Love your laminate
For do-it-yourselfers, laminate flooring can give the authentic look of hardwood, marble or granite at a much lower cost, with much less labor and usually without the need for any type of adhesive. Laminate floors are also very long-lasting—most are resistant to stains, scratches, dents and burns.
Properly installed, laminate is a long-lasting alternative to any other type of flooring. Here are the steps for installing a laminate floor with hardwood boards in your house:
Select your laminate and underlay. Installers should buy somewhat more flooring than the area of your room, to take into account cut pieces that might not be reusable. You also need to purchase an underlay—what type depends on the surface over which you install the flooring—which protects the laminate from moisture.
Calculate how many boards wide your room is. Laminate flooring usually comes in long planks, laid out lengthwise. Determine before laying out the width of any partial boards you’ll need on either end of the room—the width of the last row should be no less than two inches. Additionally, experts say the floor should be laid in the same direction as the room’s main light source.
Prepare your room. After purchasing the laminate flooring from a hardware store the surface must be cleaned and swept of debris. Remove any old flooring, tack strips or padding. If installing over concrete, make sure the surface is flat to prevent creaking; if installing over wood, check for protruding nails, squeaking or flexing in the wood.
Remove floor boards. If necessary, you should also shave the bottoms of doors and door frames so that the flooring will fit.
Install the underlay. Lay the underlay out in strips along the floor; you may connect the pieces together with tape.
Lay out your first row of boards. Begin in the corner of the room, leaving a quarter-inch space between the board and the wall. That space is important to allow for expansion in the boards due to seasonal weather and humidity changes. Most laminate boards lock together with a snap mechanism; on the first row, lock the ends of each board together on the short end as you lay them.
Lay out your second row of boards. Install the new row of boards, locking in the boards lengthwise with the first row of boards. Take into account any floor vents and prepare boards for them before laying out the floor.
Continue to lay out the boards. The board should be laid in a staggered pattern, to keep from the seams. You may use a tool to lay out the last piece on each row, and spacers can be used on the ends to keep the quarter-inch distance from the wall.
Install floor boards. When you finish, install a floor trim to cover the small space between the boards and the wall. And just like that your floor is complete.
Other types of flooring to consider
Here are five other types of flooring, and their difficulty in installation.
Hardwood is beautiful, traditional and sturdy, but depending on the style can be difficult to install and maintain.
An old standby, carpet can also difficult to clean compared to other flooring.
Ceramic tile ***
Tiles are authentic and can be beautiful, but are generally more expensive than other flooring types. Still, they are easy to install compared to other types.
A sturdy and cheap flooring alternative—it’s not too tough to install, either.
Can make for a beautiful and authentic floor, but preparation and installation are difficult.
(Key: * easy, ** moderate, *** challenging, **** difficult, ***** hard)
What about bamboo?
Try this renewable resource in your home
Beauty: Contrary to popular belief it is actually a grass not a wood product, so you will notice bamboo has a different look than typical hardwood floors.
Durability: Bamboo is resilient. Meaning is bounces back and most impacts and doesn't dent. This resiliency is also better on the feet and will "give" slightly when walking over it.
Resistance: Bamboo is a naturally water resistant material, plus the manufacturing process includes lamination which increases its resistance to warping, so it can be used in bathrooms.
Environment: Bamboo can re-grow easily and in a reasonably short time. It is typically harvested every four to five years, and the actual plant isn't completely destroyed in the process.