Aside from the warmth and beauty created by extraordinary reproduction of natural wood, there is no flooring that we know of that delivers the carefree durability and easy maintenance of laminate flooring.
Drop a dish in the dining room? No problem for your laminate floor. Kids like to roughhouse with the family golden retriever in the den? Your laminate floor can take it. Your toddler loves to go exploring with juice cup in hand? Don’t worry; your laminate floor won’t stain. Simply put, no flooring resists dinging or denting from falling objects, or staining from spilled juice cups or wine glasses, as well as laminate flooring.
And as for pets, with laminate flooring you never worry about hair or pet dander collecting in your floor, or claw marks and scratches on top of your floor. With simple care and common sense, your laminate floor will get the same admiration from dinner guests years after you first installed it.
What are some of the “watch outs” for installing laminate flooring in these common areas?
To address that, let’s refer to the “3 L’s” of laminate flooring installation: Load, Lighting, Leveling, and a fourth “L,” Length. Let’s explore each in turn.
Watch out for heavy laminate-floor loads in the living room and den.
It’s not uncommon for pianos to be located in living rooms or great rooms, or for pool tables or aquariums to reside in dens or family rooms. Extraordinarily heavy items, especially when the weight is concentrated on small feet or casters, can be stressful for any floor, including laminate.
In the case of laminate floors, simple precautions can avoid compromising the locking system of the planks caused by the extreme pressure of the heavy object:
- Stagger the planks at least 12 inches from row to row,
- Use a thicker plank, and
- In extreme cases, create an island around the heavyweight.
Watch out for extreme lighting conditions on laminate flooring in the dining room
Or any room for that matter where you have a large, unshaded window facing south or west.
It’s actually not the light itself that’s the issue because laminate floors have UV protection and aren’t subject to fading, rather the heat generated by the sunlight where it shines on the floor. Heat will be absorbed by the planks, causing them to expand. Expanding planks can buckle slightly if not enough expansion gap has been left around the perimeter of the room and at doorways or “pinch points”.
Watch out for uneven laminate-floor leveling issues in the hallways
No one likes a squeaky floor, especially if you’re sneaking down to the kitchen for a midnight snack. The solution to a squeaky floor is a smooth, level subfloor. Remember that laminate floors are floating floors; they don’t get nailed or glued down. In a hallway that gets a lot of foot traffic in a confined area, if you have an uneven subfloor, it’s going to cause aggravation. We caution that a peak or valley in the subfloor over 1/8-inch within 40 inches of grade is not acceptable.
Watch out for extreme length challenges for laminate floors in hallways
Or any space in the home that’s over 40 feet in length. Some homes will have combined kitchen and family-room spaces that will measure that and more. And because you should always install laminate flooring in hallways running lengthwise down the hallway (not across the hallway), you should consider this space as well.
The concern here is whether the area has adequate heat dissipation. If it doesn’t have an expansion gap within a reasonable distance, it could lead to plank buckling. Should your total laminate flooring space be in excess of 40 feet in one direction, Swiss Krono recommends planning a transition molding into your floor design as a precaution.