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Laminate flooring is gaining in popularity because it's easy to install, low maintenance, and is available in many different designs. But there's something you may not know about laminate flooring. How much space should it be from the wall? We've put together all of our research and have the answers for you!
The standard recommended space between laminate flooring and the wall is 10 mm to 12 mm. This space provides leeway when the laminate wood expands due to humidity and temperature changes.
When it comes to choosing laminate flooring, you want to be sure that you'll enjoy it for many years. But what if you're putting it on the floor right next to a wall? Are there any issues that could arise? We will also explain the science behind this requirement, so read on!
Why Is It Important to Leave a Gap Between Laminate Flooring and a Wall?
When planning a new floor for your home, people often decide on the exact dimensions of the materials before buying them. But in reality, these dimensions are usually modified during construction to fit the available space.
Laminate flooring can be installed over existing flooring. If you do not leave enough space between the laminate floor and the wall, the laminate floor will eventually expand and contract due to changes in humidity levels and temperature.
This can cause cracking, warping, or splitting of the laminate flooring. If this happens, you will have to replace the flooring, which is something you don't want to do in the next five years.
So if you are installing new flooring, be sure to leave a gap of at least 10 mm between the panels and walls. This way, there is a buffer zone that can help offset the cracking or warping of the floor.
What is Warping?
The pressure created from the expansion of the floor will try to find the smallest gap and attempt to close it. This phenomenon of expanding wood is known as floor buckling or warping.
When the floor expands, it pushes against the wall. This exerts pressure on the wall and will eventually cause a crack.
This is why it is important to install an adequate expansion gap. Expansion gaps vary based on the type of flooring that is installed, but the standard expansion gap is between 10 mm to 12 mm.
Nonetheless, there is no universal standard for expansion gaps. But if you are going to install laminate wood, you should follow the industry recommendations and install a minimum of 10 mm gap between the boards and the wall.
If you can’t find any expansion gap information on the product you are using, you can always call the manufacturer for specifics.
What Happens If The Expansion Gap Is Too Big?
If your expansion gap is too big, you run the risk of a significant amount of moisture getting under the floor. This increases the chances of a buckle developing sooner than expected. This can also potentially cause water damage to the subfloor.
Buckling is the process of compressing or bending the laminate flooring under stress, usually from repeated footsteps or movement.
When the pressure of the flooring exceeds its capacity, the stress causes the flooring to warp, buckle, or crack. Buckling happens because many factors, including uneven flooring, uneven moisture content, and humidity.
The problem becomes worse in areas with high foot traffic, such as entryways, stairwells, and kitchen floors.
Watch this video for a more comprehensive guide on installing laminate flooring for beginners:
What Kind of Material Is Laminate Flooring Made Of?
Laminate wood is made using layers of high-density fiberboard and a thermosetting melamine resin. They are installed by removing the existing floor covering, cleaning and sanding the subfloor, applying a vapor barrier, and then installing the laminate.
Laminate is a very durable material that can be installed over most types of subfloors. Most homeowners prefer laminate flooring because it can be installed quickly and does not require extensive work.
In order to prevent moisture from penetrating your laminate flooring, it is recommended to use vapor barrier material over the subfloor, such as polyethylene sheeting. Make sure that you install the barrier material prior to installing the laminate flooring.
In addition, laminate flooring looks like wood and has better water and heat resistance than hardwood. This means laminate wood is more resistant to moisture damage and buckling than hardwood. However, laminate flooring does not have the rich, warm feel of hardwood.
Should Baseboards Be Taken Off When Installing Laminate Flooring?
Baseboards are a great way to add style and character to your home. They help define the space between your flooring and walls, and their design options are endless.
In general, the style of the baseboards is determined by the flooring material you select. When remodeling your floor, designing for compatibility is often a major consideration.
You also need to consider whether you want to keep the baseboards in place when installing laminate flooring. The solution to this dilemma depends on your personal preference and how you want your new laminate flooring to look relative to the existing baseboards.
If you're happy with the existing baseboards with your new laminate floor, then you can keep them in place. However, if you want a different style for the baseboards, you will need to remove them before laying down your new laminate floor.
What Happens If You Don't Stagger Laminate Flooring?
A good practice is to stagger the laminate planks, especially if the floor is in a high-traffic area, as this would greatly reduce the risk of flooring separation. It is recommended that the planks should be staggered by approximately 6 to 12 inches.
Failure to stagger will usually result in planks being pulled apart from one another and may even cause a complete floor separation. This is especially true when laminate flooring is installed over a sub-floor that has a large area of open space.
Staggering involves dividing the floor into sections and then alternating the direction of the slats in each section, resulting in a random pattern.
It helps to keep the floor flat by keeping the weight of the planks evenly distributed throughout the floor, creating a more sturdy and durable floor.
Staggered floors have become a popular choice among homeowners because they look better than other laminate flooring products in terms of design and appearance.
The staggered pattern gives the appearance of a solid floor, making it an attractive option for both commercial and residential spaces.
Is Laminate Flooring Supposed to Flex?
The expansion gap is necessary because the expansion of the flooring must be able to take place without restriction. Therefore, the flooring must be allowed to expand and contract freely.
In the past, many homeowners have had to deal with hardwood flooring that can easily warp or bend in a short span of time. Hardwood floors are susceptible to warping because of their tight expansion gap.
To address this issue, floating floors were conceptualized, giving birth to laminated flooring.
How Long Before You Can Walk on Laminate Floors After Installation?
A good rule of thumb is to wait at least 24 hours. Walking on it immediately right after installation may disengage the flooring. The cure time varies depending on the type of adhesive used and the thickness of the floor. But it should not take longer than 24 hours.
Can You Put Heavy Objects on Laminate Flooring?
There is a great deal of debate about whether or not it is possible to damage or ruin the laminate flooring while moving furniture over it.
In fact, some people are even afraid to try because they believe it will destroy the laminate flooring.
However, it is not difficult to move furniture with care. Furniture can be too heavy to be moved by lifting. You can put furniture pads on the edges or on its legs.
This way, you can drag the furniture around the room without scratching the floor's surface.
The initial thought of having laminate flooring against a wall might seem like a good idea for aesthetic reasons. However, there is more to consider. If you want your laminate flooring to last for many years, then you need to have an appropriate gap between walls. We can't stress enough the importance of leaving a sufficient gap to allow for expansion and contraction. This way, you won't compromise the structural integrity of the laminate flooring.
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