If you have a concrete slab that you want to spiff up, there are some good options available to you.
There are all kinds of inexpensive flooring choices that can be put over concrete. However, laminate is one of the best ones.
Laminate is relatively inexpensive and can be installed on almost any kind of floor. This makes it perfect for putting over hard surfaces such as a concrete slab.
If you install the laminate correctly, you would never know that there was such a hard surface underneath.
Installing Laminate Flooring on Concrete: Basic Idea
To lay a laminate floor over a concrete slab, you should follow these basic steps:
- Prepare the slab
- Install a moisture or vapor barrier
- Put down an underlayment
- Install the laminate planks
Why Install Laminate on Concrete?
Laminate is a high-quality flooring material that can look and feel like real hardwood or stone. It is also much more comfortable to walk on than a standard concrete slab.
Laminate uses a cushioned underlayment to give it some spring and bounce as you walk. This allows you to create a much more pleasant feel in a room that might otherwise feel cold and sterile.
When finishing a garage or basement, laminate is a great option for the flooring.
It is also relatively water and moisture-resistant and will hold up in damper conditions. This can be a big obstacle when making these kinds of rooms more hospitable and homely.
By installing the laminate properly, you can completely transform a utilitarian room into a cozy one.
Prep the Concrete Subfloor
The first thing you want to do before you even buy the laminate flooring is prep the slab itself.
The surface on which you are going to install laminate must be perfectly even. It can’t have any rough spots or dented areas.
If you put laminate over an uneven surface, it will shift and move as you walk on it.
This can create areas for moisture and debris to get under, causing mold and other issues. Not to mention, it also won’t look as professional as it could.
If you have high spots, grind them down with a concrete grinder and bring them down to make the floor even.
Install a Moisture Barrier
In any laminate flooring installation, moisture needs to be a consideration.
Should errant water or humidity make its way underneath the laminate, it can cause issues. Swelling, cracking and warping can all occur if atmospheric moisture isn’t properly accounted for.
Since concrete is relatively porous, it is susceptible to gathering up moisture and expelling it. This usually occurs after heavy rains or in especially humid months.
To prevent this from getting under the laminate, a moisture barrier is necessary.
Install an Underlayment
Since you are laying the laminate on a concrete slab, you are going to want some cushioning.
Cement is a harsh material and can be bad for your feet and back with extended use. This is why it is necessary to install a cushioned underlayment over the moisture barrier.
Sometimes, underlayment will already be attached to the planks of the laminate. If it isn’t, though, you will have to cut and lay it over the slab yourself.
Install the Laminate
After you have installed the moisture barrier and the underlayment, you are ready to lay down the laminate.
Laminate planks usually have a tongue and groove type coupling system that makes them easy to install. You will not need any adhesives and they can be laid right on top of the underlayment.
Make sure that you leave a gap between the last piece of laminate and the wall. This will prevent bumps and cracking that can occur when the flooring swells or contracts with the weather.
This expansion gap should be about ¼” and can be covered by a baseboard or rubber moulding. Make sure that you do not leave too much of a gap as that can cause the laminate to shift.
- What happens if you don’t use underlayment?
If you do not use underlayment on concrete, the floor will be very uncomfortable to walk on.
Concrete is an unforgiving material and it needs a cushion to soften it up. Installing an underlayment will give you a barrier between the laminate and the concrete.
- What is the best underlayment for laminate flooring on concrete?
Foam and cork are the two best underlayments for laminate flooring on concrete.
They are relatively durable materials that still provide cushion when walking. They also work well on top of a moisture barrier and provide better grip.
- Is a vapor barrier and moisture barrier the same thing?
A vapor barrier and moisture barrier are essentially the same thing.
The reason they have different names is depending on the type of water. Humidity is generally known as vapor whereas rain and groundwater are known as moisture.
Laminate flooring is a great way to make a concrete slab room more comfortable and liveable.
If you follow the proper procedure for installing it, no one would be the wiser that there is concrete underneath. This makes it a great option for people who want to finish rooms that might otherwise go unused.