Laminate flooring offers beautiful looks that can emulate the elegance of porcelain tile and the warmth of hardwood, but with the easy maintenance and super durability that only a laminate can offer. With so many manufacturers there is an overwhelming abundance of wood and tile designs. Laminate flooring has allowed many homeowners to afford new flooring because of the lower cost of laminate flooring. Besides, with advances in laminate flooring manufacturing, it looks and feels very similar to hardwood flooring. Gone are the days of the faux wood that looks like fake wood.. now laminates are being released with actual full reproduction imaging of actual surfaces. Laminate flooring looks so similar to wood flooring that many people cannot tell the difference.
Besides laminate flooring, check out some of the other flooring options below.
Things worth knowing prior to installation day.
You’ve learned all you need to (Hopefully by visiting our store and this website), shopped smart and made your best purchase decision.
Now we offer two words of advice: be prepared. Get ready for the day your new laminate flooring will arrive for installation.
Being prepared and involved will help insure that the process is done smoothly and efficiently, and, hopefully, eliminate expressions of “I wish I’d remembered to…”.
Knowing what to expect will also be a lot less stressful on you, your family and your home.
Let the pros do the job is our first advice.
Installing this type of floor yourself is difficult work, labor intensive and extremely exacting.
We recommend you call upon a reliable professional to install your laminate floor. That way you can be assured of a beautiful, efficient and correct installation.
However, while installing laminate flooring is a skill that is developed through years of experience, your understanding of the basics of installation will increase your knowledge of the process and enhance your confidence in the professionals working in your home.
We strongly recommend you call upon a reliable, seasoned, dedicated professional to install your laminate floor.
That way you can be assured of a beautiful, efficient and correct installation.
Which is precisely what our goal is for you.
However, while installing laminate flooring is a skill that is developed through training and experience, your understanding of the basics of installation will increase your knowledge of the process and enhance your confidence in the professionals working in your home.
So please allow us to cover some of the basics with you.
Numerous creators, yet a single process.
Today there are many manufacturers producing laminate flooring products.
Most manufacturers have their own specific installation guidelines, however the overall process is the same.
Laminate floors use what is known as a “floating floor” installation. This means the planks or tiles simply lay on top of the floor without being adhered to the subfloor and are only adhered to each other on the edges.
Side seams are either glued together or joined using a “glueless” installation where the planks or tiles tightly interlock together. Both installations are considered floating floors.
First, your floor goes under the glass.
The first step an installer takes when installing a laminate floor is to closely inspect your subfloor for any imperfections.
While no floor is perfectly level, the subfloor should be checked for any noticeable gaps or ridges that could cause problems.
Your floor is then cleaned. The installers will also make sure that the laminate planks or tiles have had sufficient time to acclimate to their new surroundings. Probably by delivering them days ahead of installation.
Understand underlayment, for it’s the next step.
The installers now put down an underlayment directly over your subfloor.
This underlayment allows the floor to expand and contract with changes in temperature and also acts as a sound and moisture barrier. Both good ideas.
In some installations, there are two underlayment layers.
The first layer is installed to specifically act as a moisture barrier while the second layer provides a sound barrier and enhances your flooring’s performance.
The underlayment is typically rolled out and taped together at the seams.
Installers will cut the pieces of underlayment where needed with a precision utility knife to make a perfect fit.
Now your laminate planks or tiles are laid.
Installers will typically begin in the left corner of the area and leave a minimum 1/4″ space between the flooring and the perimeter walls.
This is done because the laminate requires space around the edges of the room to expand or contract.
Without that “breathing room” your floor will express its discontent. If the floor is touching or too close to a wall, it can buckle in the middle.
Along the wall, the installers use spacers as they work, to ensure the accuracy of this perimeter space.
They use one spacer for each square foot. Once your floor is fully installed they remove the spacers and cover the perimeter gap with quarter round trim or a wall base.
As the installers lay the planks or tiles in the desired pattern, they will carefully measure and precisely cut them to fit.
Clueless about glueless? Here’s what to know.
As mentioned earlier, many laminates today don’t require glue for the installation.
These glueless products have significantly impacted the laminate flooring industry and there are several reasons why the glueless laminates are so popular.
Most importantly, they are easy to install. The installer simply puts down an underlayment and the laminate interlock to each other one at a time.
If something goes wrong during installation, your floor can be dismantled plank by plank, or tile by tile, and re-built.
If one of the planks gets damaged after installation, your entire floor can be removed, the damaged plank replaced, and the floor can be put back together again.
Understand that some floors need glue.
For floors that require glue on the sides of the planks or tiles, the installers begin by gluing the first two panels in the first row together.
Again, they start in the left-hand corner and glue the first row together at the ends.
As they glue each plank or tile they apply clamps or use straps to hold the pieces together.
Although planks or tiles usually fit together easily, installers will sometimes use a tapping block while fitting the boards together.
For installations that use glue, once the floor is completed and the glue is dry, installers then remove the spacers.
To finish your floor, the installers add molding to cover the perimeter gap and install any additional transition trim pieces needed in doorways or where the laminate meets a different type of flooring.
Custom finished moldings and trim will give your laminate flooring a beautiful, finished look. They are all coordinated to match or accentuate the design of your floor. It’s all part of a professional installation.
For your knowledge, here are some finishing terms and definitions.
Reducer Strip is used to create a smooth transition between two floors of different heights, as well as protect the plank or tile exposed edges from damage caused by foot traffic.
Overlapping Stair Nosing is similar to a flush stair nosing except the nosing overlaps the exposed edge of your floor.
The overlapping stair nosing is secured to the subfloor and not to the laminate floor so the floor is free to move. Recall the “floating floor” idea we mentioned earlier in this section.
T-Molding is used to bridge two areas of flooring that are the exact same height.
The T-Molding overlaps the exposed edges of the floor and is secured only to the subfloor, never to the flooring itself.
Generally this trim is used as the transition piece between rooms, or as the expansion piece for areas that exceed 30 feet in length.
Universal Edge is also called a Square Nosing and is used where the laminate flooring butts up to carpeting, or various vertical surfaces where the edge will be exposed, such as along a fireplace.
Quarter Round gives the floor a finished look and protects the edges of your laminate flooring.
The result is a beautiful, professionally installed laminate floor.
What to know and do before installation day
Furniture is the first step.
Remove all furniture and other objects and materials from the areas where the installation will take place. Some installers will move your furniture, but there may be an additional charge for doing so.
Before moving, you’ll also need to empty the contents of china cabinets, closets and the like.
Be aware that the area of installation must be climate controlled (heated or air conditioned). Indoor humidity should be maintained between 45-65%.
What about your old floor covering?
Please consider how your old floor covering will be taken up and disposed of. This can be a time consuming task. We recommend that you check with us about the cost and the method of disposal.
If you prefer to remove your present floor covering, do it at least one day prior to arrival of your laminate product to allow for cleanup and floor preparation. If removing old carpet, please leave tack strips in place and pull the staples out of the floor from the original pad.
Know what to do with your trim.
In many cases, moldings and baseboards need to be removed for laminate installation. Your installer may do this but at an additional charge and they will probably not be responsible for damage or breakage due to dry or brittle wood.
Painted baseboards, woodwork and paint may need retouching after the installation is complete. If necessary, this is your responsibility.
Subflooring is next.
Your existing subfloor may need to be prepared to receive the laminate, or a new subfloor may be required. We suggest you discuss this with us and, if subfloor work is necessary, that it be done by qualified professionals. It is important that the subfloor be as clean and level as possible.
Doors need your attention.
When laminate is installed, there’s always the possibility that the doors, especially closet doors, basement and bedroom doors, may not clear the new laminate and swing free.
Some installers will remove doors in order to install the laminate and re-hang them if possible. They probably won’t shave or cut down doors to insure clearance. You should check with us as to their policy and the cost. You may need to arrange for a qualified carpenter to provide this service after the installation of your new laminate floor.
Follow-up on the clean-up.
Installing new laminate will produce waste.
Usually these materials are collected by your installer and left at your trash collection site. Check with us before the day of installation so you’re clear about the clean up, if there are added costs to do so, and ask about the plan for laminate remnants.
What to know and do during installation day
Installation day is a stay at home day.
Be prepared to be at home the day of installation and be available in case the installation crew has questions. Your presence will insure that the correct laminate is installed in the right areas. Because it is difficult to estimate the length and circumstances of each job, some installers may not be able to give you an exact time of arrival. We will keep you updated on the installer’s schedule.
Your safety is top priority.
Your installers will use a variety of tools and techniques that can make the work area hazardous. Please make sure that your children and pets are kept out of the work area on installation day.
The walk-thru is a key step.
We recommend that, prior to the completion of the installation, you walk thru the job with the chief installer. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions and be clear on any final details.
What to know and do after installation day
Air on the healthy side.
If you are sensitive to dust and odors, good ventilation should be established for 48 to 72 hours after installation.
Be in the know by having a plan.
Being prepared for installation day through careful planning and smart preparing will make your life and the installers a lot easier. It will also make your laminate flooring experience enjoyable right from day one.
Maintaining your hardwood floor requires know-how.
Click here for a full size video
Once installed your hardwood floor will look beautiful, but time and traffic, stains and spills, will take their toll.
So, you need a short course on taking care of your floor, and for that you’ve come to the right place.
We want you to know all about hardwood maintenance because the more you know the better able you’ll be to keep your floor looking new.
Wood is a natural, beautiful and timeless design element.
Consistent and correct maintenance will insure it remains that way.
Entrances are your first line of defense.
Place walk off mats or area rugs at each entryway to collect dirt and grit that might be tracked in.
These tiny particles act like sandpaper and will scratch your floor.
Be sure to avoid using rubber-backed or non-ventilated mats or rugs as they can damage your floor. Instead use mats or rugs made especially for hardwood floors and remember to shake them out regularly.
In addition to entryways, remember to place mats in any areas where water may be splashed, such as near a kitchen sink.
Invest in these tools.
Buy a good quality broom and sweep your new floor regularly to pick up grains of dirt, dust and other particles.
A vacuum cleaner, without a beater bar, can be helpful in between planks and other hard to reach areas. Once dirt and grease are gone, buffing can help restore the luster of your hardwood floor.
Keep in mind these cleaning tips.
Cleaning techniques vary depending on the installation and finish of your hardwood floor.
For “Finish in Place” hardwood floors, we recommend using an 8”x14” terrycloth mop with a rotating head that makes cleaning corners, under cabinets and along base boards an easy task.
Spray a professional wood floor cleaning product recommended by us to safely remove tough stains and spills without dulling the finish of your floor.
Manufacturers of “Pre-finished” hardwood floors recommend their own specific products designed for their floors routine maintenance.
Be sure to check with us as well about these cleaners.
All floors with a urethane finish should never be waxed and require cleaners that won’t leave a film or residue.
A hardwood floor cleaner is useful in removing occasional scuffs or heel marks. Merely spray some cleaner on a cloth and lightly rub the stained area. Sticky spots can be cleaned with a damp towel or sponge.
Do not use ammonia cleaners or oil soaps on a wood floor, as they will dull the finish and performance of your floor. These products will also affect the ability to recoat your floor later.
Since wood naturally expands when it is wet, never wet mop or use excessive water to clean your floor. Large amounts of water can cause the wood to swell and may cause your floor to crack or splinter.
Being a natural product, hardwood will expand and contract due to moisture level changes. Minimize water exposure to hardwood floors and clean up spills as soon as they happen.
Know this about deep cleaning.
If your floor is showing excessive wear beyond normal cleaning you may want to consider screening and recoating.
Screening is the process used to abrade the polyurethane finish that is currently on the floor. Then, fresh coats of urethane are applied. Screening and recoating will rejuvenate and prolong the life of your hardwood floor.
If the damage to the floor is severe and has gone through the stain of the boards down to the bare wood, you can sand and refinish.
This should only be done if a screening and recoating does not solve the problem. This is an extensive process where the floor is sanded down to the bare wood, restained and then refinished.
If the damage is only in a small area you may want to see if replacement boards are available to alleviate having to refinish an entire area.
Be sure to hire an experienced professional when having any work done on your hardwood floor.
Finally, protect against time, sun and traffic.
All hardwood floors will fade, darken or change shades over time. Exposure to sunlight will greatly increase this process.
Window treatments are recommended, as well as rotating area rugs and furniture regularly to allow floors to age evenly from UV exposure.
Cover furniture and table legs with protectors to guard your floor against damage. Take care when moving heavy objects across your floor to avoid scuffing.
Stiletto heels can cause dents and scratches that are not covered by your warranty. Love your pet but regularly trim their nails or claws to avoid scratches on the hardwood floor. The point here is to be cautious of sharp objects that may scratch or damage the floor.
A hardwood floor of beauty and pride can be yours today and tomorrow if you know how to care for it right from the start, clean it on a regular basis and schedule professional maintenance when that is called for.
Add a Fine Floorz finish to your home with the help Fine Floorz refinishing services, your source for custom hardwood flooring and refinishing services in the Bay Area. Our friendly flooring experts work closely with you to design a floor that’s right for you and your budget.
Our Fine Flooring Specialties Include:
Hardwood Floors & Flooring Services
Rejuvenate your home with fine hardwood flooring services by Fine Floorz. Whether installing a new floor or refinishing an existing one, our team of skilled project managers & craftsmen work closely with you to create hardwood floors that meet your needs and personal sense of style.
Not only are we committed to providing superior hardwood flooring and using premium products, we are committed to providing you with personalized service and affordable rates. This commitment has earned us Diamond Certified (add link) as well as many valuable customers and we hope to add you to that list.
Old hardwood flooring become FINE FLOORZ! We specialize in refinishing services; our craftsmen painstakingly sand down your old hardwood floors and refinish them with the color of your choice. You simply won’t believe how FINE your new refinished hardwood floor will look and feel in your home.
Contact us at (925) 938-2222 and speak to one of our hardwood flooring experts today!
Any floor that is above the level of the surrounding ground on which the structure is built.
Acrylic monomers are injected into the cell structure of the wood to give increased hardness and then finished with a wear layer over the wood.
A slightly different chemical make up than Polyurethane with the same benefits.
Added to the urethane finish for increased abrasion resistance of the wear layer, which is becoming extremely popular on the better grade wood floors.
A cement slab poured below the level of the surrounding terrain.
A quality of oak. Better Oak has some small knots and very little dark graining.
These products have a very distinctive groove in them. Beveled edge planks lend themselves to an informal and country decor. With the urethane finishes applied at the factory today, the beveled edges are sealed completely, making dirt and grit easy to be swept or vacuumed out of the grooves.
In the summer months, when the humidity is higher, wood will expand and gaps will disappear. If there is too much moisture it may cause the wood planks to cup, or buckle.
Advanced technology that allows the use of space-age ceramics to increase the abrasion resistance of the wear layer.
A quality of oak. Clear Oak has no visual blemishes or knots and is extremely expensive.
Engineered wood plies that are stacked on top of each other but in the opposite direction is called cross-ply construction. This creates a wood floor that is dimensionally stable and less affected by moisture than a 3/4” solid wood floor. Cross-ply construction allows the plies to counteract each other which will stop the plank from growing or shrinking with the changes in humidity. The other advantage for you is versatility. You can install these floors over concrete slabs in your basement as well as anywhere else in your home.
A type of warping with a concave condition; the sides are higher than the center.
Each board is just slightly beveled. Some manufacturers add an eased edge to both the length of the planks as well as the end joints. Eased edges are used to help hide minor irregularities, such as uneven plank heights. Eased edge is also called micro-beveled edge.
One of the three common types of wood floors. (Others are Solid and Longstrip Plank.) Engineered wood floors are generally manufactured with 2,3, or 5 thin sheets or plies of wood that are laminated together to form one plank. Most engineered floors can be nailed down, stapled down, glued down, or floated over a wide variety of subfloors, including some types of existing flooring.
Finish in Place
Finish in Place, or unfinished hardwood, is installed in the home and then sanded. The stain and 2-3 coats of urethane finish are then applied. The urethane finish, brushed or mopped on, is known as a “floor finish” not a “furniture finish”. Finish in Place floors may be screened and recoated to rejuvenate the finish and revitalize the floor’s natural beauty.
Floating Floor Installation
With the floating installation method the floor is not mechanically fastened to any part of the subfloor. A thin pad is placed between the wood flooring and the subfloor. Then a recommended wood glue is applied in the tongue and groove of each plank to hold the planks together. The padding has its advantages: it protects against moisture, reduces noise transmission, is softer under foot, and provides for some additional “R” value. Some engineered floors and all Longstrip floors can be floated.
The recommended mastic or adhesive is spread on with the proper sized trowel to adhere the wood flooring to the subfloor. You should know that engineered wood floors and parquets can be glued down. Solid strip floors and plank floors can only be nailed or stapled.
Each wood species has its own unique graining and texture. The graining on the boards is determined by the way it has been cut. Natural variations in the color and grain are normal and to be expected.
Janka Hardness Test
This wood hardness rating test measures the force needed to embed a .444 inch steel ball to half its diameter in a piece of wood. The higher the number the harder the wood. Although this is one of the best methods to measure the ability of wood species to withstand indentations, it should be used as a general guide when comparing various species of wood flooring.
On a piece of wood, the round, harder, usually darker in color, cross section of where the branch joined the trunk of the tree.
Laminate is a manufactured product that simulates the look of hardwood, ceramic tile, natural stone and many other types of flooring.
Long Strip Plank
One of the three common types of wood floors. (Others are Engineered and Solid.) Long Strip Plank floors are similar to Engineered floors and have several wood plies that are glued together. The center core is generally a softer wood material and is used to make the tongue and groove. A hardwood finish layer is glued on top of the core. The top layer can be almost any hardwood species and is made up of many smaller individual pieces that are laid in three rows. This gives the effect of installing a board that is 3 rows wide and several planks long. Long Strip floors come in a wide variety of domestic and exotic hardwood species and when damaged they are easy to replace.
Moisture Cured Urethane
A similar chemical make up as solvent-based urethanes, but this finish needs the humidity (moisture) in the air to cure.
Are used to cover expansion joints and to enhance the performance and appearance of the hardwood floor. In many cases, moldings and baseboards need to be removed for hardwood installation.
This method is typically used with the 3/4″ solid products, however there are adapters available for thinner flooring sizes as well. 2″ nailing cleats are used with a wood flooring nailer and mallet to attach the flooring to the subfloor.
Number 1 Common
A quality of oak. Number 1 Common Oak has more knots and more dark graining.
Number 2 Common
A quality of oak. Number 2 Common Oak has more knots and more dark graining.
A cement slab that exists on the same plane as the surrounding terrain.
When shopping for a hardwood floor you will see boards in various sizes. The narrower board widths are referred to as “strips” and the wider units as “planks.” When we think of solid wood floors we generally are talking about a 3/4″ thick plank that is 2 1/4″ wide. This is the classic strip wood floor, although it is possible to find a narrower width or a slightly thinner gage. The strips are generally in random lengths from 12″ – 84″.
A clear, tough and durable finish that is applied as a wear layer.
Pre-Finished Wood Floor
Pre-finished hardwood flooring comes ready for installation in your home. The hardwood boards have already been sanded, stained and finished at the manufacturing plant. In many cases this can provide a harder, better- protected surface. Several coats of urethane are sprayed on the boards and then they are UV dried for a very durable finish. Pre-finished floors offer a wider variety of wood species and save hours of labor and cleanup. They also may be screened and recoated to rejuvenate the finish and revitalize the floor’s natural beauty.
Each species has its own unique graining and texture. The graining on the boards is determined by the way it has been cut. Rotary Cut is a cutting process that displays a larger and bolder graining pattern.
A quality of oak. Select Oak has some small knots and very little dark graining.
Each species has its own unique graining and texture. The graining on the boards is determined by the way it has been cut. Sliced Cut is a cutting process that shows a more uniform pattern.
One of the three common types of wood floors. (Others are Engineered and Longstrip Plank.) Solid wood floors are one solid piece of wood that have tongue and groove sides. When we talk about solid wood floors, we tend to think of floors that are unfinished, but it’s important to know that there are also many pre-finished 3/4” solid wood floors. Solid wood floors are sensitive to moisture and because so they are used in nail down installations and are not recommended for installation below ground level, or directly over a concrete slab.
Oil is used as part of the chemical make up of the polyurethane finish.
The edges of all boards meet squarely creating a uniform, smooth surface that blends the floor together from board to board.
With this method 1-1/2 to 2 inch staples are used versus nailing cleats to attach the wood flooring to the subfloor. A pneumatic gun is used to drive the staple into the wood flooring and subfloor.
When shopping for a hardwood floor you will see boards in various sizes. The narrower board widths are referred to as “strips” and the wider units as “planks.” When we think of solid wood floors we generally are talking about a 3/4″ thick plank that is 2 1/4″ wide. This is the classic strip wood floor, although it is possible to find a narrower width or a slightly thinner gage. The strips are generally in random lengths from 12″ – 84″. The most common wood species used for solid strip floors are red oak, white oak, maple, cherry, white ash, hickory or pecan.
Tongue and Groove
The joining of two boards, one board having a tongue on its edge that fits into a groove in the edge of the other.
Un-Finished Wood Floor
An Un-Finished wood floor allows you to have a custom job – you choose the wood species and it’s sanded and the stain is applied on site. With Un-Finished you also have the chance to level the surface of the entire floor after it has been installed.
Factory wood finishes that are cured with Ultra Violet lights versus heat.
Water is used as part of the chemical make up of the polyurethane finish.