Laminate Flooring Advice & Tips
The construction makes it a solid, stable and attractive choice for use in practically any area of the home. Image Flooring has a vast selection from top suppliers. Whether you are looking for a wooden floor for your home or for your business, we can cater to your needs.
Laminate flooring is made up of layers sandwiched together to create a solid, hard wearing, stable board. The very bottom layer is a tough moisture resistant material, which gives the board strength and stability.
The main bulk of the board is HDF (High Density Fibreboard) this layer is machined to create the fitting system that allows the flooring to be clicked together. Click laminate and loc laminate are more frequently used for modern floorings rather than tongue and groove due to ease of fitting.
The next layer is the decorative layer, known as the photo. The Photo is a high-resolution image of natural wood flooring to give the flooring a realistic appearance.
The final layer is the wear layer. This is highly scratch and dent resistant, normally made with aluminium oxide. Aluminium oxide has a rating of 9 on the mohs hardness scale, so provides the finished product with a surface that can withstand the rigours of day to day wear.
Underfloor heating is no longer an expensive luxury and advances in technology now mean that it can be a wonderful addition to any room. Because modern underfloor heating systems emit a gentle radiant heat over the whole area of the room, they are suitable for use with many laminate floorings, making your floor practical as well as beautiful. This type of heat distribution is very comfortable as there are no hot spots in the room.
Which Underfloor Heating to Choose
There are many heating systems on the market, and it can be difficult to choose which one is best for you. A highly recommended system is The Ecofilm system. It can be used as a primary heat source in a well-insulated room, and comes with a 10-year guarantee against manufacturing defects. The heating is connected to a timer thermostat, which offers full flexibility and control.
It is very easy to lay underfloor heating under laminate flooring or engineered wood floor. The subfloor should be nice and even. A layer of insulation designed for use with heated wood floors should be laid. This will minimise heat loss, act as a sound deadener and support your floor like a traditional underlay. Then you can lay your heating elements. These can be fitted very easily as they are normally just rolled out onto the floor. You should take care not to overlap the elements at this point. After laying a vapour barrier, you are ready to put the floor of your choice down; this is laid in the normal way. Then all that is left for you to do is to have the thermostat connected.
How To Measure Your Floor
The majority of floor manufacturers as well as fitters recommend a minimum of 5% wastage when ordering a wood floor, this will hopefully allow for those small mistakes and complicated cuts. Sometimes on occasions there are small pieces that cannot be used anywhere without spoiling the look of the floor.
Allowing for waste is a very important part of the planning process of buying a wooden floor. Too few packs can mean
a wait for extra supplies to arrive; too many may result in wasted packs that are never used.
There will always be a certain amount of wastage when fitting wood flooring, awkward shapes, mistakes, pattern and
fitting guidelines will all result in parts that are unusable and so end up being disposed of.
A good amount to allow for waste is around 5%. This should give you enough leeway to get the finish you require,
without too much left over at the end of the job.
Once you have chosen the direction you want the wood floor to run you need to decide where to start.
Setting out from the angled wall will mean the floor looks out of square with the rest of the room and will not look straight as you enter the room.
It is important to pick a wall that is at right angles to the rooms’ entrance. This will ensure you see a nice straight floor as you enter the room.
Make sure your wood flooring is laid in a random fashion. Your floor should look as natural as possible. Ensure your header joints are not to close together and are randomly spaced.
Don’t fit your header joints to close together. Placing your header joints too close together doesn’t look good and can weaken your floor.
It is important to decide which direction to lay your new wood flooring. There is no fixed rule, but Laying the boards long ways away from you as you enter the room, In general looks the most appealing.
When fitting an engineered or solid wood floor always work from several packs at once. This will ensure your floor has an even shading across the whole area.
Remember each pack may be slightly darker or lighter than another as real wood is a natural product with shade variation.
Before you begin
There are a few things you should check before you start to lay your laminate flooring.
- Do you have enough flooring? Did you allow extra for cuts and waste?
- Do you have all of your tools ready? Saw, Fitting wedges, pencil, tape measure etc.
- Check the materials for any small problems, it is much easier to rectify these before the floor is laid.
- Is the sub floor ok? A level and clean floor will be much easier to lay your flooring onto
1. Once you are happy that you have everything and there are no problems, you can put your wood floor underlay down on the floor. Mostly the underlay will just be rolled out or laid out onto the floor before your laminate. If your sub floor is concrete, you should have a membrane or an underlay with a membrane built in, this should be taped or overlapped according to manufacturers instructions to create a moisture resistant barrier.
Where to start
The best direction to lay laminate flooring is in the direction of a light source such as a window as the light streaming into the room really picks up the shine and beauty of the floor. It is best to start against a wall and then work your way across the room. This gives you a stable starting point.
Laying the planks
2. Laminate floorings will all have little differences between the manufacturers, so it is best to read and follow the instructions in the pack, but as a general rule, you will start out by putting your first plank against the wall with some fitting wedges to keep the distance uniform.
3. You then continue the row, by locking or clicking the planks into each other.
4. If you had to cut the last plank of the row, if it is longer than 30cm, then you can use it to start the next row. The boards should be staggered so this is an ideal way to start the next row off.
5. Continue in this way until you have covered the whole floor.
6. The last row may be a little bit trickier to do, but if you measure it well, it should just be a case of easing the final cuts into place.
Now you can put your trims and threshold strips on to finish the flooring off. Skirtings or scotia can be pinned or glued into place. They should be glued to the wall and not the floor. This allows the flooring to expand and contract underneath.
Your thresholds will often have a base plate that is screwed or stuck down. With a strip that presses down into it. This will take up any height differences between rooms and ensure that the flooring is not damaged.
- Laminate flooring has a very tough top layer. This will dull saw blades very quickly,so make sure you have spares.
- If using a jigsaw, cut the laminate decorative side down to reduce chipping.
- Kneeling on the edge of a loose piece of laminate hurts! Make sure you protect your knees with kneepads.
- Don’t rush, take your time. Once the first couple of rows are in place, you will really get into the swing of it and your floor will seem to go down in no time!
Choosing the correct cleaner for your wooden floor is very important. The wrong cleaner can leave your floor looking dull and smeared or even cause damage! Be wary of “all in one” cleaners as these are not tailored to your floors needs, and may leave wax and polish residues on the floor surface. Your flooring may look good in the short term, but over time, this build up will dull your floor.
Cleaning Laminate Floors
Laminate flooring is remarkably easy to clean. First sweep or vacuum up any dust, then dampen a floor cloth or microfibre mop with an appropriate cleaner. The key is to make your mop damp, but not wet, as too much moisture over time can cause swelling. A good mopping method is to run the mop in the direction the laminate is laid. The cleaner should evaporate quickly, leaving a clean, streak free finish.
The Quick Step Flooring Cleaning Kit is absolutely ideal for this job as it contains a mop specifically designed with laminate floor in mind and a spray bottle of cleaning fluid. The spray bottle means that you can deliver the correct amount of liquid without saturating your floor delivering perfect results.
Lacquered Wood Flooring Cleaners
Lacquered wood flooring is cleaned in a very similar way to Laminate flooring. Any dust should be swept up with a soft broom or carefully Vacuumed up first. Then the floor should be damp mopped using a suitable cleaner. Wood flooring is a natural product, so a cleaner containing natural soap is ideal, such as Osmo Wash and Care.
Osmo Wash and Care does not contain harsh chemicals, and doesn’t leave streaks or residues. Simply mix one capful in a litre of water, and use to moisten your cloth or mop before wiping over the area to be cleaned.
Oiled Wood Flooring Cleaners
Oiled wood flooring can be cleaned in much the same way as lacquered wood, but care should be taken to ensure that the cleaner you choose is suited to an oiled floor. Some cleaners that are suitable for other wood flooring finishes may not be right for an oiled finish. Osmo Wash and Care is ideal for this type of cleaning, as it is a gentle natural cleaning fluid. Mix one capful in a litre of water, and use to moisten your cloth or mop before wiping over the area tobe cleaned. Oiled wood floors should only be damp mopped to ensure there is no swelling of the wood.
Once your wooden floor has been laid, you will want to make sure you look after it correctly so you can enjoy its beauty and warmth for many years to come. There are products designed to do just that, keeping your new floor in the very best condition.
The best way to start looking after your laminate flooring or solid / engineered wood flooring is to prevent damage occurring in the first place. Mats at external doors are essential as these will help to remove small stones and grit from shoes that could cause scratching. All of our floors have hard wearing coatings to assist in preventing this kind of damage, but making sure mats are in place will really help keep your floor in perfect condition.
Felt pads and caster cups on furniture will also reduce the chances of damage by covering up any imperfections that may scratch or damage the floor surface.
Making sure that any spillages are cleaned up quickly will also help extend the life of your floor as if left to sit, a spill could work it’s way into the joints and cause swelling. You can use a moisture protection product called Clicseal when fitting the floor in any areas that might cause concern such as around sinks. This is a clear sealant that is squeezed into the joints during installation. It provides moisture resistance, but does not glue the joints, allowing boards to be taken back up without damage if needed.
When cleaning laminate flooring it is important to use the correct product. Cleaners with waxes and polishes in, may be ideal for other areas of the home, but may cause damage to laminate flooring or leave residues that will make the floor appear dull. A soft broom and a mop or cloth dampened with a laminate flooring cleaner should be all you need to maintain your floor. For heavier marks such as pen or shoe scuffs Quick-step Force can be used to effortlessly wipe them away.
Oiled Wood Floors
Oiled wood floors require periodic oiling to keep the floor in good condition. The oil penetrates deep into the wood surface creating a tough barrier that will repel dirt, moisture and dust. The Osmo Polyx Oils we have available at Green Apple Flooring are very simple to use, and all you need do is apply a thin coating on a clean, dust free floor. This will re-vitalise it and top up the oil’s natural defences. If there is any staining or marks, these can be removed during the maintenance by lightly sanding them out before applying the fresh coat of oil.
Lacquered Wood Floors
As lacquered wood floors do not require periodic treating, maintenance is relatively simple. A soft broom and a suitable everyday cleaner are essential. Dried stains on a lacquered floor may require sanding if they have soaked right in, but this takes time, so it is best to work on stains and spills as quickly as possible.
If you maintain your floor well, you should not find yourself in a situation where you need to perform repairs. Mats placed at external doors and felt pads on your furniture will protect your floor and extend the life of it. But accidents do happen. If you do need to do any repairs, there are often simple solutions to make your floor look as good as new again.
Laminate flooring has a very tough top layer that should prevent most scratches and staining. If you wish to repair a scratch on a laminate floor, Green Apple sells an ingenious repair kit from Quick-step Flooring called Quick Step Mix & Fix. This kit contains repair paste, a spatula and two bottles of pigment to allow you to get the perfect colour to match your floor.
Sometimes damage can be more severe. If, for example, a heavy item of furniture has been dragged across the floor and left deeper scratches. Because laminate flooring is so simple to lay, it would be very easy to take part of the floor up and replace damaged boards if required.
Lacquered Wood Flooring
A small amount of wear can really add to the character of a lacquered floor, giving it an aged look that can be beautiful in itself, but if you wish to disguise small scratches, this can be achieved using wood coloured putty. For larger areas of damage the floor surface can be sanded back and re-finished giving the whole area a new lease of life. This should only need to be done rarely, but should be undertaken by a professional to get a perfect finish.
Small dents can sometimes be taken care of by covering with a dampened cloth and pressing with an electric iron to draw the fibres up, but this should be done with caution.
Oiled Wood Flooring
Oiled wood flooring is very easy to repair as day-to-day damage is normally taken care of during the periodic oiling with a product such as Osmo Polyx Oil. However, if an area is particularly worn or stained, it can be lightly sanded back to remove the damage before re-oiling to refresh the board. The repaired board will blend in nicely with the surrounding floor.
In order to have years of satisfaction from your chosen laminate or wooden floor please take time to read the information below.
Read the manufacturer’s fitting and cleaning instructions
Failure to comply with manufacturers instructions may invalidate your guarantee.
Seek professional advice regarding your flooring
Image Flooring provides the information shown below only as a guide. We are knowledgeable about the product and its basic installation. If you have any concerns or need reassurance it is important that you seek the advice of a qualified professional (please note a carpenter does not necessarily know how to install wood floors).
Ensure you order the correct amount of wood flooring
Under ordering may result in shade difference when you order your shortfall. For more information, view our How to Measure Your Floor Guide.
All wood floors (inc. laminates) can mark
It is important to remember that all floors mark dependant on use and situation. Laminate flooring offer the most resistance to scratching having a special top layer protecting the wood effect paper.
Real wood flooring including all veneers are much easier to mark; different types of wood are stronger than others. Scratches will occur, denting or bruising of real wood floors is much easier than a laminate.
Treat your real wood floor, as a piece of furniture and it will give you years of good service.
With all floors fit coasters, felt pads etc. to all furniture. Do not drag any furniture. Take care to ensure footwear is clean and free from grit. In the case of a real wood floor avoid high heels as these may pit the surface. The use of indoor and outdoor matting is recommended.
Regular sweeping and vacuuming will remove potentially abrasive grit.
All flooring can vary in shade
Laminates are a photograph of wood and may shade from batch to batch. Real woods (inc. veneers) are a natural product and will shade.
The sample does not guarantee the final shade and appearance of your product.
If you require guaranteed consistence of shade, knotting (including the colour of knot filler) and texture do not pick a natural product. Every tree is different.
All natural products will change colour with age and exposure to ultra violet rays. Depending on wood species this can be lighter or darker.
Gapping occurs with wood floors according to the season
Expansion occurs as real wood gains moisture and shrinkage as it loses moisture, gaps will open and close with the cycle of seasons. Knots in the timber may lose their filler, this is normal. Real wood is a natural product and is affected by its surroundings.
Acclimatisation is required for wooden floors
Make sure your wooden floor has time to acclimatise to the room temperature, consult manufacturers literature for recommended time.
Cold floors will expand when heated.
Room humidity needs to be checked
Make sure all walls and sub floor are completely dry.
Moisture in the air will be absorbed by your floor, causing excessive expansion. If in doubt use a Damp Meter to check for excessive moisture, as this may affect your guarantee. Keep note of any readings as these may be needed should any problems arise.
Outside / Inside inspection is recommended
Inspections before installing a new wood floor are advised to ensure air bricks are free from blockage and damp courses are in good order. Ensure all plastering, tiling, painting and screeding has had time to dry out. In the case of kitchens all appliances should be checked for leaks.
The subfloor must be completely flat
It is very, very important that your floor is completely flat (+/- 5mm over 2m)
A bumpy floor will still remain a bumpy floor. Do not rely on underlay to iron out bumps; this is not its purpose. You may feel that immediately after your installation you have successfully hidden the bump or hollow. However once the floor starts to settle the bump or hollow will reappear.
Use the correct tools fitting your floor
Please use the correct tools.
Most laminate floors are installed with the click system method, which do not require glue. They are installed by either tapping together or clicking together.
It is very easy to damage your floor by not using appropriate knocking blocks, pulling bars and in the case of glue systems, the correct clamps.
A damp proof membrane maybe required
It is important that no moisture can rise up from the subfloor.
All concrete screeded floors should have a damp proof membrane, use a vapour barrier to seal joins in underlay.
Please remember even if you have vinyl tiles or something similar covering your concrete floor be 100%certain and fit a damp proof membrane. Real wood nailed to an existing wooden floor should also have a moisture vapour barrier such as ‘building paper’.
The correct underlays and floor adhesives need to be used
It is very important the correct wood flooring underlay or wood flooring adhesive is used. The wrong adhesive could cause the floor to fail, not following the adhesives guidelines for floor preparation and priming may also cause a failure.
All floors require an expansion joint
All floors expand. Leave expansion joint as per manufacturers instructions.
Remember make sure you leave expansion everywhere including doorways, radiator pipes etc.
Underfloor heating can only be used with certain products
Is only recommended with certain products, guidelines and instructions must be followed. When heating is switched off over long periods expect a wider range of seasonal movement.
Ensure you don’t install a faulty product
Please take care that you do not fit chipped, scratched or faulty material.
Once installed the manufacturer does not have to replace the product.
In all cases the manufacturer limits his liability to the replacement of product and does not include any labour costs.
Oiled floors require regular re-oiling
Flooring sold as an oiled product must be re-oiled once installed before the floor receives any use, such as Osmo Polyx Oil. This may be between 1 and 3 coats dependent on the manufacturers guidelines.
Regular re-oiling will be required to ensure the longevity and performance of your floor, again please refer to the manufacturers guidelines.
Take care when cleaning your floor
All real wood and laminate products need great care when cleaning. In all cases consult the manufacturers cleaning guidelines before cleaning your new floor.
Too much water is not a good thing
No wood floors (with exception of some laminates) like water. The less the better.
A floor’s weak point is the joints. Water penetration will cause bubbling to the edges and could ultimately lead to floor failure. Any spillage should be mopped up immediately.
Please note: The above is offered as information and guidance only. It is not intended to replace in any way the manufactures instructions for use or installation. We do not accept any liability for failure to follow the manufacturers instructions.
It often makes sense to lay the floor following the longest wall, this is nearly always the best choice in a narrow hall.
In general if it looks and feels right for you, that’s the way to lay your floor. Lay several boards out on the floor first, one way then the other. Look at the floor from where you enter the room, or where you will be sitting in the room.