Laminate floors are a project a moderately handy do-it-yourself homeowner can install, especially if working in a standard square or rectangular room. There are certain applications and situations that can cause problems in a laminate install, and may cause difficulties for the average handyman. Occasionally, this can turn the installation into a major headache and, in extreme cases, may require a professional installer.
Uneven Walls - While few walls are exactly straight, laminate flooring installers may encounter variations up to several inches. When beginning the install laminate, run a chalk line from corner to corner on the starter wall and cut the first row of laminate to fit evenly along the wall.
Exposed Pipes - If an exposed pipe protrudes from the floor, a laminate plank must be cut in half lengthwise. The opening for the pipe is then cut by making a half-circle cutout on each plank piece. The plank is then laid into place and the cut is glued together. Include expansion space of1/4 inch around the pipe when making the cuts.
Special Cuts - Odd angles and obstacles can prove to be a challenge when installing laminate floors. For example, installation in a kitchen with a center island will require installation up to the front of the island. The laminate will then be split around the sides, whereupon reaching the back of the island the laminate boards must match up again evenly in order to proceed along the rest of the floor.
Chipping - Laminate flooring is prone to chipping during installation. Work carefully when cutting and laying the laminate so the edges are not chipped. Likewise, the outside edges are vulnerable until the installation is complete and the end pieces are installed.
Doorways - Doorways must be undercut with an undercut saw in order to install the laminate around the door frame. The edge of the laminate plank will be under the door frame, with the required expansion joint hidden from view.
Transitions - Transitioning from the end of the laminate install to rooms with other flooring or previously laid laminate will require the proper transition piece to finish the edge of flooring while maintaining the integrity of the expansion joint. Typically, T-molding is used when the flooring is the same height, hard surface reducer is used when the adjoining room is of a different height, carpet reducer when meeting carpet and stairnose on steps and at the top of a stairwell.