Laminate flooring is a popular flooring option because of its attractiveness, durability, scratch resistance and most importantly, its ease of installation. Laminates can be laid down on almost all subfloors with minimal preparations, which is why many homeowners do its installation as a DIY project. But, when it comes to the concrete subfloor, excessive moisture is definitely a concern. There are many factors to consider to get the laminate flooring installed properly when the subfloor is made of concrete.
Here’s a guide to installing laminate flooring over concrete to get the best-looking floors that last for years.
- Preparing the Subfloor
The first thing to consider before installation is preparing the subfloor. If the concrete slab is new, you should give at least 30 days for it to cure before installing any type of flooring. If the concrete slab is already installed, then 4 things should be checked as a part of pre-installation process, dryness, level and cleanliness.
Make sure that the subfloor is free of dust, debris, and other unwanted elements. The surface should be smooth and levelled (use a long level to measure it; any variance over 3/16th of an inch every 10 feet is not good), any roughness on the subfloor can create problems in installation. Use a concrete grinder if you feel that the subfloor needs finishing.
The next thing to consider is moisture. The subfloor should be dry or else it can cause damage to laminate planks. Many homeowners have the misconception that concrete is a hard material and moisture can’t penetrate into it. However, the fact is moisture vapour can easily pass through the concrete slab and cause declamation and warping of laminate flooring. To deal with this problem, use a moisture meter and check the humidity. If the reading is more than or equal to 4.5%, it’s unsafe to install flooring.
If your subfloor passes the moisture test, then place the laminate flooring in the room where it’s to be installed and leave it for 3 days for acclimation.
- Placing the Moisture Barrier
Begin the installation procedure by laying a plastic vapour barrier (minimum 6 mils thick) or any other barrier recommended by the manufacturer on the concrete subfloor to prevent moisture from reaching to laminate flooring. Use vinyl tape to secure the barrier and keep it from coming out.
If you want to build comfortable floors, then add a layer of laminate padding on the top of the vapour barrier. Since concrete is an extremely hard material, it can feel uncomfortable to walk on the floors if it lacks padding.
- Installing the Laminate Flooring
Start installing the laminate flooring by matching their tongue with the groove. Apply firm pressure when pushing the planks together. While installing, make sure that you leave an expansion gap of 1/4″ on all sides. Here’s a tutorial for you on how to install laminate flooring.
Go through manufacturer’s recommendations before starting the installation process. Make sure that your concrete subfloors are in perfect condition to get flawless laminate floors. Remember that concrete slabs are not immune to moisture. Take all the necessary precautions to ensure a smooth installation.
If you think that you’re unable to install laminate flooring perfectly, let a professional flooring installer handle it.