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Laminate Flooring FAQ

We are pleased to provide answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on a wide variety of our products. For more information on our laminate flooring please browse our selection of outstanding quality products, visit our Laminate Flooring Learning Center, or browse the answers to our frequently asked questions.

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Q. How do I clean my laminate flooring?

A. Laminate flooring is a beautiful, low maintenance, long-lasting flooring. There are several simple steps that you can take to keep your laminate flooring clean and to ensure that you get many years of service from it. Simply dust mop or vacuum with a soft brush or wood floor accessory to keep your laminate floor clean from dust, dirt or grit.

  • A damp cloth or mop can be used without damage to the laminate flooring panels, but do not use excessive water. Dry the floor thoroughly with a clean, soft cloth.
  • Blot up spills or water from wet feet or footwear immediately with a clean, dry cloth, sponge, or paper towel. Do not allow excess liquid to remain on the surface of your laminate floor.
  • Do not use soap-based detergents, abrasive cleaners, or combined “clean and shine” products on your laminate floor.
  • Do not use steel wool or other scouring pads that may scratch laminate panels.
  • Do not wax or polish your laminate flooring.
  • Do not steam clean or use chemicals that may damage the laminate flooring surface.

For stubborn spots or stains on laminate flooring use acetone or nail polish remover on stubborn substances such as tar, asphalt, paint, or oil. Then wipe clean with a damp cloth.

You may also want to check out the cleaning guide at our new Laminate Flooring Learning Center.

Q. What are laminate floors and how are they made?

A. Laminate flooring is a versatile, durable, attractive flooring with the appearance of a hardwood floor. Although laminate flooring looks like wood flooring, there is actually no solid wood used in its construction. Laminate floors are made up of several materials bonded together under high pressure. Most laminate flooring consists of a moisture resistant layer under a layer of HDF (high density fiberboard). This is topped with a high resolution photographic image of natural wood flooring. It is then finished with an extremely hard, clear coating made from special resin-coated cellulose to protect the laminate flooring. Laminate flooring is perfect for anyone wanting a durable floor for a fraction of the price and installation time of a hardwood floor, but with the attractiveness of real hardwood. This construction also makes laminate flooring more environment-friendly as it uses less wood in its construction and makes more efficient use of the wood fiber that is used.

Q. What is the difference between laminate flooring and hardwood flooring?

A. Both laminate flooring and hardwood flooring can beautify a home. While hardwood is often thought to be a superior choice, there are several advantages to laminate flooring. Distinct differences between the two types of flooring often make laminate a more attractive alternative. Solid hardwood of any thickness (most is 3/8” to 3/4”) should be installed only above grade. Laminate flooring can be installed above or below grade, and over virtually any other flooring surface. Some hardwood flooring is engineered, meaning that instead of solid hardwood, it is made of several wood layers with a hardwood veneer. Laminate flooring, usually 7mm to 8mm (5/16” to 3/8”), is also made of several layers. These are laminated together which makes for stability and strength. The top surface of laminate flooring is a photograph of hardwood. High quality photographs faithfully reproduce the grain and color of natural hardwood, and the surfaces on quality laminate flooring closely resemble real wood. Although many people insist on hardwood flooring, laminates are a long-lasting, durable, affordable option that are quickly becoming one of the most popular types of flooring.

Q. How do laminate floor panels lock together?

A. There are many types of edge joining systems used to connect laminate flooring panels together. Some laminate flooring connections snap together by hand while others require a light tap with a mallet and a tapping block. Still others use a combination of a “snap” click edge and a “bang” or “tap” click at the end of the panels. While most of the various systems work well to secure your laminate floor, it is important to read your laminate flooring installation instructions carefully. Familiarize yourself with how your flooring locks together before starting your installation. Some proven and popular laminate floor joining systems are: Uniclic, Kronotex’s Clic2Clic, Classen’s EasyConnect and Lamton’s InstaLock.

Q. Where can I install laminate wood flooring?

A. Laminate flooring is an extremely versatile flooring product. It can be installed in virtually any room of your home, above or below ground, over wood or concrete. There are several locations that are not recommended for laminate flooring. Because laminate flooring is a wood flooring product it is not recommended that laminates be installed in wet locations such as bathrooms, washrooms, saunas, enclosed porches or verandas, or anywhere that may require wet-mopping. Extended exposure to moisture of this type may cause the core of your laminate flooring to warp or swell. In some instances, with special installation procedures, it is possible to install laminate floors in bathrooms where water will not stand on the floor for any length of time. For bathroom installations, it is recommended you apply a light bead of glue to the tongue on the planks to be used in the areas subject to spills. Also, ensure that all spills are mopped up and dried promptly.

Q. What are the advantages of laminate flooring over those of solid hardwood flooring?

A. One obvious advantage is that of price; laminate flooring is typically half the cost of traditional hardwood flooring. Sometimes the savings are even greater, depending on the types of flooring in question. Additionally, laminate flooring is designed to be easy to install and is generally a good choice for most do-it-yourselfers, where solid hardwood requires a specific level of expertise. Installing laminate doesn’t involve nails, and more recently has done away with glue as well in many cases. Laminate flooring can therefore be installed fairly quickly and inexpensively. Laminate flooring is generally designed to be scratch-resistant and fade resistant, two areas where solid hardwood flooring is known to be more vulnerable.

Q. What do I need to know before I start installing my laminate floor?

A. There are several things to consider before you begin to install a laminate floor. Careful preparation before beginning will make installing your laminate floor a quick and easy process.

  • Ensure that your subfloor is flat, dry, and smooth.
  • Always use underlayment under your laminate floor for soundproofing.
  • Laminate flooring and underlayment/vapor barrier can be installed over concrete, wood flooring, vinyl tile, linoleum, tile, or virtually any other hard, flat surface.
  • Take extra care when installing laminate flooring over radiant heating. Ensure that you read both the laminate flooring and radiant heat system instructions carefully before beginning.
  • Read your laminate flooring manufacturer’s installation instructions carefully.
  • Allow you laminate flooring to acclimatize to the room where it will be installed for as long as possible (min. 48 hours)
  • Inspect each laminate flooring panel carefully for defects or damage before installing it.

All brands of laminate flooring sold by BuildDirect have installation instructions online.

Installing Laminate Flooring - A How-To Guide

A video step by step guide to installing laminate flooring. Everything you need to know about how to install laminate floors.

Watch Installing Laminate Flooring - A How-To Guide on YouTube

Q. What do I have to do before installation?

A. Laminate flooring boards must be acclimatized for 48 hours in the room where they will be installed. Installation should take place at room temperature of at least 65°F (15°C). A floor surface temperature of 59°F and an overall room temperature of 64°F must be ensured before, during and three days after the installation.

Q. Do I have to keep staggering the planks in my laminate flooring installation?

A. The first row should be started with a full plank, the second row with a 2/3 plank and the third row with a 1/3 plank. The distance between joints from one row to the next for the remainder of the installation must be 8" or greater

Q. How do I determine the direction in which to install my laminate flooring?

A. To decide where to begin the layout of your floor, consider incoming light. It is usually best to install laminate flooring with the planks running parallel to light coming in windows or glass doors. For any installation, the starting wall should be as long and straight as possible.

Q. Will there be any cutting waste?

A. In an average installation, approximately 7% to 10% of the total area to be covered will be wasted for several reasons, typically cuts, planks damaged during installation, or errors.

Q. What is the reason for the necessary 10mm gap left around the perimeter of the interior and around other obstacles within it?

A.Because laminate flooring is derived from wood, it is subject to expansion caused by room temperatures and humidity levels. An expansion gap is a necessary part of any successful installation because it allows space for the expansion of the floor as it responds to these external influences of temperature and humidity. When it is exposed to warmer temperatures, or to increased humidity, laminate flooring planks expand outward. Leaving out the essential element of an outside gap can cause the buckling of the individual laminate flooring planks as the planks push outward against walls or other obstacles.

Q. I didn't get my first row straight. Can I continue?

A. Do not continue. Getting the first row absolutely straight is the foundation - perhaps the most critical part- to a successful installation. If your first rows are not properly aligned, or the joints are not tightly sealed, the entire installation will be compromised. (The error will magnify as you continue installing.) Along both sides and ends, all planks must be parallel to each other or there will be wedge-shaped gaps between planks. If residue is caught in the grooves, poor alignment can also result. Remember to make sure all grooves are clean before installation.

Q. How do I choose the right moldings?

A. Here is a brief guide to moldings and their best uses for a laminate flooring project:

Molding Usage Image
Base shoe molding Used to cover the expansion space left at walls and other vertical surface Baseshoe Molding
End molding Used at exterior doorways to finish the space where the laminate flooring ends End Molding
Reducer molding Used to join laminate flooring to other flooring materials of varying height. Reducer Molding
T molding For use in doorways or thresholds to join two areas of floor on the same height level T Molding
Stair Nose molding For use in finishing the exposed outer edges of stain and landings Stair Nose Molding
Quarter round molding Used in the same way as a base shoe molding, behind cabinets where a low profile molding is better suited to support an object flush against the wall. Quarter Round Molding

Q. How should I install moldings?

A. You can glue or nail moldings to the wall only, never to the floor.

Q. What is a floating floor?

A. A floating floor is a floor built with all its parts attached to each other but with none of these component parts fixed to the supporting floor. Virtually all laminate floors install as floating floors.

Q. What is HDF and what is it made of?

A. High density fiberboard, HDF, is basically a high-density, moisture-resistant fiber panel. It is made of wood residues (sawdust, shavings and wood chips) from wood processing factories. This ligneous material is ground into a pulp to which a melamine-urea-formaldehyde resin is added. This pulp is then dried and pressed into panels.

Q. How is the paper applied to the HDF core?

A. The melamine impregnated paper is thermo-fused to the core, topped with an aluminum-oxide wear layer.

Q. Why is a moisture barrier used on concrete?

A. Concrete floors below ground are capable of storing a vast amount of water. It is crucial to avoid all direct contact between the laminate flooring and the concrete floor because the soil beneath the concrete can transmit humidity into the floor. Installing a moisture barrier over all concrete surfaces is mandatory for a successful installation and for the ongoing health of a laminate floor.

Q. How can I get the shine of my floor to increase?

A. The shine can not be modified as it is a manufactured characteristic. Therefore, you must never wax or polish a laminate floor.

Q. How does laminate flooring from BuildDirect compare to other laminate flooring products?

A. All Laminate floors sold by BuildDirect are high quality products, manufactured with residual wood fiber. Their self-locking tongue-and-groove systems have exceptional joint integrity and are designed for easy, glue-free installation. All edges are protected against ingress of moisture by an environment-friendly hydrophobic agent. All laminate floors from BuildDirect meet stringent standards for resistance to moisture, wear, fading, and staining. And after installation, the floor can be walked on immediately.

Q. Can laminate flooring be installed on steps?

A. Yes, laminate flooring can be installed on steps but with this exceptional installation, the planks should be glued down with regular wood glue. The moldings and transitions need to be nailed down.

Q. Can laminate flooring be installed in my screened in porch or patio?

A. No, laminate flooring must be installed in a climate-controlled area.

Q. Can we install laminate over carpet?

A. No, all carpet and padding should be removed completely prior to installation.

Q. How often do the wood grain patterns repeat on your flooring?

A. The patterns repeat every 20 planks.

Q. How do I care for and maintain my laminate floors?

A. While laminate floors are highly resistant to stains and abrasions, they are not indestructible. In order to maximize the durability and beauty of your laminate flooring, we recommend the following practices as part of your floor’s normal care and maintenance.

  • Place a doormat outside the exterior entrances to collect excess moisture, sand, grit and other potentially damaging substances from being tracked onto your laminate floor.
  • Use only colorfast and non-scratch carpeting or pads on your laminate surface.
  • Avoid sharp or pointed objects with concentrated weight such as high heels on your laminate flooring.
  • Use protective felt pads under furniture legs or wide castors under appliance levelers.
  • Do not slide furniture or appliances across your laminate floor. If using a wheeled dolly to move furniture or appliances, place a clean sheet of smooth plywood or other protective layer over your laminate surface.
  • Rearrange furniture occasionally for increased indentation resistance
  • Do not treat or seal your laminate floor panels after they are installed.
  • Never sand, lacquer, or refinish your laminate flooring surfaces.

Q. How do I repair minor scratches?

A. Minor scratches or nicks can be repaired with laminate floor repair paste. This can be purchased in most retail flooring stores.

Q. What is the difference between a brown core and a green core in laminate flooring?

A. The cores are the same. The green product is a result of a coloring agent added to the adhesive in the manufacturing of the High Density Fiberboard (HDF) core in response to general market preference.

Q. How do I replace one plank of my flooring due to damage?

A. If the plank that needs replacing is close to the edge of the room, simply disassemble the floor to the position of the plank to be replaced and then reinstall the plank(s). There is a more complicated procedure if you need to replace a single hard-to-get-to plank. Call your BuildDirect product specialist who will be pleased to email or fax you the specific instructions. Phone toll free 1-877-631-2845.

Q. What is the wear rating for your product?

A. All laminate flooring products from BuildDirect have an AC3 rating (suitable for all residential applications in addition to light commercial applications such as hotel rooms and small offices).

Q. What is a laminate flooring AC rating?

A. AC hardness ratings are a standardized measure adopted by The Association of European Producers of Laminate Flooring (ELPF) . The AC measure rates abrasion resistance, impact resistance, resistance to staining and cigarette burns, and thickness swelling along edges. If a laminate flooring cannot meet the requirements for each of these ratings, approval for a given AC rating will be denied. All laminate flooring distributed by BuildDirect has a minimum punishment class of 23 for residential use (heavy) and 31 for commercial use (moderate), or an AC3 rating. AC ratings 4 and 5 are equally suitable for residential use as AC3 but somewhat more suitable for high traffic commercial applications. AC ratings below 3 are recommended for low traffic residential use only. Here is a more detailed guide:

  • AC1 is suitable for lighter, more infrequent traffic, e.g. a bedroom.
  • AC2 is suitable for general residential use in living rooms and dining rooms.
  • AC3 can be applied to more varied locations, such as small offices and other light commercial location
  • AC4 can be installed in higher traffic commercial areas such as boutiques, busier offices, and restaurant
  • AC5 is more durable still and can withstand the traffic of heavier commercial areas such as department stores and public buildings.



 
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I was hesitant buying wood flooring on the Internet but placed an order with BuildDirect, and I am glad I did. I was not only satisfied with the quality of the product, but also the good customer care. I am glad I chose your company. I will be a repeat customer. Thank you
Arturo G. Sun Valley, CA
Jul 10, 2014
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