Laminate flooring is a popular flooring option because of its attractiveness, durability, scratch resistance and, most importantly, its ease of installation. Laminates can be laid down on almost all subfloors with minimal preparations, which is why many homeowners tackle its installation as a DIY project. But, when it comes to concrete subfloors, excessive moisture is a definite concern. There are many factors to consider in order to install laminate flooring properly on a concrete subfloor. If you efficiently manage all these criteria, you can rest assured that your floor installation will be completed perfectly.
Here’s a guide to installing laminate flooring over concrete to get great-looking floors that last for years.
The Process of Installing Laminate Flooring on Concrete
The installation process will vary according to the type of laminate planks and tiles you choose. They can be floated on the subfloor, for instance, if they have a click-lock system. Here are a few things you will need for the installation:
- Floorboards: Buy 10% more square footage of floorboards than is necessary to ensure you have enough in stock in case of wastage.
- Underlayment: The underlayment should be chosen keeping in mind the installation method as well as the room’s subfloor.
- Tools and accessories: Saws, rubber mallets, tape measures and pencils are basic tools you will need on hand, even if you are hiring professionals for the installation.
- Adhesives and nails: Whether you need adhesives specifically designed for laminate flooring installation or nails depends on the installation method you choose.
If you have tongue and groove planks, all you need is a rubber mallet and proper underlayment. The laminate boards have to be placed and click-locked with each other starting from any corner. You may need to cut and shape the planks near the edges of the room for better support.
- Start installing laminate flooring by matching their tongue with the groove. Apply firm pressure when pushing the planks together.
- During installation, make sure you leave an expansion gap of 1/4″ on all sides. Here’s a tutorial on how to install laminate flooring.
- Read through the manufacturer’s recommendations before starting the installation process.
- Make sure that your concrete subfloors are in perfect condition in order to get flawless laminate floors.
- Remember that concrete slabs are not immune to moisture. Take all necessary precautions to ensure a smooth installation.
Before starting this step, prepare the subfloor and lay the underlayment carefully.
Preparing the Subfloor
The first thing to consider before installation is preparing the subfloor.
- If the concrete slab is new, you should give it at least 30 days to cure before installing any type of flooring. If the concrete slab is already installed, then three things should be checked as part of the pre-installation process: dryness, level and cleanliness.
- Make sure that the subfloor is free of dust, debris and other unwanted elements.
- The surface should be smooth and level. (Use a long level to measure it; any variance over 3/16th of an inch every 10 feet is not good.) Any roughness on the subfloor can create installation problems. Use a concrete grinder if you feel that the subfloor needs finishing.
Choosing the Right Laminate Underlay
The underlay should be chosen according to the subfloor. In the case of concrete, the following are criteria and types of underlay you must consider:
Challenges posed by concrete subfloors
- Porous material and prone to moisture fluctuation
- Adhesives loosen when moisture seeps through
- Without the right underlayment, tiles and planks can warp from underneath
- Often has bumps and creaks that lead to uneven installation
- Foam barrier: This is suitable so long as an additional vapour barrier is used.
- Vinyl backed: This also provides noise cancellation and moisture proofing, provided the seams are thoroughly sealed.
- Cork: Among the most expensive underlayment, it is primarily suitable for noise reduction.
You can also check this blog by our experts which discusses in detail the best underlayment for laminate flooring over concrete subfloor.
Placing the Moisture Barrier
The next thing to consider is moisture. The subfloor should be dry or else it can damage laminate planks.
- Many homeowners think concrete is a hard material that moisture can’t penetrate. The truth is that moisture vapour can easily pass through the concrete slab and cause declamation and warping of the laminate flooring.
- To deal with this problem, use a moisture meter and check the humidity. If the reading is more than or equal to 4.5%, it is unsafe to install flooring.
- If your subfloor passes the moisture test, then place the laminate flooring in the room where it is to be installed and leave it for three days to acclimatize.
- Begin installation by laying a plastic vapour barrier (minimum 6 mm thick) or any other manufacturer-recommended barrier on the concrete subfloor to prevent moisture from reaching the laminate flooring. Use vinyl tape to secure the barrier and keep it from coming out.
- If you want to build comfortable floors, add a layer of laminate padding on top of the vapour barrier. Since concrete is extremely hard, it can feel uncomfortable to walk on the floors if it lacks padding.
- If you are not sure you can install laminate flooring perfectly, let a professional flooring installer handle it.
Few Questions People Often Ask About Laminate Flooring
What are the best cleaning products for laminate flooring?
Laminates can be cleaned with a damp mop or by vacuuming and using floor cleaners specifically designed for wood and laminates.
- Damp mop occasionally followed by drying the floor using a soft and dry microfiber cloth.
- Blot excess liquids and spills with tissue paper and other absorbent materials. Make sure they do not sit on the floor for too long.
- Avoid waxing, polishing, steam cleaning or scrubbing the floor with steel wool.
Where can I install laminates?
Laminates are extremely versatile flooring materials and can be used almost everywhere.
However, since laminates are made from compressed wood, avoid installing them in areas with high humidity and a good chance of getting wet, like bathrooms, porches, saunas and verandas.
Why choose laminate?
Laminate is affordable, sturdy, has a lot of variety and looks great, making it a popular choice.
Many homeowners prefer laminate because it looks and feels like hardwood at a much more affordable price. Moreover, the installation is very straightforward and DIY-friendly if you choose click lock flooring planks.
What are the health benefits of laminate?
Laminate flooring is a healthy choice for homeowners with dust allergies and who have trouble with VOCs and PVC.
Laminate flooring is made of wood shavings and compressed plywood; these materials are not toxic and do not emit VOCs. It is a great choice if you have pets and/or children.
Is laminate flooring affected by climate?
Since laminate flooring is made from wood particles and plyboards, it is susceptible to climate.
You should give the laminate flooring time to acclimatize before you are start the installation. Also, a sufficient expansion gap should be allowed so that it does not crack or warp.
Laminate flooring is very versatile but installing it on concrete can be tricky. However, if you are well acquainted with underlayment and moisture barriers that can be used along with laminate, a perfect installation is possible.