Laminate / LVT Installation Guide

Read the Instructions

How to install laminate and LVT flooringNobody knows your product better than the manufacturer. Always read and follow their complete installation instructions. If instructions were not included in the box, stop and contact the retailer or manufacturer.

 

Inspect to Know What to Expect

How to install laminate and LVT flooringTake the time to look at the area to be installed. Observe the areas of application outlined in the installation guidelines. It is always best to address issues before the project begins.

 

Acclimation

Acclimating laminate flooringAcclimation of product is one of the most critical requirements, and often overlooked. It is important to note that the product must be acclimated in the area where it will be installed and under the conditions it will exist in.

The manufacturer will specify:

  • The length of time a product needs to be acclimated
  • The temperature and humidity guidelines for acclimation
  • Manufacturer will specify how high to stack, whether vertical or horizontal or whether to open cartons or leave cartons closed

Moisture

Excessive moisture is the enemy of most floor coverings. Determining moisture content in a floor is often best left to a professional. Moisture indicators can give an approximate reading of moisture content in a floor but the only way to qualify the results is through a Calcium Chloride test or a Relative Humidity test. Every product manufacture has their own tolerances, it is critical to know and follow their requirements.

Often, when floating a floor, a 6mil poly film can be installed under the flooring to achieve a required moisture barrier.

It is important to note that moisture vapor films can trap moisture that can lead to mold and mildew. It is always best to remedy the cause of the excess moisture before installing your floor.


Subfloor

SOUND generally refers to structural strength of the substrate; is it flaking off, cracked, contaminated or has other defects?

DRY has to do with moisture. Manufactures specify acceptable moisture content on subfloors, it is critical to stay within guidelines.

CLEAN means free of debris or particles, this is important when gluing… is it dust free?

FlatnessManufactures specify the acceptable FLATNESS a floor can tolerate, usually indicated by depth or height of undulation in a specified distance (example: 1/8” in 12’).

Manufactures specify the acceptable DEFLECTION, or “bounce” a floor can tolerate.


Expansion Space

Laminate flooring expansionFloating floors require expansion gaps at the walls and other vertical surfaces. Since a floating floor is not fixed to the substrate, and expands and contracts monolithicly, expansion gaps are required. Since each flooring expands and contracts differently, manufacturers have different requirements. It is important to follow their installation instructions. Spacers can be placed at the vertical surface to achieve the proper expansion gap. Expansion gaps are often required at doorways and in large open areas as well.


Floating

Laminate and LVT flooring floating

When floating a floor it is critical that it be allowed to free float over the substrate.

NEVER install cabinets on top of floating floors

NEVER install heavy furniture or islands over floating floors


Sunlight

LUXURY VINYL will be affected by constant direct sunlight overtime. Avoid exposure to long periods of direct sunlight to protect your floor.


Sound Reduction Cushion

Laminate Flooring Sound Reduction CushionCushion underlay for laminate and luxury vinyl flooring must be firm and dense, to reduce joint movement and reduce sound transmission.

LAMINATE flooring requires a pad underlay, to reduce noise underfoot and absorb minor floor imperfections.

LUXURY VINYL click systems do not require cushion underlay, but one may be used to reduce sound transmission rates between floors.


Scratching & Indentation

No laminate or luxury vinyl flooring is “scratch proof” or “indentation proof”. Today’s finishes are durable and scratch resistant, but under certain conditions all surfaces will scratch. Scratch resistant surfaces such as aluminum oxide or ceramic bead provide additional scratch resistance – but they too can be scratched or dented. It is important to match the proper product to area of use.

Some precautions can be taken to reduce scratching and indentations such as:

  • Use chair pads under roller chains
  • Use felt chair protectors of adequate size (usually 1.5″) under chair legs
  • Use entry mats at outside entrances to reduce tracked in dirt

Radiant Heat

When manufacturers refer to “radiant heated” floors, they are referring to “in floor” heating systems. They exclude floor “warming” mats or wire systems.


Glue Down

LAMINATE flooring is designed for floating installations only. DO NOT glue to the floor.

LUXURY VINYL products are designed to be either glued down or floated. It is important to:

  • Use the recommended adhesive
  • Apply the proper amount of adhesive
  • Allow proper “open time”
  • Read the installation instructions to determine whether the product can be glued down or floated

What Does Commercial Mean

Commercial is separated into two categories: Heavy Commercial & Light Commercial

Each manufacturer has their own definition of light and heavy commercial applications. Always consult the manufacturers written recommendations.

HEAVY COMMERCIAL common examples

  • Malls
  • Hospitals
  • Grocery stores
  • Rolling traffic areas

LIGHT COMMERCIAL common examples

  • Clothing/retail stores
  • No rolling traffic areas
  • Dorm rooms
  • Multi family housing
 

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