Install Laminate Flooring Over Plywood

Installing laminate flooring over plywood is a popular and cost-effective way to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your space. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the step-by-step process, ensuring a successful and durable installation.

Step 1: Preparing the plywood surface

is a critical initial step that lays the foundation for a successful laminate flooring installation. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what this step entails:

  1. Clean the Surface: Begin by thoroughly cleaning the plywood surface. Remove any dust, debris, or dirt that may have accumulated. A clean surface ensures proper adhesion of the moisture barrier and eliminates potential obstacles that could affect the smooth installation of laminate flooring.
  2. Inspect for Imperfections: Carefully inspect the plywood for any imperfections such as bumps, dents, or uneven areas. Use a straight edge or level to identify high or low spots. Address these imperfections by sanding down high points or filling in low areas with a suitable wood filler. A level and even surface is crucial for preventing unevenness in the laminate flooring.
  3. Address Protruding Nails or Screws: If there are any protruding nails or screws in the plywood, make sure to countersink them. This involves ensuring that they are flush with the surface or slightly below to avoid interference with the laminate planks.
  4. Smooth Out Joints: Pay close attention to the joints between plywood sheets. If there are noticeable gaps or uneven transitions, consider using a wood filler or leveling compound to create a seamless and level surface. This step contributes to the overall stability and appearance of the laminate flooring.
  5. Consider Subfloor Recommendations: Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the specific type of laminate flooring and plywood you are using. Some laminate flooring products may have specific requirements for the condition of the subfloor, and adhering to these guidelines ensures optimal performance and longevity.

Step 2: Lay a Moisture Barrier

To protect the laminate flooring from potential moisture damage, it’s essential to lay a moisture barrier over the plywood. This layer acts as a shield, preventing any moisture from seeping through and affecting the integrity of the laminate planks. Use a high-quality moisture barrier recommended by the laminate flooring manufacturer.

  1. Select the Right Moisture Barrier: Choose a high-quality moisture barrier specifically designed for use with laminate flooring. The barrier may come in the form of a roll or sheets, and it often consists of materials like polyethylene or foam. Check with the laminate flooring manufacturer for their recommended moisture barrier product.
  2. Unroll the Barrier: Start in one corner of the room and unroll the moisture barrier across the entire plywood surface. Allow the barrier to extend up the walls by a few inches to ensure comprehensive coverage. Trim any excess material using a utility knife.
  3. Overlap Seams: If you are using multiple sheets or rolls of the moisture barrier, make sure to overlap the seams. Use adhesive tape designed for moisture barriers to secure the overlapping edges, creating a continuous and watertight surface. This step prevents moisture from penetrating through the seams.
  4. Secure Edges: Secure the edges of the moisture barrier to the plywood using staples or another recommended fastening method. This ensures that the barrier stays in place during the installation process and provides a stable foundation for the laminate flooring.
  5. Cut Around Obstacles: Use a utility knife to carefully cut the moisture barrier around any obstacles such as vents or floor outlets. This attention to detail ensures that the barrier fits snugly around these areas without compromising its integrity.
  6. Inspect for Wrinkles or Bubbles: Once the moisture barrier is in place, inspect the surface for any wrinkles or bubbles. Smooth out any imperfections, as they can affect the evenness of the laminate flooring installation. A flat and well-secured moisture barrier is essential for the proper functioning of the laminate floor.
  7. Consider Underlayment: Some laminate flooring products may recommend an additional underlayment for added insulation or sound absorption. If required, install the underlayment on top of the moisture barrier according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Step 3: Start in a Corner

Begin the installation process in a corner of the room, with the tongue side of the laminate planks facing the wall. This ensures a uniform and professional-looking finish. Use spacers along the walls to maintain a consistent expansion gap, allowing the laminate to adjust to changes in humidity and temperature.

Step 4: Interlock the Planks

As you lay the first row of laminate planks, interlock them by angling each plank and pressing down firmly. The tongue and groove system should securely connect, creating a stable and cohesive surface. Continue this process for subsequent rows, staggering the seams for a more natural appearance.

Step 5: Cut to Fit

When you reach the last row, measure and cut the laminate planks to fit the remaining space. Remember to leave a quarter-inch expansion gap along the edges to accommodate potential expansion and contraction. Use a saw appropriate for laminate flooring to achieve clean and precise cuts.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

After installing the laminate flooring, it’s time to add the finishing touches. Install baseboards or molding around the perimeter of the room to conceal the expansion gap and provide a polished look. Choose molding that complements the laminate for a seamless transition from floor to wall.

Conclusion

Installing laminate flooring over plywood is a rewarding DIY project that can transform the look and feel of your space. By following these steps and referring to the manufacturer’s instructions, you’ll achieve a professional and long-lasting result. Enjoy the beauty of your new laminate flooring and the comfort it brings to your home.