Laminate floors are hardwearing, require low maintenance and complement any style of home. They are ideal for all ground floor living areas and hallways. However, they aren't recommended for bathrooms or kitchens as the boards may swell if they absorb water.
Although the laminate surface is protected with a tough lacquer, it can be scratched by grit, so fit a doormat in a hallway and always brush up loose grit or dirt.
Bear in mind that boards are also noisier than a soft flooring and the sound may annoy neighbours, especially in a flat, so use a thick underlay.
Preparation of the floor
A firm, level base is essential before you can add a laminate floor. Fill any cracks and holes in a concrete floor with mortar. If the surface is still uneven, level with a layer of self-levelling compound, sometimes referred to as latex screed, which is available from DIY stores.
Allow any repair work to dry, then cover with a polythene damp-proof membrane to stop any moisture damaging the new boards.
For chipboard and floorboards in good condition, you need only screw down any loose boards and hammer nail heads below the surface. The underlay boards will provide an even surface for the new boards.
Cover old, uneven floorboards with hardboard. Brush a litre of water over the rough side of each sheet and leave for 24 hours. Lay the sheets across the floorboards, staggering the joints and fixing with panel pins every 100mm around the edge and at 150mm spacing in the middle.
Leave the opened packs of flooring in the room for at least 24 hours so that the boards can acclimatise to the humidity before laying.
Generally, lay laminate boards in the same direction as the longest straight wall. In a square room, lay the boards in the direction of incoming light.
Where the laminate meets the edge of the room, you can either take off the skirting boards and replace them on top of the boards or add timber mouldings to hide the edges of the new floor.
Take off any inward-opening doors before starting work to make the job easier.
Vacuum the floor to remove any grit and fit the laminate floor underlay, starting in one corner.
Floor laying video
Before reading part 2 you might want to check out this real wood floor laying video which includes some useful tips applying to laminates as well: