Laminate flooring (C) Daniel FriedmanBest Practices Guide to Installing Plastic Laminate Flooring
     

  • Guidelines for Selecting & Installing Plastic Laminate Flooring
  • Durability of Plastic Laminate Floors
  • Installation Procedure for Plastic Laminate Floors
  • Warranty Information for Plastic Laminate Flooring
  • Where to buy laminate flooring materials
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to buy, install, inspect, troubleshoot, or repair plastic laminate flooring
  • REFERENCES

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This article describes the installation procedure for plastic lamiante flooring, the durabilty of laminate flooring, and includes laminate flooring warranty information. This article series discusses and provides a best construction practices guide to the selection and installation of building interior surface materials, carpeting, doors, drywall, trim, flooring, lighting, plaster, materials, finishes, and sound control materials. This article includes excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons. Our page top photo of plastic laminate flooring shows a laminate floor installed by our associate, Paul Galow.

Also see INTERIORS of buildings, our home page for information about all topics relating to building interiors.

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Guidelines for Selecting & Installing Plastic Laminate Flooring

As described in the book, Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction Chapter 5, Interior Finish:

Plastic laminate flooring was introduced to the U.S. market in the mid-1990s and now competes with vinyl as a low maintenance floor covering.

Laminate plastic floor board construction detail - Dream Home Laminate Floors catalog Photo (left) of the components of a plastic laminate floor board is from a Dream Home Laminate Floors® catalog. Variations that are available on this basic design include features that can improve floor durability or performance, including:

  • A built-in 1/8" acoustic foam underlay
  • A blancer layer on the flooring underside for stability

Similar to the high-density plastic laminate used on countertops, the flooring is protected by a clear melamine layer, in some cases reinforced with aluminum oxide.

Dream Home Laminate Floors inform us (by catalog) that the product can be comprised of as many as five construction layers:

  1. An overlay paper or aluminum oxide finish to protect the pattern layer
  2. A pattern layer or layers, decorat5ive or wood species appearance or an actual photograph of wood
  3. A moisture-resistant hardboard core
  4. A bvalancer or stabilizing layer
  5. An acoustic foam underlay

A high-density fiberboard core provides stability and resilience, and a melamine layer on the bottom provides some protection against moisture.

The plastic laminate flooring product comes as either tiles that resemble stone or ceramic tiles or planks that simulate wood flooring.

Both are floating products, edge-glued with PVA adhesive, but not attached to the subfloor. As with floating wood floors, a layer of1/4-inch-thick high-density foam goes under the floor to provide a cushion and even out small irregularities in the subfloor. Most manufacturers offer a higher density premium foam, which is recommended for a more solid feel underfoot.

If the product is installed properly, with sufficient glue to squeeze out along all joints, laminate flooring is moderately waterproof. The main problems occur at edges. To prevent water infiltration, seal with silicone any edges that might be exposed to water in kitchens, bathrooms, or other wet areas. Even with these safeguards, many manufacturers will not warranty laminate flooring in bathrooms. Radiant heat applications are generally acceptable.

Durability of Plastic Laminate Floors

In general, laminate flooring has a very hard surface that resists dents, scratches, and other damage. However, over time, high-traffic areas will lose their sheen and show signs of wear. Other than to replace the planks in those areas, there is little that can be done to restore the original finish.

Installation Procedure for Plastic Laminate Floors

Plastic laminate floor installation (C) D Friedman P GalowLaminate flooring installs over a vapor barrier and thin layer of foam like floating wood floors (see “Floating Floors,” page 173). As with floating wood floors, the substrate must be very level. Fix any low spots with latex- or acrylic-based cementitious compound or building paper layered in progressively larger pieces.

Photo (left) of a plastic laminate floor installation is provided courtesy of Paul Galow.

Concrete must be dry enough that it will not fog a one foot square of polyurethane taped overnight. Thoroughly clean the slab or subfloor, and lay down the vapor barrier and foam provided by the laminate flooring manufacturer.

Lap the vapor barrier 8 inches or tape the foam seams, if that is also serving as the vapor barrier, as allowed in some systems.

The tiles or planks are then glued together with a PVA glue provided by the manufacturer. Pieces are tapped into place and clamped with special strap clamps. Even squeeze out of glue along the entire glue line indicates sufficient glue, which is necessary for a solid, waterproof floor.

As with other floating floors, special T-shaped or L-shaped threshold, end, and transition moldings conceal the ends of flooring at transitions while allowing movement. A1/4-inch gap at the perimeter of the room is typically concealed by the baseboard or quarter-round molding nailed along the bottom of the baseboard (nailed only into the baseboard).

-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.

Warranty Information for Plastic Laminate Flooring

Using a recent Dream Home Laminate Floors® catalog as an example, laminate flooring warranty periods and terms vary among brands and models, typically from 10 to 30 years. Dream Home's "best laminates" (12mm) include a 30-year warranty (contact the manufacturer of the flooring in which you are interested for details about warranty coverage and terms).

Here is an example laminate floor warranty provided by Lumber Liquidators: theirIspiri Dream Home Laminate Flooring 30-year Warranty.

With the expected provisions that the flooring is properly installed, the product is warranted:

  • against manufacturing defects
  • will not fade under artificial light or sunlight
  • will not stain or show wear through the decor layer
  • will resist water damage under normal use conditions
  • for a period of 30 years for normal residential or commercial foot traffic
  • The warranty provides for a store credit for the defective portion of the flooring, used for future purchases from the store.
  • Note that the warranty excludes coverage for installations in bathrooms.

Resources: Manufacturers, Industry Associations, & Sources of Flooring Materials

Prefinished Wood Flooring

Alloc Inc. www.alloc.com Snap-together, no-glue long-strip and single-strip laminated flooring

Anderson Hardwood Floors www.andersonfloors.com Laminated strip, nail, glue, and floating

Armstrong World Industries www.armstrong.com Bruce, Hartco, and Robbins prefinished plank and engineered strip

BHK of America www.bhkuniclic.com Snap-together, no-glue laminated wood flooring

Columbia Wood Flooring www.columbiaflooring.com Prefinished solid strip

Duro-Design www.duro-design.com Floating click-lock oak flooring

Gammapar www.gammapar.com Engineered wood strip with oil, UV-cured urethane, or acrylic-impregnated finish

Junkers Hardwood www.junkershardwood.com Floating solid strip with metal clip installation

Kahrs www.kahrs.com Laminated strip with UV-cured acrylic urethane, nail, glue, or floating

Lauzon www.lauzonltd.com Prefinished strip, laminated strip, and click-lock laminated plank

Mannington Mills www.mannington.com Laminated strip and plank with polyurethane and aluminum-oxide finish

Medallion Hardwood Flooring www.medallionhardwood.com Prefinished solid hardwood strip and plank with aluminum-oxide finish

Tarkett Wood Floors www.harris-tarkett.com Prefinished solid hardwood, laminated, and long-strip flooring

MercierWood Flooring www.mercierdurable.com Prefinished solid strip and laminated strip with aluminum-oxide finish

PermaGrain Hardwood Flooring www.permagrain.com Acrylic-impregnated laminated strip and plank

Zickgraf Hardwood Flooring www.zickgraf.com Prefinished solid strip with UV-cured urethane with diamond and aluminum oxide

Bamboo Flooring Producers & Sources

Bamtex (a division of Wood Flooring International) www.bamtex.com Laminated bamboo and palm flooring

Duro-Design www.duro-design.com Laminated bamboo flooring with durable water-based finish

Gammapar www.gammapar.com Acrylic-impregnated bamboo flooring

Hawa Bamboo Flooring www.hawabamboo.com Prefinished bamboo flooring with aluminum-oxide finish

Natural Cork www.naturalcork.com Prefinished glue-down or nail-down 3-ply bamboo planks with aluminum-oxide finish

Resilient Flooring Manufacturers List

Congoleum www.congoleum.com Vinyl sheet flooring and tiles

Domco (division of Domco Tarkett Group) www.domco.com Vinyl sheet flooring and tiles

Forbo www.forbo-flooring.com Linoleum sheet and tiles

Mannington Mills www.mannington.com Vinyl sheet flooring and tiles

Nova Distinctive Floors www.novafloorings.com Laminated linoleum surface over fiberboard and cork planks, floating installation

Tarkett www.tarkettna.com Vinyl sheet flooring and tiles

Cork Flooring Manufacturers & Sources

American Cork Products Co. www.amcork.com Prefinished parquet tiles and floating floor planks

Amorim Revestimentos (formerly Ipocork) www.wicanders.com Floating or glue-down laminated cork tiles with UV-acrylic or oil finish

BHK of America www.bhkuniclic.com Snap-together, no-glue, laminated cork flooring with UV-acrylic finish

Expanko Cork Inc. www.expanko.com Cork tiles with wax or polyurethane finish

Korq Inc. (212) 758-2593

Natural Cork www.naturalcork.com Glue-down cork tiles and floating laminated planks with UV-cured acrylic finish

Nova Distinctive Floors www.novafloorings.com Laminated cork planks with glue-down and floating click-lock installation

WECork www.wecork.com Cork tiles, sheets, and floating floors

Plastic Laminate Flooring

Dream Home Laminate Flooring, (Lumber Liquidators) web search 11/12/2010. Tel: 800-350-0469

Industry & Trade Associations for Flooring

American Lighting Association www.americanlightingassoc.com

Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industries www.awci.org

Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) www.carpet-rug.org

Drywall Finishing Council www.dwfc.org

Forest Stewardship Program www.fscus.org

FloorFacts www.floorfacts.com

The Gypsum Association www.gypsum.org

National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association (NOFMA) www.nofma.com

National Wood Flooring Association www.woodfloors.org

Painting and Decorating Contractors of America www.pdca.org Smartwood/Rainforest Alliance www.smartwood.org

-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.

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