Monday, September 28, 2009

Tips for Installing IKEA Tundra Laminate Flooring

Installing IKEA Tundra laminate flooring is fairly simple. With a little patience and practice Tundra Laminate flooring installed by a do-it-yourself'er with professionals results.

Recommended tools and products: premium knee pads, door frame saw, circular saw with fine blade, laminate hand saw, two tape measures, two carpenter pencils, two small framing squares (one can be a combo square), angle measurement guide (sliding bevel gauge), clear protective glasses, work bench (I use a Black & Decker Workmate), rubber mallet -black/soft (cover with old rag or sock), laminate install kit (from Ikea..includes spacers, metal come along and plastic punch), long straight edge (I use my 48" level), and razor knife.

1) Preparation. Proper floor preparation makes installation much easier. I recommend removing all existing flooring materials prior to installation. Some say the laminate can be installed over the top of existing flooring surfaces, but I think getting to the original substrate is optimal. Make sure the surface is clean and clear of any debris. Make sure all previous baseboards are removed and all nails removed. Use a piece of laminate flooring along with a door frame saw to trim door frames. This allows the flooring to easily slide under door frames and provides a professional look, while allowing quicker installation. Trimming the door frames elimiates the need for complicate cuts and ugly gaps around door frames. Don't cut too high, because then the proffesional look will not occur. Doing all the prep before installing makes the chore of installing much easier.

2) Moisture Barrier. Lay the moisture barrier as necessary. A moisture barrier is a sheet of plastic to be used over concrete floors. The moisture barrier is not necessary for wood substrates, but doesn't hurt either. Roll out the plastic sheeting and use a small amount of duct tape to keep the plastic in place. Plastic sheeting is available at IKEA too. You may be able to find the plastic sheeting a little cheaper at Lowes or Home Depot, but it isn't worth the extra trip for a buck or two.

3) Underlayment. Lay out the foam padding, again triming to fit and taping to hold in place. A key in fitting the foam is to remember NOT to overlap any of the foam. *A premium underlayment can be found at Lowes, which includes a moisture barrier and pad all in one product. This product is a little more costly, but is more efficient and provides excellent results.

4) Flooring. Get the flooring in the room for 48-72 hours before install to help condition the material which can help limit expansion and shrinkage. Now it is time to start laying the laminate flooring. Take your time and fit a few pieces together before you actually start laying it down. This will help you to become familiar with the fiting of the pieces. Install the flooring in a way which the lines go with the long part of the room and/or with the direction of any natural sunlight. The positioning of the flooring lengthwise will provide the best display. The first pieces require the "tongue" part of the piece to be trimmed off. Use the hand saw to quickly and safely remove both tongues. Use the spacers to provide a 1/4" gap along the wall to allow for any expansion the wood may have. Don't make the gap any larger than 1/4" otherwise the baseboard won't cover the gap and the professional look will disappear. Fit the second piece into the first piece using the plastic punch (which has a cut-out which fits directly on the laminate plank. I use the rubber mallet instead of a normal hammer. The rubber mallet has more give and won't hurt the flooring as much as a normal hammer. And after a couple hours of hammering and fitting, the impact of the rubber mallet is much easier on your body. Keep one pencil, square and tape measure at the site of the floor and one set at the saw location. Set-up and prep makes the job much easier. Run one strip of flooring all the way down the length of the room. Then start back up along the first installed piece. This second row of pieces needs to start with a different length in order to stagger the joints. You don't want to have any tow adjacent joints next to each other. Try to have at least several inches between joints and avoid patterns. This helps to create a professional look. Be careful not to hit the pieces too hard or the plastic punch or metal come along can damage the wood. Also, don't hit the pieces so close together because you can damage the joints. You want the joints tight without a space or gap, but not overly tight. Sometimes I find hitting the top of the flooring next to the joints helps to move the floor right into the right spot without damaging the floor (only use a rubber mallet). Use the measuring tape to measure pieces to fit. Remember to account for the 1/4" gap next to any wall. Use the sliding bevel gauge to measure angles to be transferred to the laminate pieces. Remember to always measure two or three times before you cut. You can also use a table saw for any ripping. Although I just use the 48" level to mark the rip lines, then use the circular saw to cut the straight line. Sometimes the adjoining wall isn't straight, so some variance is fine and will be covered with a baseboard. Take your time and be patient. The first floor I did I actually laid about three rows, didn't like the results, pulled it out and started over.