Choosing flooring for your house is a challenging task. There are several factors, such as style, price, availability, and climate that make it one of the most important and difficult design decisions you’ll make. If you happen to live in Florida, that decision just got a lot more difficult. Because of the heat, humidity, and beaches Florida is famous for, the types of flooring that will work in your Florida home are vastly reduced.
So, what makes Florida so different? The extreme climate is why most traditional flooring just won’t cut it in the sunshine state.
What Makes Florida’s Flooring Needs Unique?
The majority of Florida is considered to be subtropical, while its southern regions experience tropical climates. The state is surrounded by water on three sides and the interior parts of the state have a great deal of water. Basically, Florida weather is almost always hot and humid.
Even though visitors love the heat and the beaches, and us residents enjoy our tropical climate, there’s one major drawback – extreme weather. Florida has the highest amount of thunderstorm days per year at 80+. Additionally, tornadoes and hurricanes touchdown regularly.
Those weather systems and the frequency at which they exist in Florida, significantly impact construction, housing, and flooring. Therefore, building materials in Florida must be engineered to handle extreme weather systems. If you’re changing your floors or putting floors down in a new build, what should you choose, what should you avoid, and why?
The Best Wood Flooring in Florida: Engineered Wood
What is engineered wood?
Engineered hardwood floors are manufactured boards made up of several different recycled layers of wood. Typically, each board has five to seven layers, which are compressed and glued together creating a stronger and more moisture resistant board. The top layer is made of a more durable type of wood, –oak, maple, hickory– that will hold up to wear and tear and can even be sanded.
Because of the top layer, engineered wood floors look very similar to solid hardwoods. This gives Floridians a chance to have elegant, refined and classy flooring, while also adding a great deal of value to a home that must endure Florida’s extreme climate.
Installing hardwood in your home can also result in up to 80% ROI reflected in the value of your home. This makes hardwood valuable in more ways than one for Florida homeowners.
Originally, engineered wood floors were developed for use where solid hardwoods could not be installed. On the first floor of a home built on a concrete slab or in a basement or over radiant flooring systems. But engineered wood flooring tech has grown tremendously over the last 15 years, and the products can be used just about anywhere, including places where you would expect to find plank floors, and sometimes even kitchens.
What makes engineered hardwoods a good choice for Florida residences is that they’re specifically designed to resist moisture and extreme temperatures, the two biggest problems you’ll face when choosing flooring. They won’t expand and contrast like a solid hardwood, which means they won’t buckle or crack during a typical Florida summer. They’re relatively easy to install, and they come in a large variety of styles. That is why an engineered wood floor is so highly recommended for a Florida environment.
The Most Popular Florida Flooring: Ceramic or Porcelain Tile
What is ceramic and porcelain flooring?
Both porcelain and ceramic tiles are man-made clay tiles that are constructed by being fired at a very high temperature to reduce the water content of the clay and allow it to be shaped.
Porcelain is made from white clay, sand, and feldspar making it slightly more resistant to water. This makes it a harder, more dense tile. While this makes porcelain more durable than other tiles, it can make it brittle and harder to cut. Unfortunately, porcelain comes in limited colors and styles.
Ceramic tiles are made with red, brown, or white clay. This tile is softer, easier to work with, and less expensive than porcelain. Ceramic tile come in hundreds of new and classic styles.
Tile is very water resistant, which is why it is historically used in kitchens, restrooms, laundry rooms, and other humid or messy spaces. In Florida, tile can be found throughout the entire home. There’s a wide variety of styles and colors and finishes; tile can be used on concrete slabs, in bedrooms, basements or on upper levels and terraces. There’s even a type of tile that’s designed to look like a wood plank – if you want the look of wood and the practicality of tile.
Tile flooring repels water exceptionally well. When water or condensation hits ceramic or porcelain tile, instead of soaking into it, the water just beads up. This means that these floors will absorb next to no moisture, even on days with the highest humidity, or where water is frequently found.
Laminate flooring is a synthetic material, made mostly from melamine resin and fiberboard, constructed to imitate the look of natural wood with a top “wear” layer that makes it very durable. Laminates used to look as if they were made of plastic because the materials were cheap and the process was unrefined. However, today laminate is a great flooring option, as it remains inexpensive, durable and much more advanced than when it was first introduced into the market.
There is a bit of a debate here. Because of the laminating and compressing process by which this product is made, it can be quite resistant to moisture. The issue though, is that a lot of that resistance depends on how the floor is installed.
If your laminate is installed with a proper vapor barrier, underlayment, tight seams, and on a dry, sealed subfloor, it can actually be nearly waterproof.
However, because it is a floating floor there is a gap between the subfloor and the laminate, and moisture can get trapped there, especially if you live in a high moisture climate. If the floor was not installed properly, that moisture coming from the ground and building up below the laminate can leak out through the seams of the floor and the bottom layers of the floor can swell, ruining the floor.
There is a new, high-pressure laminate that was developed for high humidity climates.. It’s made from a special glue to help reduce water moisture absorption. This product would be perfect for a Florida residence.
Tip: Laminate works best in homes with an effective HVAC system that can remove moisture in the air efficiently and consistently.
Will Flooring Types Affects the Temperature in My Home?
It’s not surprising that summer heat is a problem for Floridians. AC units get turned down, blinds are shut, and when the electric bills come in you cringe.
But, tile flooring can actually help you cut back on the heat in your home. By not retaining heat, tiles flooring stays cool. As you walk on it your feet stay cool and in turn, you don’t feel as warm. The result? Your AC unit gets a break.
Laminate flooring is also known to not hold onto heat. Hardwood, on the other hand, is a mixture of both, holding warmth in the cooler months and staying cooler during hotter months.
What Maintenance is Needed to Care for these Floor Types?
Your new flooring will come with maintenance requirements. Whether it’s mopping or refinishing, maintenance will be dependant on the type of floors installed in your home.
Engineered Wood is cared for as you would hardwood flooring.
Use only a damp cloth or mop to clean, only using cleaners specified for engineered wood
Practice daily dusting and sweeping to avoid buildup
Avoid scratches in your flooring by keeping pads under furniture and pets nails trimmed
Wipe up spills immediately to prevent staining
Close your blinds to avoid direct sunlight damaging the wood
Porcelain or Ceramic Tile doesn’t require any intensive maintenance if cared for properly.
Avoid using abrasive cleaners to prevent damage
Sweep, mop, and vacuum every few days, if not daily
Use vinegar and baking soda solutions to cut through grime
Apply sealer yearly if unglazed porcelain
Laminate Flooring shouldn’t be exposed to large amounts of water when cleaning to avoid buckling in the flooring.
Avoid use of steam mops, wet mops, and polishing or buffering treatments
Use cleaners made specifically for laminate floor care
Remove sticky substances by hardening with ice then cleaning with a plastic scraper, taking care not to press too hard
How Long Can I Expect these Flooring Types to Last in Florida?
New flooring is an investment that will steer your interior design choices and cleaning habits for years to come. But how many years exactly? It all depends on the type of flooring you have installed. Keep in mind that all estimates are based on proper care and maintenance of your flooring.
Engineered Wood – 20 to 100 Years
Porcelain or Ceramic Tile – 20 to 50 Years
Laminate Flooring – 15 to 25 Years
Other Types of Flooring:
These options are not the only ones, but the top-recommended for Florida homes. Other flooring options include:
If you have any questions about what kind of flooring is best for your Florida house, whether it’s a condo or apartment, beachfront or inland, new build or renovation, contact us. We’ve been supplying flooring in Florida for decades and our expert staff will help you choose exactly the right product to fit your design and location.
Considering a floor replacement? Contact us for a free estimate.
Installing a new floor involves a lot of prep work, including removing the old tiles. While you could just cover up the old tiles with the new ones, removing the tiles instead has a lot of advantages. These include checking on the health of your subfloor and seeing if there are any mold issues.
If you completely remove the tile before starting any new flooring project, you’ll be able to see if there are any problems that need to be addressed before you cover them up again. You can make any necessary repairs or deal with mold instead of letting the problem get worse.
Can I Remove Tile Myself?
Removing tile yourself is a labor-intensive project, but it can save you thousands of dollars that you would have spent on hiring a professional. It’s important to have everything you need and to do it right in order to avoid damaging your subfloor (or the tiles, if you want to repurpose them). If you feel up to a DIY project, then self-removal is a good way to go.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Professional?
The cost to hire a professional to do it for you can add to the cost of a floor installation significantly, sometimes up to $3,000. The cost depends on the size of the room. On top of the costs of the labor for removing the tile, there are also the haul-away costs. Total, it can average between $2 and $5 per square foot of tile removal.
Equipment for Tile Removal
Before you get started on any tile removal project, it’s important to make sure you have all of the proper equipment ahead of time. This includes safety gear to protect yourself and others as well as the tools to do the actual tile removal.
Removing tile can be a tricky business and it’s important to take all safety precautions to make sure that you do it safely. This means investing in safety glasses to protect your eyes, a dust mask so that you won’t inhale dust, and leather gloves to protect your hands. Safety gear should be worn by anyone else who comes into the work area.
The tools you’ll need to take out the tile are a paint scraper, floor scraper, chisel, and a drop sheet to contain the dust. The tools will help you scrape the tile and completely clear all materials from the floor so you can start fresh. Depending on how your tile was installed in the first place, you may need a hammer to break up the tile. To remove the underlayment, you’ll need a screw gun, a roofing rake, and a flat shovel.
Tile Removal Steps
Step 1: Removing the Trim
Before you start removing the tile, the first step is to remove all trim and baseboards from around the room. Be careful with all of the materials that you remove so that it can be easily reinstalled when you’ve finished removing the tile and have installed your new floor. Also, cover any vents that are in the room so that dust doesn’t get into them (and from there the rest of your house).
Step 2: Removing the Tile
Once you’ve got all trimmings out of the way, it’s time to actually remove the tile. This process is trickier if you want to preserve the tiles than if you’re just replacing them. If you don’t care about saving the tiles, you can get started by smashing them with a hammer.
Start by breaking up a single tile with the edge of a hammer. Use a chisel to remove the rest of that tile and then to remove the tiles near it. You’ll have to break up at least one tile, but if you’re careful about prying up the ones next to it, you can preserve the rest. You can use the claw end of the hammer and they should come up easily. If you don’t care about saving the tile, then you can just break them all up with the hammer, if you find that easier than prying them up.
If your tile is adhered to the floor with cement, preserving the tile may not be an option. If the tiles won’t come up easily, then break them up with the hammer and use the floor scraper to remove it.
Step 3: Removing the Underlayment
Once you’ve completely removed all of the tiles, check out the status of the underlayment. You can use the hammer to remove the mortar from the underlayment, but depending on the state of the underlayment, it may need to be replaced. Adhesive removal can be challenging, so it may be worth your time and money to remove and replace the underlayment. If it’s old, it may be deteriorating anyway.
Remove the underlayment by first removing any screws that may be keeping it attached to the floor. Then, use a roofing rake or a flat shovel to pry up the edges of the underlayment.
Step 4: Cleaning the Subfloor
Once the underlayment has been removed, it’s time to clean the subfloor. Scrape any remaining adhesive from the subfloor and then clean up any screws, bits of tile, or anything else that’s on the subfloor. Check it out for any mold or damage that might need attention. Make any necessary repairs or cleanings.
Before installing a new floor, the subfloor should be completely clear of debris, clean, and in good shape. You don’t want to cover up damage or mold that might just get worse over time.
How Can I Make Sure My Floor Doesn’t Have Asbestos?
Some older tile floors were installed using asbestos, which is dangerous because it can get into your lungs and cause diseases. The only foolproof method to determine whether or not your floor is to have a professional test the area for asbestos fibers. However, you can look at the size of the tiles that were on the floor (and for an outline of older tiles underneath). If the tiles are nine inches on each side, that’s a sign that there may be asbestos involved, as it was commonly used with tiles of that size.
How Can I Dispose of the Old Tile?
If you had your tile professionally removed, the installer would charge a fee for its removal and then handle that for you. If you remove the tile yourself, you’ll also have to dispose of the tile yourself. Old tiles aren’t usually recyclable with normal recycling. You can take it to your local recycling center after calling them first to make sure that they can take it. If your tiles are in good shape, you could donate them to someone else who may need them. There are community construction projects that may be grateful for a donation of some free tile.
What Might Require a Professional?
If you discover asbestos, the cleanup and removal must be done by a professional. It can be dangerous to work with, so it’s essential that you call professionals to handle asbestos. If your subfloor is damaged or has mold, you may want to consider hiring a professional to repair it so that you know it’s stable and fully clean before installing new tile on top of it.
Linoleum and vinyl are both popular options for flooring. They’re cheaper to purchase and install than hardwood floors and can replicate the look of hardwood, stone, or other materials. But which one is right for you?
Linoleum vs. Vinyl
Linoleum and vinyl are both very versatile materials that can work well in almost any area of your home. They’re the two flooring materials that are most commonly compared to each other. So how do the two compare?
Vinyl is generally less expensive than linoleum, but not by much. The average price of vinyl is $1-7 per sq. ft., while for linoleum it’s $2-8. Some styles of vinyl will be more expensive than some styles of linoleum.
Expected Lifespan and Durability
Linoleum is generally expected to last between 20 and 40 years, while vinyl has a lifespan of half that at 10-20 years. Vinyl may not last as long as linoleum, but it is cheaper to install and therefore also cheaper to replace than linoleum.
Both linoleum and vinyl are very easy to maintain. Single tiles can easily be replaced on either type of flooring. Any damage can also be simply patched without having to replace the entire tile.
Linoleum lasts longer and is more durable to regular wear-and-tear.
Vinyl is far more resistant to water than linoleum. Vinyl is almost water-proof.
Both types of flooring are very versatile when it comes to your options. There are a wide variety of styles and patterns for both vinyl and linoleum floors. Vinyl is more common than linoleum, however, and may have more color options.
Easy to Clean
Cleaning is easier for vinyl than for linoleum. Vinyl requires only basic sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming. Linoleum requires periodic waxing, an annual protective coating, and in addition, may be sensitive to certain cleaners, so you’ll need to make sure your cleaner is appropriate for linoleum before use.
Vinyl is easier than linoleum to install and can be easily DIY’d. Because linoleum is more susceptible to damage from water than vinyl, it’s best installed by a professional unless you really know what you’re doing with a water sealant coating.
Linoleum is best suited to a professional installation. A professional can prevent future water damage in your home by ensuring that the required water sealant coating is done properly. Linoleum, if not properly installed, is at risk for water damage.
Vinyl is easy to install yourself. There are two methods: snap-together tiles or gluing them down.
In the Kitchen
Depending on your needs for your kitchen, either vinyl or linoleum can work well. Vinyl is more water-proof, but linoleum is more durable and can withstand more wear and tear. If your kitchen sees a lot of foot traffic, linoleum may be the better option.
In the Bathroom
While either type of flooring can work well in a bathroom, and which is best does depend on your needs, vinyl often wins out over linoleum. The bathroom sees a lot of water that can get dripped onto the floor, so vinyl’s water-resistance is a point in vinyl’s favor.
How Can You Tell the Difference Between Vinyl and Linoleum?
To tell the difference between the two types of flooring visually, you’ll need to look at the pattern on the floor. On vinyl floors, the pattern is embossed on the surface. Any holes or damage to a vinyl floor will interrupt the pattern and therefore be easily visible. A pattern on a linoleum floor is carried all the way through the material and will still be visible even through holes or other wear and tear on the floor.
Does Either Type of Flooring Need a Wax Seal?
Vinyl does not require a wax seal, but linoleum does. Linoleum requires a protective coating that needs to be reapplied annually in addition to needing a wax seal periodically.
Does Either Have Asbestos?
Both linoleum and vinyl may have asbestos, especially if they are older floors. If your floor does have asbestos in it, you’ll need to be very careful when removing or repairing it, as tearing it out or sanding it could release asbestos into your house, which is dangerous.
If your floor was installed in the 1980s or earlier, it’s important to check for asbestos before performing any maintenance or repair to your floor. If your floor is darker in color, it has a greater risk for containing asbestos.
To eliminate all doubt, you can send a sample of your floor to a laboratory for testing. To safely cut samples, make sure you’re wearing a mask. Most labs will require three samples, which you’ll need to seal in a plastic bag in addition to using duct tape to seal the area of the floor the samples came from. Alternatively, you can use a home testing kit.
If your floor does test positively for asbestos, it’s best to hire a professional. Depending on where you live, the law may require you to hire a professional to remove the asbestos. The primary danger of asbestos comes from its fibers becoming airborne, where they can be inhaled, causing diseases. An asbestos-abatement professional can safely remove the asbestos from your home.
Padding usually isn’t included in the price of the carpet. Some companies may include the padding for free, but the cost of the padding is usually made up elsewhere, either in the cost of the carpet or in the cost of the installation. Padding by itself usually averages in cost between $0.35 and $0.65, but it can be a good idea to plan for as much as $1.00 to $1.20 per foot, depending on the type of padding, to make sure that you enough in your budget for the padding.
What Are the Different Types of Carpet Padding?
Carpet padding comes in a variety of materials that vary in price and intended use. The different types of padding include:
How Are Carpet Prices Calculated?
The entire cost of the carpet can be calculated by multiplying the length times the width of the room to determine the number of square feet. Multiply the total number of square feet by the cost per square foot of the carpet. If padding isn’t included, multiply the cost of the padding by the total number of square feet, and then add the result to the total cost per square foot of the carpet. Do the same for any installation costs.
It’s a good idea to multiply your total square feet by 1.1. This will allow extra carpet for cuts.
What Factors Impact the Price?
The factors that impact the price of the carpet include the following:
Weight in ounces
Carpet manufacturers often use the weight of the carpet as the primary indicator of price, with heaver carpets costing more per square foot than lighter ones. The strength of the carpet fibers is also a major factor, which depends on the carpet materials. Carpet fibers are usually made out of nylon or polyester, but because nylon is slightly stronger, it’s more expensive.
What Is the Least Expensive Type of Carpet?
Olefin (polypropylene) is one of the least expensive fibers that is used to make carpet. It isn’t very resilient, however, unless it’s in looped form, which can help strengthen it. Olefin fiber carpet is thus generally recommended only for areas that don’t get a lot of foot traffic.
What Is the Most Expensive Type of Carpet?
The most expensive type of carpet is carpet with wool fibers. This is because wool is the only natural fiber used for carpet. All other types of fibers are synthetic.
How Much Carpet do I Need?
To find out how much carpet you need, first, you need to know exactly how large the area you want to carpet will be. If you’re carpeting only one room, measure the length and the width of the room. If you’re carpeting a larger area of your home, then it’s still a good idea to measure room by room.
Once you have the measurements, multiply the length times the width to determine the square footage of the room. Add all of the rooms square footage together to get the total number of square feet you’ll need. Multiply that total by 1.1 to add 10% for cuts.
To make the calculations easier, you can use an online calculator to help you figure out how much carpet you need.
How Can I Measure My Room Accurately?
To accurately measure your room, you’ll need either a tape measure or a laser distance measurer. If your room is exactly rectangular and has no doorways or closets, then your job is easy – just measure the length and the width and then multiply them together to get the square footage of the room.
Most rooms aren’t quite so simple, however. For any doorways, measure from the wall opposite the doorframe to the middle of the doorway. If your room isn’t 100% rectangular, use the longest measurement possible.
It’s best to get your room professionally measured. Carpets come in 12-foot rolls and, depending on the size of the room, may need to be seamed. The carpet roll can’t just be turned 90 degrees to fit because then the seam would show. To make sure you have enough carpet, you may want to round up to the nearest five inches.
Do I Need To Buy More than My Measurement?
It’s important to buy more than the exact measurement of the room. During the installation process, you will need to cut some strips off of the carpet, so having extra will leave you room to do that and still carpet the entire room. It’s usually recommended to multiply your room’s total square footage by 1.1 in order to add 10% more. This will leave enough room for cuts.
How Can I Install My Own Carpet?
It is possible to install your own carpet. However, if you’re not experienced with carpet installation, it may be a good idea to hire professionals to install it for you to ensure a good installation.
Once all preparation has been completed, you can first install the tackless strips against the walls. Don’t put tackless strips in door frames or anywhere people may step, since stepping on them can hurt. Then, you can install the carpet padding, stapling together any pad seams and then trimming the padding around the edges so it neatly fits against the wall.
Once the padding is down, you can prepare the carpet for installation by trimming it down to size. Make sure to leave at least 3 inches on the sides so you’ve got some extra room. Then, you can lay down the carpet. Make any additional trims that you need to (but keep that extra three inches!) and then glue the seams together.
Attach the carpet to the tackless strips along the wall. Then trim the excess carpet away. You may need to stretch the carpet to ensure that it’s flat across the floor and reaches the tackless strips on the other side of the room. If there are any areas, such as doorways, where there are no tackless strips, then fasten a binder bar to the carpet to cover the edge. Make any last trims you need to and your carpet has been installed!
What Preparation Is Needed Before Installation?
The first step is to move everything, including furniture, out of the room. Then, have any old carpeting removed. Some carpet companies will remove and haul away the old carpet. The next steps involve clearing the way for the new carpet. Thoroughly clean the subfloor and remove all doors from their frames so they don’t get in the way.
How Much Does it Cost to Have Carpet Professionally Installed?
To have a carpet professionally installed, the average price is $0.50 per square foot. Some installers have minimum prices of $200, so if you are installing carpet in a smaller room, you may end up paying more than the average price per square foot for the installation. The total average cost of a carpet installation ranges from $980 to $1,680
Is Installation More Expensive With More Expensive Carpet?
The installation costs are generally not connected to the cost of the carpet. A more expensive carpet shouldn’t be any more expensive to install than a cheaper carpet.
How Should I Take Care of My Carpet?
Taking proper care of your carpet will help it last longer, getting more use out of the price. Cleaning it regularly is important, but how you clean can also affect the life expectancy of your carpet. When vacuuming, for example, make sure that the vacuum is set at the correct height for your carpet. Doing a thorough deep clean or hiring a professional cleaning service periodically will also help ensure that your carpet lasts longer.
Installing laminate floors on your own can save you a lot of money, and it’s definitely the easiest flooring option for this project.
How much can I save by installing my floor myself?
The current going rate for laminate flooring installation (as of Jan. 2019) is approximately $1.75/sq. ft. Calculate that rate with the square footage that you’re wanting to cover and you’ll probably be surprised how quickly it can add up. Choosing to install laminate yourself for a 150 sq. ft. room may save you between $250-$300.
How long does it take to install laminate flooring?
The answer to this question obviously depends on the scale of your project as well as your pace while doing it. However, most jobs can be turned into a rather quick weekend project. Get the whole family involved to significantly speed things up.
General Tips for Installing Laminate Flooring Yourself
Chances are you haven’t done this before, so don’t get frustrated at the start. Once you get going, you’ll start to get the hang of it, and it will become much easier. Relax and have fun with it. You’re making a beautiful, comfortable, and financially smart addition to your home!
What supplies do I need to buy?
As you might expect, you need a few more supplies than just the laminate itself. You should also be sure to pick up underlayment (a.k.a. underflooring, cushion, moisture barrier), transition strips, and either baseboards or quarter-rounds. Don’t forget you will need a few hand tools to complete the job as well.
What tools do I need to install flooring?
Here’s a list of everything you’ll need to make installing your new laminate flooring as easy as possible:
Pull Bar/Pry Bar
Spacers (refer to laminate manufacturer’s suggested size)
Laminate Flooring Cutter or Miter Saw
Tips on purchasing laminate flooring
How much laminate should I purchase?
We generally recommend buying 10% more than the total square footage of laminate needed to cover the areas for flooring. Total square footage can be found by multiplying the length by the width of the room or area in feet. During the installation process, you’ll be cutting the laminate to fit up against your wall and door jambs; this means that not all of the planks will fit perfectly, and you will have leftover pieces of scrap laminate from your cuts.
For jobs with a diagonal or herringbone pattern, we recommend using around a 15% waste factor. This is because every piece of laminate that touches the wall/door jambs will need to be cut and this creates a higher waste factor.
Why do I need an underlayment/cushion?
Underlayment (a.k.a underflooring, cushion, moisture barrier) is an absolute necessity when laying your new laminate flooring. Typical subfloors consist of either concrete or plywood on stilted construction. Adding an underlayment cushion with a moisture barrier to your laminate flooring provides the following:
Maintains Warranty – installing laminate without underlayment will void your manufacturer’s warranty
Creates Moisture Barrier – protecting your flooring from moisture that naturally rises from the concrete/wood subflooring below
Reduces Noise – sound deadening your flooring so that it doesn’t create reverberated noise from the two hard objects (laminate and subfloor) grinding/knocking together when you walk
Softer underfoot – underlayment’s padded quality absorbs more shock while you are walking throughout your home
Longer product life – preserves your flooring over time and allows for a significantly longer lifespan
What are transition strips?
Transition strips are what you place in between your new flooring and where it meets with pre-existing flooring, step downs or exterior doorways. Not only does it create a cleaner visual between different flooring types and doorways, but it also leaves room for the natural expansion and contraction of the laminate flooring. When laminate is installed next to the wall, you can cover it with a baseboard or a quarter-round as discussed further in this article.
Do I need to remove my baseboards when installing flooring?
When you install your laminate flooring, you must make sure to leave an expansion gap between it and your walls to allow for expansion and contraction (please see manufacture’s recommend expansion gap size). Obviously, a gap in between the flooring and your walls isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing look. To cover this gap, you can install your baseboards (new or previously used), quarter round or shoe moldings on the bottom of your walls.
You have three options when it comes to the status of your baseboards while installing your new laminate floor:
Option 1: Carefully remove your existing baseboards and save them to reinstall after you’ve replaced your floors.
Option 2: Remove your baseboards and install new ones after you’ve replaced your floors. Most commonly, homeowners will replace them with a slightly higher baseboard to cover previous indentations and for an updated look.
Option 3: Keep the baseboards on while you install the new floors and add a quarter-round after to cover the expansion gap in between.
IMPORTANT: Acclimate your laminate
Laminate flooring is naturally prone to expansion and contraction with sudden changes in temperature. Typically, the warehouse or store that you get your flooring from is going to be a different temperature than your home. So, it’s vitally important to acclimate your flooring to your home for at least 48 hours before beginning your project. Simply leave the flooring in the boxes in an out-of-the-way location inside your home for these two days to allow for the expansion or contraction of the flooring, and then you’ll be ready to go with no issues in the future.
Which way do I lay my laminate floors?
There’s no right or wrong way to lay your laminate floors. You can do it any way that you’d like. However, the most common way is to run the planks parallel to the longest wall in the room or parallel to the largest main window in the room. This also often correlates with running the planks in the direction that you walk when you enter the room or the length of the room. Don’t forget that diagonal patterns are also an option, but remember to buy additional laminate for a greater waste factor, typically 15% more than the actual dimensions of your room.
Shop our wide selection of laminate flooring
Steps and Tips to Install Laminate Flooring
1: Measure the area
Before coming into our store to purchase your favorite laminate style, measure the area of your home where you want to install it. Get as precise a measurement as you can, and be sure to account for doorways and closets if the flooring is going into different rooms of your house. Also make sure to take linear feet measurements if quarter round, shoe molding or replacement baseboards will be purchased. You will also want the linear feet distances where any transitions will be placed (T-Molds, Thresholds, Reducers, and Stair nose).
2: Purchase the laminate, underlayment, transition strips and supplies needed
Visit our showroom, and one of our flooring experts will help you review your measurements and answer any questions you may have. We will also happily prepare a quote showing all product cost broken down for your review and approval.
3: Let the flooring acclimate for 48 hours
Laminate flooring is naturally prone to expansion and contraction when exposed to different temperatures. The warehouse that your flooring is shipped in from is undoubtedly a different temperature than your home, so it’s extremely important that you give the laminate time to adjust. If you don’t take the time to allow your laminate to acclimate, your flooring will likely expand and create bumps and ridges. Laminate with insufficient room may risk “teepeeing” & damaging your floor
4: Tear up your current flooring and remove baseboards (optional)
You have a few different options when it comes to the state of your baseboards during the installation process. It’s simply an aesthetic choice, so pick whichever option suits your style the best.
Option 1: Carefully remove your existing baseboards and save them to reinstall after you’ve replaced your floors.
Option 2: Remove your baseboards and install new ones after you’ve replaced your floors. Most commonly, homeowners will replace them with a slightly higher baseboard to cover previous indentations and for an updated look.
Option 3: Keep the baseboards on while you install the new floors and add a quarter-round or Shoe molding after to cover the expansion gap in between.
Typically, the quarter-rounds/shoe moldings are the easiest and cheapest way to handle it, but some people don’t like the look of the added quarter-rounds to their baseboards. It’s an aesthetic choice. Just make sure that you decide what you’d like to do before you actually start installing the new laminate or you’re going to be stuck with the quarter-round option.
5: Clean your subfloor
Before you start laying anything down, take a broom and dustpan and sweep the entirety of the area that you’re going to be working on. An industrial-sized vacuum or Wet-Dry works best for faster clean up. This will help keep your underlayment as healthy as possible and make working on the floor significantly easier throughout the entire project.
6: Lay down all underlayment first
The underlayment is just as important as the flooring itself. It protects your new investment from moisture and damage from the cement slab underneath. Lay it across the entirety of your work area in the horizontal direction from which you’ve chosen to install your laminate with the moisture barrier side down against the subfloor.
7: Start laying the laminate floor, cutting the pieces as you go
Once you’ve decided on which way you’d like to lay your laminate, it’s time to start laying it down. We also recommend opening several boxes at a time and dry laying the laminate first. Put spacers along the wall to create a small gap between the laminate and the wall (refer to manufacturer’s requirements) to allow for expansion gap.
Select a starting corner of the room and work from left to right putting down one piece at a time, interlocking the pieces together as you go. For the planks that don’t fit due to the wall, cut them as you go as well. We recommend saving all cut/scrap pieces until job completion, as many times they can be used in additional cut areas.
TIP: if possible, it is often easiest to start at the door of the room so that the first plank can easily be slid under the door jamb. You may want/ to undercut the door jambs to accommodate the height of your new laminate flooring while helping to hide cut ends that can’t be cover by base or quarter round.
8: Install Your Baseboards, Quarter Round or Shoe Molding
Once you’re done laying your new laminate, it’s time to revert to the choice you made in step 4. If you left your baseboards on, install your quarter-rounds onto your existing baseboards. If you removed your baseboards, reinstall them or install your new ones.
TIP: Remember to always measure twice so you only have to cut once and can reduce your waste amounts. Ideally, depending on the size of the job you’re completing, you always want to have some remaining full planks (or full boxes) that you can store to use as replacements later if needed – accidents happen. Also, laminates can change through dye lots and production dates, so a perfect match after the initial purchase cannot be guaranteed. So, it’s nice to have spare leftover in case you only need to replace a plank or two.
Lastly but most importantly, make sure to review all of your manufacturer’s installation and warranty information prior to completing the laminate installation. Sometimes manufacturers are able to provide you with additional tips and tricks for working with their products that may aid in an easier completion.
“I used Flooring HQ for ceramic tile in my New Smyrna Beach condo, for hardwood in my Orlando home, and for laminate in my Orlando office. Every installation was magnificent! The selection was great, and they did everything they said they would, at competitive prices.”
“Thanks for the free estimate HQ! We couldn’t be happier with the new hardwood floor in our kitchen. Your customer service is top notch and you definitely took care of us with the quote you gave us! HIGHLY recommend!”
“Very good sales people, service and pricing. Exceeded expectations.”
“I bought carpet and tile from Flooring HQ for my kitchen and downstairs bedroom and hall area. Their selection was great and the price was even better. The salespeople were really knowledgeable and were able to answer all my questions and concerns. I highly recommend Flooring HQ.”
“I’ve purchased from Flooring HQ for many years. Our latest project just getting rid of all carpet in the house and replacing it with wood floors is now complete. We have always received great quality at a fair price.”