Step-by-Step Guide to Laying Formica Laminate Flooring
By Dani Wales
Whether you’re renovating, looking to add value to a property, just “freshening up”, or even building from scratch there are two key elements that generally have the biggest impact for a relatively small investment, being a fresh coat of paint and new flooring.
While a fresh coat of paint can liven up a room and completely change the look and feel of it, new flooring is generally the cherry on top when looking to add instant wow factor and potentially increase the value of your property.
Last year my partner (Foreboy Dan) and I helped my mum out with a renovation project on an investment property located in Townsville, North Queensland. Now if you want to know the full ins and outs of the project you can read more about it here, but in summary this place could have almost qualified as a knock down. It had suffered substantial abuse for a number of years by former tenants, and a prior (and very dodgy) renovation had left significant structural issues and to be honest, I’m not sure how the property ever passed council/surveyor inspections.
It was a big job and almost every surface required attention, with two new bathrooms, a new laundry and kitchen. For the kitchen and living areas, what really brought this place back to life, was a fresh coat of white paint and new timber laminate Formica Flooring in a warm “Golden Wattle” finish. We chose Formica Flooring because of the great range of decors on offer and the simplicity as a DIY option. Whilst much of work was contracted to qualified trades, Dan, myself, mum, dad and my aunty all got stuck into laying the flooring ourselves. There were two levels including five bedrooms, kitchen, dining and two living rooms that had to be completed and minimal time.
Most people shy away from laying flooring themselves for fear they’ll “mess it up” but honestly, if you do it right, it’s one of the most simple tasks and is hugely rewarding. Laying flooring yourself will literally save you thousands, which you can then spend on other areas where you’re not qualified to do the work yourself.
So today I’m going to share a very simple step-by-step guide to installing Formica Laminate Flooring.
Note- If you need a little extra help, it’s definitely worth viewing the How To video for some added guidance.
IMPORTANT Do not use a tapping block or pull bar in the installation of Formica Flooring. And under no circumstances, use a hammer to connect the planks, as this will damage the locking system.
- Prepare the sub-floor as per the Sub-Floor Preparation Guide here. It’s recommended that all skirting boards and trims be removed prior to installing Formica Flooring. However, for residential applications, skirting boards can be left in place. Quad beading/scotia can then be used to conceal the perimeter expansion gap.
- (Refer Diagram 1) Check if the bottom of the door fits over the laminate flooring through the entire arc of swing. If the door touches the plank, the bottom of the door will need to be trimmed.
- (Refer Diagram 2) Start laying the planks from the left corner (working left to right). Place the plank with the groove on both the end and side facing the wall. PLEASE NOTE The protruding long lip on the side, referred to as the tongue, should be facing you and not the wall. Insert installation spacers for the perimeter expansion gap (refer Pre-Installation Checklist to calculate the correct gap for the floor area). A minimum of 10mm is required at all times.
- (Refer Diagram 3) Connect the next plank in the row by placing the end groove into the adjoining plank’s end tongue. Repeat until you reach the end of the row. Continue to place installation spacers at 300mm intervals and when starting the next row, on the ends. Do not force planks into place as this will break the tongue.
- (Refer Diagram 4) For the last piece in the row, move the tongue side of the plank to face the tongue of the adjoining plank (so the groove on the end faces the wall). Insert the installation spacer to allow for an expansion gap, and then mark where the plank is to be cut. Once cut, the plank with the groove on the end should be connected to the end tongue of the adjoining plank (refer Diagram 3). PLEASE NOTE When using a jigsaw to cut planks, make sure you face the decorative side down. When using a handsaw, face the decorative side up. Always use a sharp fine saw tooth.
- (Refer Diagram 5) Before starting the next row, check the first row is straight with a string line or 2m straight edge ruler (align against the protruding tongue). More installation spacers may be needed to make the first row straight. If the wall is too uneven, then the line of the wall must be marked onto the plank surface and the plank then cut lengthwise to fit the profile of the wall.
- (Refer Diagram 6) To start the next row use the off cut from the previous row (ensure the minimum length is 300mm) or use a new plank. If using a new plank, ensure this is not a full plank (suggest two thirds of a plank), so that the end joins for adjacent rows are offset.
- Connect the planks of the second row at the ends and place them on top of the bottom lip of the protruding tongue (refer Diagram 7). Then lift the planks gently and slot them into the protruding tongue of the adjoining plank, working left to right (refer Diagram 8.) PLEASE NOTE You may need to use masking tape to hold down the planks already laid. Once the planks are connected in the row you can remove the tape.
- (Refer Diagram 9) When laying the last row – using the off cut from the previous row – turn the plank over with the groove side facing the wall and the decorative side facing down. Make sure you have installation spacers placed against the wall for an expansion gap, and then mark a line indicating where you need to cut. Once the plank has been cut, take the piece with the groove side (decorative side facing up) and place on top of the bottom lip of the protruding tongue and repeat Step 8.
- Fitting around the doorjambs and between the doorframe. Allow for a 10mm expansion gap when laying planks around doorjambs and fill the gap with colour sealant. Formica Flooring must be laid separately between doorframes. Allow a 20mm gap between the doorframe and cover the gap with an expansion profile.^ When installing around pipes and columns, you need to mark the centre of each pipe/column on the plank. To do this, place the plank in front of, and then alongside, the pipe/column. This should give an accurate centre point to drill holes (refer Diagram 10). To allow for an expansion gap, drill holes 10mm larger than the pipes/columns on the marked area of the plank. Next, cut the plank crossways through the centre of the drilled holes. Fit the largest piece of the plank first, then apply flooring sealant* to the smaller section of flooring (as per the instructions on the bottle). Fit the smaller section around the pipes/columns, being careful not to glue the piece to the sub floor, pipes/columns or wall and fill the gap with the recommended colour sealant.
- When you have finished laying the floor, remove all installation spacers and fix the quad beading to the skirting boards (by laying it on top of the laminate flooring), to cover the perimeter expansion gap. Use long thin nails, approximately 30mm, to fix the quad beading onto the skirting board. For cement walls use liquid nail adhesive. PLEASE NOTE Quad beading placed around corners are to be cut at 45 degree angles at both joining ends for a neat fit. Finally, inspect the floor. If there are small chips on the plank surface these sections need to be cut out and replaced.
For more information on the Formica products including the FORMICA Flooring range, visit their website.
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