Over the years of installing thousands of square feet of laminate floors we have developed what I call the 4 L’s of Laminate. The L’s are: Load, Lighting, Leveling, and Length.
Pool tables, pianos, aquariums etc are notoriously heavy. The pounds per square inch, especially an aquarium on a four-leg rod-iron stand, can be significant. If your room has any of these heavy-weights (over 500 lbs.), the “Load L” is important to you. Remember, laminate floors are “floating” floors, meaning they aren’t fastened down to the subfloor underneath. Their structural integrity depends on the locking strength between the planks–like an interlocking puzzle.
If planks aren’t staggered 12” from row to row you risk stressing the locking system between planks, resulting in breaking the lock and/or creating squeaks or worse.
Another technique is to create an “island” around the heavy object by laying what is essentially a separate floor separated from the rest of the floor by transition strips. This way, the load-bearing floor is isolated and can be laid tighter than the rest of the floor. Of course, this only makes sense if you don’t plan to move your pool table around.
What’s along your floor and how long is it?
Most of us don’t have rooms large enough where a maximum installation span of 40’ without a transition strip is a concern. However, many businesses that use laminate floors (i.e. restaurant dining rooms, office foyers) or many residential hallways will measure that much or more. Large rooms look great with laminate flooring, but most types of flooring cannot dissipate heat easily and excessively long spaces can be problematic.
As it’s stated above, make sure you have your transitions strips in correct increments. And always remember, even though it may be tempting to do otherwise, because it may seem easier, install planks length-wise in hallways. It always looks better!
This “L” is the one that is the most important after the Laminate itself. In order to ensure minimal problems your floor must be made flat. Just like a ship bobs up and down on the uneven waves of a choppy sea, so too will your laminate floor if the floor underneath isn’t level. That’s because laminate floors are “floating”floors, and as such, are not fastened down to the subfloor. That actually makes the condition of the subfloor more critical to the success of your installation. Left un-fixed, a floor that isn’t laying flat could squeak or separate.
Unfortunately many of Vancouver’s typical condo’s that are concrete based or even the typical basements have very uneven floors. This must be corrected prior to installing your laminate floor. Many installers will try to cut corners at this stage since it is a step that is time consuming and they don’t make a lot of money doing it.
Make sure the installer shows you where the problem areas are before AND after the leveling work is done. Do not try to same money at this stage because it will come back and bite you on the A_ _ .