Laminate flooring is one of the easiest types of flooring you can DIY by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Since laminate flooring looks like hardwood flooring, you may be tempted to nail it to the subfloor.
The urge to nail it down can also be connected to the fact that you are still a beginner. However, can you nail down laminate flooring?
You shouldn’t nail down laminate flooring. As laminate flooring contracts and expands, it creates structural weak points, resulting in further problems such as gapping, peaking, chipping, and delamination. Don’t tamper with your laminate flooring warranty, and take full advantage of the investment.
Continue reading to learn why you shouldn’t nail down laminate flooring and what the proper way is to lay laminate flooring.
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Why You Should Not Nail Down Laminate Flooring
Laminates are manufactured from pressed fiberboard products laminated with a plastic film to provide an aesthetic appearance. They also support the fibreboard underlayment structurally.
Since laminate flooring is a floating floor, it is not recommended to nail or glue it to the subfloor. It is designed to expand and contract according to indoor temperature and humidity levels.
The contraction and expansion processes are completely disrupted, so nailing or gluing it down damages the floor’s integrity. Moreover, the laminate coating itself is susceptible to cracking and splintering when sharp objects penetrate through it.
Moreover, it will also void the warranty of the product. Therefore, you should avoid/refrain from nailing or gluing laminate flooring.
What Happens When Laminate Flooring is Nailed Down?
Because laminate flooring is open to expansion and contraction due to extreme environmental changes, nailing or gluing it down will interfere with both processes.
Consequently, the planks will expand as the temperature increases, but they won’t contract freely against each other as the temperature drops. This creates unsightly gaps at the joints of the adjacent planks.
As the planks contract and expand, they will flex over time because they provide a bit of a give when you walk on them. Over time, this will expose the nails, resulting in chipping and peeling around the nail holes.
The chipping will eventually spread to other planks since the holes will become larger and loosen the joints, compromising the stability of the entire flooring.
Consequently, a chipped surface will peel off the plastic coating (laminate) and begin where the nails are nailed. It will spread further due to friction when you walk on it.
Removing the laminate makes the planks more likely to be affected by dust, debris, and humidity since the laminate provides resistance to water and scratches.
Peaking in laminate flooring is caused by insufficient room for expansion. Therefore, nailing down the laminate flooring eliminates the expansion gap around the floor/room. It causes the edges of the planks to push against one another, thereby creating pinching and high points in some floor areas.
In addition, it will also cause joint failure and permanent warping and buckling of the planks.
Gluing or nailing down the planks will create an airtight floor, making it difficult for moisture to escape. As a result, moisture will accumulate under the flooring, causing damage to the laminate and underlayment.
Also, glue contains chemicals such as polyethylene and polypropylene that are toxic to laminate flooring.
The Best Way to Install Laminate Flooring
Even if you are a beginner, you should strictly adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions when you want to put down laminate flooring. The proper way of putting down laminate flooring is by clicking the planks together using its tongue and groove locking system.
Follow the stepwise guide below to help you successfully put down the laminate flooring.
Step 1: Acclimating the Laminate Flooring
Providing the laminate flooring with ample time to acclimate to indoor environmental conditions is an essential procedure that you shouldn’t skip. Ensure that the planks are laid out flat and allow them to rest for 3 to 4 days in the room.
Step 2: Prepare the Subfloor
Clean the surface to remove dust and debris, and inspect the subfloor for depressions and rises.
Ensure your laminate flooring is laid on a flat and smooth subfloor to avoid any imperfections that will enhance other factors. When addressing subfloor imperfections, check for moisture levels and ensure they are no higher than 12% on a Protimeter prong test scale or 45-65% on a hygrometer scale.
Step 3: Test the Flooring Layout
Planks should be arranged side by side across the room from one end to the other. It will give you a sense of how they will fit in the room rather than wasting time measuring and calculating the overall floor layout.
Do not lock the side joints together, and do not walk on the flooring. It creates a lock that may be difficult to undo and may damage the edges.
Step 4: Lay Down the Underlayment
You can skip this step if you already have laminate flooring with built-in underlayment. Underlayment is a thin and dense foam designed to absorb sound and keep laminate flooring warm. It acts as a bridge between laminate flooring and the subfloor layer underneath.
The padding should be positioned so that the edges meet exactly and do not overlap. If the edges overlap, trim the underlayment with a utility knife. The seams were then sealed with tape.
Step 5: Laying Down your First Plank
First, lay down your laminate parallel/opposite to the longest wall in the room. Make sure the tongue side is facing the wall, and the groove side is facing out. Start by laying a full-size board on the right side and work your way to the left.
Then, place ¾-inch spacers between the end and edge of the board and the wall while ensuring you adhere to the manufacturer’s spacing limit. Repeat the same procedure when laying the second plank until you reach the last one in the row.
Use the large cut plank in the first row, secure the tongue-and-groove end joints, and leave an expansion gap if the piece is small. Trim the plank to length with a circular saw or jigsaw and use the small cut piece.
Step 6: Plan the Next Rows
Start with longer or shorter planks for the second row. Use the portion you just cut from the last piece of the first row for economical use. Using this technique, you will be able to create a more stable structure and an attractive pattern arrangement that doesn’t line up with adjacent rows.
Tap the next row of planks securely into the first row using a wooden block to hold the planks in place.
Then, firmly secure the block with your non-dominant hand and whack it with a hammer in your dominant hand until the gap between the planks disappears. Follow this procedure until you have laid each tile row.
Step 7: Remove the Spacers from the Expansion Gaps and Install Molding
Once you have laid down the final row, trim planks that are not aligned with adjacent rows, and remove the spacers.
To cover the expansion gap between the planks and the wall, install molding, but do not nail the laminate flooring down. For a seamless and smooth finish, caulk any gaps between trim connections, molding, and the floor.
The instructions in this article will help you create a smooth finish and seamless floating surface.
FAQs: Can you Nail Down Laminate Flooring?
Do you staple laminate flooring?
Laminate flooring doesn’t require staples because they bind the floor’s planks together. Staples also prevent the floor from moving. Since laminate flooring is a floating floor, it does not need nails or staples.
The laminate floor will stick to one place if you staple it or attach it to something. When the laminate flooring expands, it won’t have room to move. The planks on the floor will not be able to contract if the floor contracts and the flooring might break.
Should I glue laminate flooring joints?
It is generally not necessary to glue laminate flooring joints. Laminate floors are floating floors, and they don’t require extra materials to attach the planks. Irrespective of whether you glue or not, laminate floors can be problematic to install.
You can, however, glue laminate flooring joints in some cases. Moisture or water can enter the laminate floor’s plank and dampen the floor. To prevent the joints from rusting due to moisture, glue the joints. Laminate flooring, however, is not recommended for gluing.
How do I keep my laminate floor from moving?
Laminate flooring expands and contracts with temperature and humidity. Since it is a floating floor, it does not require glue, nails, or other forms of attachment.
That is why your laminate floor might move. To prevent this from happening, you can slide a spacer between the wall and the long edge of the plank. With this, the laminate can expand and contract with the environment. Also, the floor will not move.
Laminate floors move when the planks contract, creating gaps between the planks. To fix the gap, you can caulk the laminate floor. The laminate floor will no longer move after caulking.
Read More on Laminate Floors
- Laying Laminate Flooring: 13 Common Mistakes to Avoid!
- Will Acetone Damage Laminate Floor? (Explained)
- Can You Use Goo Gone on Laminate Flooring? (Explained)
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