Laying the floor
Let’s get this floor down.
I love tile in a kitchen….well, more accurately, I love the *look* of tile in a kitchen, but for this house tile had too many disadvantages to be a viable contender as a flooring choice. From the flex in the floors to my love for cooking with cast iron pots and pans (and my clumsy tendencies), tile just wasn’t in the cards.
Lucky for me though, there is an alternative that gives the look and durability of tile, but installs easily and is far more forgiving to floor movement (and clumsy cooks with heavy pans): Laminate tile.
I know there are a bunch of people right now thinking “Laminate does NOT belong in a kitchen!”, and a few years ago you would have been right…..but not anymore.
We chose to use a new Laminate by Armstrong floors that is not only realistic looking and easy to install, but is approved (including warranty) for use in wet locations….even in bathrooms. Now there are a few differences when it comes to installing this laminate for wet locations, but nothing too difficult. For my kitchen I chose to use the install technique for bathroom use, just to get a little added protection from spills. This is what I’ll show you.
Let’s get into it:
Before any flooring could go down, I needed to put 3/8″ plywood plates down which the cabinets would sit on. The reason for this was to avoid having the laminate run under the cabinets which would inhibit expansion….and besides, there’s no point in buying flooring that no one will ever see, right? The cabinet positions were drawn out on the floor, and the plywood was cut about ¼” undersize (to hide the expansion gap for the flooring later on) and attached down with staples. (notice how smooth that self-leveling concrete came out)
OK, time for some actually flooring! So just like any laminate job, the first step is to install a roll underlay. An underlay does a few things for you…it acts a moisture barrier, quiets footsteps, and helps even out slight irregularities in your subfloor, but most importantly: It allows the laminate flooring to “move” easily. For those who aren’t familiar with Laminate floor installation, it is what’s known as a “floating” floor. The laminate is not attached down at any point, and there is a gap left around the perimeter of the room. This allows the floor to freely expand and contract with seasonal moisture changes, ensuring it stays flat
The underlay has an adhesive strip on one side, and a “flap” on the other. This allows you to join the strips of underlay together to form a continuous barrier.
The underlay is laid down, leaving a couple of extra inches running up the walls (we’ll remove most of it later, so you don’t have to be too neat here), and once that’s down, the laminate is installed. The laminate “clicks” together just like other laminate floors, but for this application we are applying a special glue to the tongues as well. This glue dries to a rubber/silicone like texture, and serves to waterproof the seams.
Anywhere there is a seam in the underlay where there is no adhesive needs to be taped together with vinyl tape.
Finally, after all the flooring is down, the protruding underlay is trimmed off with a pair of snips
And the expansion gap is filled with silicone caulking. This seals the only remaining exposed core of the laminate, creating a totally enveloped and waterproof floor.
And that’s it! The floor is down, the cabinet bases in position, and just in time…..we have a few boxes to open stacked up in the living room. That’s right, the Kraftmaid truck arrived!
Next entry, I’ll open the boxes and take a good look at the cabinets from a woodworker’s perspective.