One of the main advantages of choosing laminate flooring
is that it can be installed over any type of subfloor surface. So, irrespective of whether you have concrete, vinyl, hardwood or ceramic, you can install laminate over it since it is a floating floor system that is not attached or glued to the surface below. However, the subfloor must meet few basic requirements.
Here’s a small guide to help you prepare the subfloor for a laminate flooring installation.
It is important to know what you can afford to spend for the flooring. This will automatically reduce the number of options you have at hand. For example, if your budget does not allow spending for Italian Marble in all the rooms, you will have to consider using different budget friendly flooring in some parts of the home at least.
Cleaning The Subfloor
The subfloor must be clean of any debris, dirt, glue, residue, wax and oils. So, you must clean the surface thoroughly to remove all traces of any of the above mentioned materials. You cannot install laminate flooring on a carpet. So you will have to remove the carpet with the padding and install it on the concrete subfloor instead. If you have plans to reuse the floor padding, then you must remove it very carefully to prevent it from getting damaged.
Defect Free and Structurally Sound
The subfloor has to be in good condition and free of any defects. There should not be any nails or loose boards. If you notice any errors, then correct it at this stage. If it is concrete, then ensure that it is structurally sound and has no cracks. Ideally, the concrete subfloor must at least be a month old to ensure that it is fully dry. You can use a moisture testing tool in several places in the room to check whether it’s fully dried and cured. Check the installation manual that came with the moisture flooring to know about the acceptable moisture level for the flooring. For best results, it is recommended that you use a vapor barrier since concrete will always give off some moisture. If the moisture level is more than the accepted level, then it is best that you speak to a flooring expert about installation
The subfloor must be level and if there are variations in the surface, then it should not be more than the accepted level in the building codes. A lot of people hear squeaking sounds coming from the laminate flooring. The main cause of this is an unlevelled subfloor. You can use a level and tape measure to test the subfloor surface. As a rule of thumb, it is recommended that there should not be more than 3/16th of an inch discrepancy over 10 feet of space. Many installers also provide additional services in which they level the subfloor before installation. You may want to speak to your flooring material supplier to know more about this.
If your laminate flooring does not come pre-attached with an under pad, then you may need a separate underlayment layer to add stability and to make it soundproof. There are a wide range of underlayment materials to choose from and you can choose one that best suits your requirements.
If you are unsure about DIY installation, then you can always hire installers to help you with the installation process.