Installing laminate faux wood planks may be the answer to achieving a floor that looks like real wood, especially if you're on a budget or working under time constraints. This project is perfect for a small space such as a bathroom or even a small kitchen. It may not be at the top of the list of the easiest do-it-yourself projects, but it's not too far off if you follow these simple steps below.
Measure Your Room
Flooring is sold by the square foot, so the first thing you'll need to do is measure the room that you're laying the new floor in so you know how much flooring you'll need. There are many flooring calculators online that you can use to help you figure out your total footage, but the formula is also simple enough to just do yourself with your own calculator.
The calculation is Width x Area = Total Square Feet.
This means that you just have to measure the length and width of the room. Now you multiply these two numbers in total inches to get the square footage.
Since you're doing a wood floor, you'll need to add at least 5% and as much as 15% to that number to account for waste such as accidental cuts, bad planks that need to be discarded, and any future repairs. It's also wise to account for extra because of how the planks are laid. Since they are not laid directly along with one another like tiles are, you'll end up doing more cutting and more discarding.
Plan Your Layout
Before you permanently put your planks in place, it's best to lay them out to make sure you have enough, and that you figure out which direction you want them in. They don't have to be perfectly laid out -- just loosely put them down to give yourself an idea of what you're going to do and to see just how many planks you may be using.
If you're doing the floor in a bathroom or kitchen, a little extra prep work is needed. You'll first need to remove all of your appliances in the kitchen, and if it's the bathroom, your toilet should be taken out. You can work around the toilet, but your flooring won't look as good when you're done.
Tip: If you're removing your toilet and it's old, you should consider replacing it with a more efficient water-saving toilet. Many water companies offer rebates on these toilets, and even before rebates, they are often found for less than $125. Also, before you remove your toilet, make sure you have a replacement wax seal ready.
Wash and Prep the Floor Surface
If you're laying your floor planks directly on top of old laminate flooring, then all you will need to do is wash the flooring down. You can do this with a little warm water and vinegar or whatever floor cleaner you use. Make sure you get up all the dirt and then dry it well.
If you're going over another surface the prep may be more involved and you'll have to follow the instructions that should come with your laminate flooring. For example, if you're laying laminate flooring directly on top of a plywood subfloor, it's recommended that you first lay down some underlayment paper or underlayment pads. Underlayment paper, or foam, is made of black felt material and will help keep moisture from transferring in or out of the subfloor. It can be stapled down to the plywood, and seams can be joined with duct tape.
Tip: Some laminate flooring is sold with the underlayment already attached to the back of each plank. But it's still wise to lay down a moisture barrier even if the flooring has underlayment attached.
Many laminate flooring planks are self-adhesive, meaning they are already prepared with glue and you simply peel the backing off and lay them down onto the floor. Even if you get this style, however, you should still consider getting a flooring glue, especially when doing a bathroom or kitchen. You won't need much -- it can be spread lightly and thinly and still keep it from causing issues later.
To lay down floor planks, start in the center of the room. You can either eyeball this or you can lay out a chalk line or tape and stretch them from the center of each wall to the center of the wall across from it. Where the two intercede is your center point.
Start by laying the planks in a pyramid pattern so that they will not just lay up totally aligned next to one another. Spread a thin, light layer of floor glue where your plank is going to go, and lay the plank down. Use your sponge and press it firmly into place.
You now will lay your second plank down. You're making a pyramid shape, remember, so just spread your glue starting at about the center of the last plank (below or above) and then lay it in place. Make sure to butt it up as close as you can to the first one.
Do this again with the third plank, placing it next to that second plank from the center and out of the one you began with, and you'll see your pyramid beginning. You won't need to keep working at a pyramid shape throughout your floor -- this is just to help you get started. Keep working your way out to the rest of the room until all the floor is covered. Do not do the edges until the main part of the floor is done.
Because you are not laying the planks directly along with one another, you'll be cutting quite a few to create different lengths. Laminate flooring planks are usually easy to cut -- just make sure to score them on each side with your razor knife and then make a clean cut. If you're not sure if it's straight or not, use a metal ruler or other straight edge to help.
Tip: If you have something irregular in your path that you need to cut around, first lay down newspaper around it to make a pattern. Then you can cut the notch, or whatever shape you're needing to cut, by laying the pattern on top of the laminated plank.
Clean up the Excess Glue
Once you have the planks all laid down, go over them with your slightly wet sponge, making sure they're all firmly in place and butted up against one another as tightly as you'd like them. Use warm water and squeeze it out often to get any excess glue that may come up through the seams.
Add a Finishing Touch
Your final step is an optional one, but it's one that adds a nice finishing touch. Add wood putty to the cracks between each plank. You can get the wood putty in the color of your laminate flooring and it can be added as soon as you've completed the floor, or you can do it after a day or two after it has had time to settle.
To apply the putty, just follow the directions on the product. Usually, you add a little water and press it into place using a putty knife. You can wipe it up with your slightly wet sponge immediately, or after it dries.