Laminate flooring is a popular alternative to hardwood flooring because it’s cheaper, easier to install, clean, and maintain. If you are planning to install laminate flooring in your house, you might find yourself wondering: does laminate flooring need glue?
Laminate flooring does not need glue. You can install your flooring without using any glue. However, there are a few cases in which glue can be used with laminate flooring, and we will explore these later on.
So, if you don’t glue down your laminate planks, how do you install them? Let’s take a look.
Traditional No-Glue Laminate Floor Installation
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As we mentioned, laminate flooring is designed as a floating floor system. What does that mean?
It means that the planks are fashioned in a manner that allows them to change in size (shrink or expand) with changes in humidity and temperature inside the room.
To achieve that, laminate planks are designed with a tongue on one side of the plank, and a groove on the other side.
To install the flooring, you simply insert the tongue of one plank into the grooving of the other plank and snap them in place
Leave a gap of a ¾ of an inch from the wall to allow the planks enough space to expand when they need to.
Not leaving a gap will cause pumps to appear on the laminate surface as they fail to expand and the planks start pushing against each other.
Pros of No-Glue Laminate Flooring Installation
- It’s easy and takes less time than gluing.
- It’s less messy, avoiding excess glue oozing from below the planks.
- It allows the planks to expand and shrink as needed.
Cons of No-Glue Laminate Flooring Installation
- After some time, planks might start to slide slightly, creating small gaps.
- If installed in the kitchen or bathroom, water may seep below the planks.
When to Glue Laminate Flooring
You should never glue down your laminate flooring directly to the subfloor because you will interrupt the expansion and shrinkage process.
Preventing the planks from adjusting to temperature and humidity changes will cause severe problems.
Planks, being unable to stretch freely, will push against each other, creating pumps and peaks on the surface of the flooring.
Also, being unable to shrink as a whole unit, gaps might appear between the planks.
Furthermore, according to Hubert Miles, a certified master home inspector, gluing down your laminate planks to the subfloor can void warranty from some manufacturers.
So, when and how can you glue laminate flooring planks? There are three occasions when you can use glue with laminate flooring:
To Prevent Water Seepage
If you are planning to install the laminate flooring in a wet area like the kitchen or the bathroom, water falling on the floor can seep through the seams and accumulate under the planks.
This can cause damage to the planks and can facilitate the growth of mold.
Gluing the tongues to the grooves while installing the planks can help close those seams, and create a barrier that prevents water from seeping below.
Note here that you should only glue the tongues to the grooves, but the planks themselves are left free-floating on the subfloor.
To Prevent Sliding
If you found a small gap between two planks in your laminate flooring, you can fix it by pushing the plank that moved back into place with the palm of your hand.
Before doing that, you can apply a small amount of wood glue inside the groove, so the tongue will stick in place.
On The Stairs
The only case where you are allowed to glue a laminate plank into the subfloor is when you are installing it onto a stair step.
As each stair step usually takes no more than two planks, you can glue the planks to the stairs and they would still be free to expand without a problem.
Tools You Need to Install Laminate Flooring
To successfully and efficiently install your laminate flooring, you will need the following tools. Try to prepare them in advance, so you don’t have to stop mid-work to buy any of them.
- Laminate cutter
- Utility Knife
- Measuring tape
- Carpenter’s square
- Installation kit that includes
- Pull bar
- Tapping block
Things to Do Before Installing Your Laminate Flooring
Before jumping into the fun work, there are two steps you must perform to ensure the best result for your project.
Acclimatize Your Laminate Planks
As laminate flooring is sensitive to temperature and humidity, it is highly recommended to let the flooring planks acclimatize to the room conditions for at least 48 hours.
Some manufacturers require that their product be acclimatized for a week before installation.
To acclimatize the planks, just take them out of the packing and leave them in the room’s condition. They will expand to a size relevant to the room temperature and humidity.
Roll Out The Underlayment
Underlayment is a layer of foam that must be installed between the subfloor and the laminate flooring planks.
As laminate flooring is a floating floor, the underlayment provides stability by compensating for any defects that might exist in the subfloor.
Furthermore, the underlayment can provide sound isolation, to prevent walking noise from being transferred through the roof; heat insulation, to help in saving energy; and protection from moisture, saving your laminate flooring from potential water damage.
To wrap up, we answered your initial question: does laminate flooring need glue? The answer was No.
You never glue laminate planks to the subfloor because glued-down laminate planks cannot shrink or expand freely, and this will cause pumps and gaps to appear on your floor.
However, you can glue the planks together to prevent water seepage, or planks from sliding.