1) What is laminate flooring?
The beauty of laminate flooring is more than just skin deep. Laminates are composed of 4 main parts, the wear layer, decorative paper, core layer, and the stabilizing layer (backing layer). The wear layer is provided by a melamine resin which is highly wear resistant and scratch resistant. The decorative paper gives the laminate a high definition wood or tile look. The core layer is made of High Density Fiberboard or Medium Density Fiberboard. The stabilizing layer is the bottom layer of the laminate and it helps provide stability and moisture resistance. The texture is added to the wear layer through a process called “embossing”, which involves pressing patterns into the surface. The best quality laminates use a process called “embossing in register”, where the textured pattern actually follows the grain in the image, creating an even more realistic looks and feels.
2) What is an underlayment?
The term “underlayment” refers to any roll or sheet product designed to be installed between the sub-floor surface and laminate flooring material.
3) Why do I need an underlayment?
Underlayments are used to: (1) improve acoustical properties, (2) smooth out minor sub-floor imperfections, (3) improve insulation properties, (4) reduce walking fatigue, and (5) helping to protect the laminate flooring material from sub-floor moisture. If the laminate you choose already has foam pad pre-attached to the back no other padding is needed. If the laminate floor has no pad attached you can use our Bellawood Premium, Bellawood Platinum, Eco Silent Sound HD, Quiet Walk, and Insulayment underlayment. If you need additional padding under the laminate floor that already has a pad attached you can use the Bellawood Platinum, Bellawood Premium, Quiet Walk, and Eco Silent Sound HD underlayments.
4) How does Laminate flooring compare to other flooring surfaces?
Laminate flooring is typically more durable, less prone to indent, has better stain resistance, resists shrinkage and swelling due to seasonal changes, and is easier to install than many other flooring surfaces.
5) How do I know the laminate flooring I choose is a quality product?
Our laminate flooring is manufactured to stringent requirements and most carry an AC rating of 3 for light commercial applications.
6) I want to install a laminate floor but with kids and pets I am afraid it might be noisy. How does laminate flooring perform in such environments and is there anything I can do to muffle the noise?
Laminate flooring is recommended for an environment where the “challenges” of children and pets exist and it is not significantly noisier than other hard flooring surfaces. The choice of underlayment will have the greatest effect in reducing noise from pedestrian foot traffic. We offer laminates with pre-attached foam backing. You may also want to use our Bellawood premium , Bellawood Platinum and Eco Silent Sound for additional sound deadening qualities.
7) Can laminate flooring be installed on walls?
Although laminates and wood flooring is primarily used for flooring, many DIY’ers have successfully applied flooring to ceiling and wall applications! When doing so it is best to first think safety and to consult with your local building codes.
8) Can I install laminate flooring in an unheated space (e.g., garage, cabin, porch)?
Laminates like cork and wood flooring need to be installed in climatically stable environments, avoiding extreme temperature swings and excessive humidity. Ideal acclimation values are between (60F-85F) temperatures and (35% – 65%) humidity.
9) Can laminate floor be installed in a basement?
Yes, laminate flooring may be installed in a basement in accordance with the manufacturer product specific installation recommendations. Always use a 6mm-8mm plastic moisture barrier over cement.
10) How long will a laminate floor last?
This depends upon the product one selects, the use it sees, and how well it is cared for.
11) Can laminate flooring be installed over a radiant heated floor?
Yes. However, there are special installation procedures required for radiant heated sub-floors. The manufacturer’s installation recommendations must be followed to ensure a successful installation. Most laminate flooring can be used in combination with many types of in-floor heating. The heating system can be embedded in a concrete floor or in a thin layer of filler on the surface of a concrete subfloor. It can also be installed retro fitted under a wood subfloor or installed on the surface of a subfloor as matting, electric or hydronic. Note the instructions from the supplier of the floor heating system. Before installation, the heating system must be in operation for at least 2 weeks prior to the installation of laminate flooring, this helps to dry out any remaining hidden residual moisture. The system may be turned off or set to a suitable installation temperature (65 – 72 degrees F.) After installation, the temperature may be increased slowly at the rate of approximately 5 degrees per day, and should not exceed 85 degrees F. Follow the instructions from the manufacturer of the floor heating system that do not conflict with the above requirements.
12) Can laminate flooring be installed in a bathroom?
Most manufacturers offer laminate products for use in ½ bathrooms. However due to high humidity, Lumber Liquidators recommends against laminates in full bathrooms.
13) Will laminate flooring fade?
Not Normally. It is possible that over the years you may find a small difference under rugs and furniture due to UV light or cleaning products.
14) Should I be concerned about heavy furniture or appliances being placed on laminate?
Laminate flooring offers better indentation and scratch resistance than most other types of flooring particularly as related to heavy loads. However, care and common sense should be exercised when moving heavy objects placed upon the flooring.
15) Are all laminate floors installed in basically the same manner?
There can be substantial differences in installation methods. Most laminates are held together by a locking system as they float over some kind of padding. Many styles require edge gluing and clamping, we offer glueless laminates with three distinctive locking systems; tap and lock, lock and fold and angle-angle. Please follow the manufacturer’s specific installation instructions.
16) Can I install a laminate floor by myself?
Yes, most laminates can be a “do-it-yourself” installation. However people tend to have varying degrees of carpentry skills, so for this reason professional installers can be called if one finds the installation difficult.
17) Why is an expansion zone or space needed around the perimeter of a room?
An expansion zone is always needed to allow for the normal movements of the flooring system due to climatic changes. Normally this space is the same as the thickness of your new flooring or from ¼”-1/2” depending on the total area of the room.
18) Why must the laminate product be in the room it will be installed in 2-3 days prior to installation?
You and the product will benefit by allowing this acclimation. The laminate and underlayment should acclimate to the conditions of the room it will be installed. Giving the product time to stabilize to its installation environment will help to minimize subsequent dimensional changes that can result in excessive gapping or squeaks. Think of acclimation as an ongoing process, ideal acclimation values are (60F – 85F) temperatures and (35% – 65%) humidity.
19) Can we install laminate over old carpet?
No, carpets will have to be removed because it offers no moisture protection or support to the locking system.
20) What special considerations may be required for large installations or adjoining rooms?
Depending upon room size and layout, and the manufacturer’s recommendations, transition accessory pieces may be required to allow for proper expansion and contraction of the laminate floor. Normally spans exceeding 27ft in any direction will require some sort of expansion break. Please refer to your specific manufacturer or installer recommendations.
21) How will the laminate floor attach, or transition to, adjacent areas which have different floor coverings which have carpet or vinyl?
To create functional and attractive transitions from your laminate floor to adjacent different floor coverings such as carpet or vinyl, accessory pieces designed for the specific transition are available in matching or coordinating decors, and are usually required to complete a professional-looking installation. Please refer to your specific manufacturer or installer recommendations.
22) What should I do about an uneven sub-floor?
Underlayment should take care of most minor imperfections. Larger sub-floor irregularities may require sanding, patching, filling or other measures. Refer to manufacturer instructions for tolerances.
23) Can I glue or nail the laminate to the sub-floor?
Laminate flooring is installed as a “floating floor”. To the extent any glue or nails may be used, refer to manufacturer instructions.
Cleaning/Maintenance/Durability of Laminate Flooring
24) How do I repair scratches or other damage to a laminate floor?
Most home centers have repair kits available to remove, fill or repair minor chip damage. If the damage is severe it may require a qualified installer to replace an individual board.
25) How do I care for my laminate floor?
Laminate flooring is made to be easy to care for, consequently no waxing is required. Typically, all that is required is sweeping to remove surface grit and occasional spot treatment with a manufacturer’s recommended cleanser. Strong cleaners are neither required nor recommended; “Wet flood mopping” is also not recommended for cleaning, laminate floors are moisture resistant not water proof. For specific care instructions please contact us. Our Dream Home Laminate cleaner is excellent for laminates.
Contacts, Warranty and Manufacturer Specific Information
26) What are the warranties on laminate product?
Utopia 10yrs, Charisma 20yrs, Nirvana 25yrs, St James and Kensington 30 yrs. Warranties will not apply to scratching, denting, and chipping or moisture issues.
27) How can I get more information?
Product specific information can be obtained from Lumber Liquidators Customer Care 1-800-366-4204 or Log on to the “Flooring 101” part of our website or visit your local Lumber Liquidators nearest you.