is there a difference in how a 7mm vs 8mm board will wear?

* I've been told by one supplier that boards are available from European & Chinese manufacturers (green core?), and the prices & warranty for each are comparable. Is one better or more desireable than the other?

* Underlay (barrier/foam) - seeing as we have living space on the lower level of the house we're considering using the soundproofing underlay (barrier/foam). I've been quoted .10 cents/ft for the thin stuff, and .45/ft for the soundproofing stuff (prices are Canadian). Does this pricing sound reasonable and would it likely be worth the investment to soundproof?

To do the laminate in the areas I've mentioned we'll be pulling up carpet from the hall & living room, parquet floor from the dining room, & tiles from the kitchen (plywood beneath all). Any tricks, aside from elbow grease, to remove the parquet & the tiles? We've got a few loose tiles in the kitchen so there's a place to start, but getting the grout out may be tough.

Since we're taking out the carpet that leaves the question of what to do with the stairs, which are currently carpeted. I think I'd like to laminate them (for continuity) and then maybe do a runner down them to reduce the danger of slipping. I did a quick search of the message board for how to laminate stairs and it seems straightforward, aside from the issue of the nose, which from what I gather needs to be built up or cut off? Is there anything else to consider when doing the stairs?

Do I have the following installation steps right?

* Pull up the current carpet/tiles, grout, staples & whatnot
* Level floor (planning to screw down the floor due to squeaks!)
* Lay the barrier/foam (staple it down?)
* Lay the floor, floating 1/4" from the wall
* Use "transitions" at doorways & also between rooms

Any and all input is welcome. Thank you!

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Old 04-12-2006, 12:25 PM   #2
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I take it you're using glueless laminate? Essentially a 'floating floor'.

I used that material in the nursery that I remodeled and it works GREAT. As far as thickness, warantee and relating that to wear of the boards, I can't really speak to that, as the guy at the store basically took a board, layed it on the floor, and PITCHED HIS CAR KEYS baseball style directly into it. No scratches, no dents, NOTHING. I was impressed and sold. I'm not sure exactly what you're using and how it relates to the brand of flooring I purchased, but mine was a metal/wood composite.

As far as the underlayment goes..... i'm not sure what they mean by 'soundproofing'. The only purpose of the underlayment is to prevent the bottom of the boards from CLICKING against nailheads, screwheads or anything else hard on the subfloor. The stuff I got came in rolls of 100sqft (5x20 IIRC) and i think it was pretty cheap maybe 5 or 6 bucks, and I only needed about one and a half to do a bedroom.

DO NOT STAPLE DOWN THE BARRIER. This eliminates its purpose altogether as your flooring will now click against the staples when you walk on it :D :D :D

The salesman I talked to said there was really no need to pull up old tile (carpet yes) but you can lay this stuff right on top of tile and linoleum. If you're set on pulling up the tile, you really don't need to 'LEVEL' the floor like you would with linoleum or even carpet with thin padding... Just get rid of most of the grout as best you can, and the floor will hold itself together pretty well, and do the levelling on its own.

If you LEAVE the tile, your advantage is that when you move, you can pull that part of the floor up and take it with you. The downside is that since you're pulling the carpeting too, the two rooms won't be precisely level with one another. A step up or down, the thickness of the tile.

tape all cut lines !!!!!! Keeps the finished surface from chipping a lot. It still might chip a little depending on the blade you use, but all cut edges should go against walls anyway, and baseboard will cover it.

Good luck

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Old 04-12-2006, 01:12 PM   #3
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Yes, glueless. No vendor has even mentioned the word glue.

Thanks for the tip on not stapling down the barrier. I thought the barrier (thick or thin) was about soundproofing between the levels of the house, not about deadening the noise between the boards & the sub-floor.

Any idea how far apart I should space the screws to silence the sub-floor?
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Old 04-12-2006, 01:41 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trishl
Yes, glueless. No vendor has even mentioned the word glue.

Thanks for the tip on not stapling down the barrier. I thought the barrier (thick or thin) was about soundproofing between the levels of the house, not about deadening the noise between the boards & the sub-floor.

Any idea how far apart I should space the screws to silence the sub-floor?
When I did mine, i had to add 7/16 plywood ON TOP of old hardwood flooring (that was destroyed by the way) in order to make the floor level with the hallway. Don't ask me why, I am clueless.

Anyway..... when we nailed down the plywood we didn't use screws, we used ringshank nails probably 2 " long and spaced them about every 8-12 inches. I'm not sure if thats overkill, but it certainly has held itself down that way. If you're just trying to fix something thats already there, screws may end up working out better for you.

As far as soundproofing between the levels on the house...... you may want to consider the thicker barrier, since your carpet had padding inbetween, that helped. You may want to give it a try, if you can buy the thin padding in a small roll, lay it down, put some flooring on it, and have someone stand downstairs while you walk on it. If it isn't quiet enough, roll it back up, stick it in the bag and return it and get the thicker padding. My laminate is on the ground floor so i'm not really sure what kind of noise issues this presents for the bugs that live beneath me :p
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Old 04-12-2006, 01:45 PM   #5
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Laminate Flooring - Newbie


Laminate flooring has taken the country by storm in the past ten years but not without its share of problems. Perstop's PERGO started it all and in a matter of two years there were hundreds of knock-offs. Ten years ago PERGO was a laminate fused to particalboard and it came here bragging of seventeen years of success in Europe. As it turned out this may not have been true and all kinds of problems reared up with the product right away.

Competitors then began trying to salvage the market by spending nickles to solve dollar problems. Finally the core was reformulated and in some cases it was turned into plastic. At the same time to make the laminate flooring products more suitable for the DIY market they did away with the need to glue the flooring slats together and they developed a "click" (snap) method of assembly. In addition the products were failing at such a large rate that they then increased the warrantees to make the revised products more desireable to the cinsumer.

Complaints of water intolerance (in the seams) have gone away for the most part with the higher-priced products. Scratching and denting can still be an issue with some of the products. The wear surface that started out with an aluminum oxide coating raised complaints of wearing-out kids socks (prematurely) that would use the smooth flooring for an ice-rink type playground. Different types of soundproofing materials have been tried to eliminate the inherent sound that occurs when the floor is walked on and sounds that can be transmitted from story to story.

If a foam soundproofing material is installed correctly the boards WILL NOT 'click' when the staples are contacted because the staples won't be in range of the boards. There were at one time cork sound-deadening materials that were to be glued to the substraight to eliminate the need for fasteners.

All in all you get what you pay for when buying laminate flooring goods. All of the above is my first-hand experience with these products and you can take it for what it's worth in your opinion. If it were me I personally wouldn't use any of the products but that's just me. Some of the products perform as advertised, some don't. You should stay with the mainstream manufacturers and stay away from the no-name products. Some of the more reputable names in laminate flooring are names like Pergo, Wilsonart, Formica, Mannington, Nevamar, etc.

My advice would be to seek-out a few existing installations and go see them first-hand. Walk on them with hard soles and see what you think. Get the flooring in the right light and look for peaking seams and swollen end-joints.

Check it out first, it's a big investment.

The stairs are an entirely different animal and in my thinking if you try to laminate the stairs you will never be happy with the finished product. In thinking about the stairs you should also consider the high costs of the necessary products to do the stair-nosings and how the stair-ends (if any) will be addressed.

Good luck.

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Old 04-12-2006, 01:50 PM   #6
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I personally love my laminate floor, but I definitely agree with all of the above other than that. It certainly is an investment for your 800sqft project. I used mine in a 10x12 room and it was only about 200 bucks.

DEFINITELY if you can, go look at some installed product and see what you think.

Good advice above.
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Old 04-12-2006, 02:51 PM   #7
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I'll also share this information, it is something I learned the hard-way years ago.

With laminate flooring it is recommended that a 1/4" perimeter-gap be allowed at all walls throughout the entire installation. This gap is to allow the flooring product to expand as necessary. The door openings are to be 'undercut' so that the flooring simply slides under the door jambs and casings. The baseboards then cover the 1/4" perimeter-gap trapping the flooring material in place.

OK, so-far-so-good.

The problem will come over time in that there is nothing (I mean nothing) holding this floor in place with the exception of gravity. The constant moving up and down when you walk on the floor and when you turn corners will cause the floor to move. It will move in a twisting-fashion but only milimeters at a time usually. The problem with this movement is that with the 1/4" expansion-gap this gap offers the floor an opportunity to twist. The whole room will twist unnoticeably. With todays narrow baseboard materials that are sometimes as thin as 3/8" the edge of the floor can creep out from under the baseboard and become exposed and a gap will appear between the baseboard and the flooring edge. Trust me!

The solution to this problem is to use some "gobs" of silicone caulk and install daubs of silicone about every four to six feet along the edge of the flooring seperating the flooring from the walls and holding the flooring in-check. I use gobs that are about one inch long being careful not to allow the silicone to come over the surface of the laminate and not to interfere with the installation of the baseboard.

I realize "gobs" aren't all that scientific but the plan works.
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Old 04-12-2006, 05:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bud Cline
I'll also share this information, it is something I learned the hard-way years ago.

With laminate flooring it is recommended that a 1/4" perimeter-gap be allowed at all walls throughout the entire installation. This gap is to allow the flooring product to expand as necessary. The door openings are to be 'undercut' so that the flooring simply slides under the door jambs and casings. The baseboards then cover the 1/4" perimeter-gap trapping the flooring material in place.

OK, so-far-so-good.

The problem will come over time in that there is nothing (I mean nothing) holding this floor in place with the exception of gravity. The constant moving up and down when you walk on the floor and when you turn corners will cause the floor to move. It will move in a twisting-fashion but only milimeters at a time usually. The problem with this movement is that with the 1/4" expansion-gap this gap offers the floor an opportunity to twist. The whole room will twist unnoticeably. With todays narrow baseboard materials that are sometimes as thin as 3/8" the edge of the floor can creep out from under the baseboard and become exposed and a gap will appear between the baseboard and the flooring edge. Trust me!

The solution to this problem is to use some "gobs" of silicone caulk and install daubs of silicone about every four to six feet along the edge of the flooring seperating the flooring from the walls and holding the flooring in-check. I use gobs that are about one inch long being careful not to allow the silicone to come over the surface of the laminate and not to interfere with the installation of the baseboard.

I realize "gobs" aren't all that scientific but the plan works.
I figure that I MOSTLY solved this problem by undercutting the sheetrock like you would a door jamb. Obviously its nearly impossible to get it all the way under, but i was able to do well enough that I think if the floor moves, by the time it touches the actual sole plate of the stud wall it won't have come out from under the baseboard. So far so good. :D
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Old 04-17-2006, 03:56 PM   #9
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"So-far-so-good".........as long as there is plenty of room for movement from expansion and contraction. In some cases if the product finds itself 'jamb-up' in a couple of places it could then buckle-up in spots.

By caulking the perimeter (here and there) the floor stays where you put it and it can still expand and contract without twisting or buckling.

Most of the laminates core-products today are fairly stable but direct sunlight does have the ability to raise hell with them from time to time.
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Old 04-21-2006, 11:20 PM   #10
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You could also add quarter round on the baseboards after laying the laminate thus giving extra thickness on top and preventing any gaps.

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