If you are looking to breathe new life into your home’s flooring, laminate is the first thing that comes to mind. Laminate flooring can mimic the beauty and texture of natural wood for a fraction of the price – and it is straightforward to install and maintain. However, any subfloor needs to be even and smooth.
Installing laminate on uneven concrete subflooring will make the planks lose and shorten their lifespan. If the concrete flooring has dips and hills, you need to correct it using a grinder and leveling agent. Once the subfloor is even, apply a vapor barrier underlayment to remedy any imperfection.
Laying laminate planks on uneven concrete is one of the biggest mistakes you could make with your new flooring! Here’s all you need to know about preventing any issues related to uneven concrete and enjoy your laminate flooring for years to come.
Can You Lay Laminate on Uneven Concrete?
Laminate flooring, especially those that come with an integrated tongue-and-groove system, are so easy to install and maintain that you might be tempted to install them anywhere around the house. While they are undoubtedly a convenient choice to enjoy the warmth and beauty of wood without the price tag, laminate flooring is not suitable for every type of flooring.
As you may know, laminate is not bottom-to-top water-resistant, which means that it is not one of the most suitable materials for high-moisture locations such as the bathroom or kitchen. However, another enemy of laminate flooring – perhaps an even more dangerous one – is the uneven subflooring.
So, should you put laminate on uneven concrete? Unfortunately, the answer is no; you should not. Even if, in some cases, the difference in level is so slight to allow you to position the planks still, you can start seeing the damage that this might cause within months.
Indeed, laminate planks installed on uneven concrete will start to become loosen, show unsightly gaps, and cause some areas of the floor to be bouncy or clicky. In turn, this can affect the level of soundproofing and waterproofing of the laminate floor.
Maximum Level Tolerance of Laminate Flooring
If you have noticed that your concrete floor might not be even, there are two possible scenarios:
- The concrete floor boasts scratches and imperfections that might be noticeable when laying a thick laminate flooring.
- The concrete floor has steeper hills and valleys that can impact the flooring’s structure.
In the first case, you can simply rely on a higher-quality underlayment and a thicker laminate flooring to prevent imperfections from showing.
However, if the concrete boasts an actual difference in level, you need to understand whether this can affect the installation process. For this, you should understand what the maximum level tolerance of laminate flooring is.
Over 10sqft (1sqmt), the difference in level should not exceed 3/16 in (4.7mm). If you notice that the hills and valleys of your concrete subfloor are deeper or higher than this average, you should consider correcting it before installing the laminate flooring.
Why Should Your Subfloor Be Even?
Laminate flooring is affordable enough to convince many homeowners and DIYers to forego the preparation stage and install the planks on any flooring. However, this is not recommendable if you wish to enjoy your new laminate flooring for years to come.
Some of the benefits of applying laminate on a level concrete subfloor include:
- It increases its soundproofing level. Laminate flooring offers a soundproofing level much higher than vinyl or luxury vinyl. However, if there are gaps between the laminate and the concrete, this won’t be as effective. And, it can even worsen the noise as the air bubbles between the laminate and concrete will give out clicks, pops, and knocks as you walk on the flooring.
- It increases its performance. Laminate flooring tends to use a tongue-and-groove system that can be highly efficient and easy to install. However, for this system to be efficient, the concrete must be even.
- It increases the floor’s lifespan. With gaps and air bubbles between the laminate and the concrete, it won’t take long for the plants to start flexing up and down, damaging the interlocking system.
If your concrete following still has scratches and smaller bumps, you can remedy those with a thicker underlayment and laminate planks.
How To Install Laminate on Uneven Concrete
If you have noticed that your concrete flooring is uneven, it is essential not to skip the preparation stage. In most cases, you will be able to use a leveling agent to help you level out the subfloor before the laminate installation.
Alternatively, keep reading below for a step-by-step guide.
What You’ll Need
- Concrete grinder
- Leveling agent
- Laminate flooring
- Underlayment (vapor-barrier)
- Long level
- Tape measure
- Utility knife
- Jigsaw or handsaw
Check the Concrete Floor
The first step is to understand the condition of your concrete flooring. As we have seen above, some bumps that are not higher or lower than 4mm won’t affect the laminate installation.
To check the state of your floor, it is recommendable to use a long level. The easiest way to check the condition of a floor across a long distance is to use a measuring tape. Here’s how:
- Lay the level on the floor.
- With a measuring tape, record the distance between the floor and the top of the level.
- Continue to do so every 6-8 inches (15-20cm).
- If all the measures are within 3/16in (4.7mm), the flooring is even enough to install laminate.
If you have found that there are areas of the floor that pass this mark, you need to correct your concrete subfloor.
Rent a Concrete Grinder and Leveling Agent
Concrete subfloors are among the most popular types since they are highly reliable and long-lasting. However, they are likely to undergo years of subtle movements and daily wear and tear because of their long lifespan.
In an older house, you are likely to find yourself with a bumpy floor. In this case, you will need to use your previous measurements to determine the areas with bumps or valleys.
Once you have done so, you will need to use:
Copyright protected content owner: ReadyToDIY.com and was initially posted on May 4, 2021.
- A concrete grinder to sand the sections of the subfloor that are higher or hilly
- A filling agent (such as cementitious leveling compound) to fill the lower dips and create an even surface
Check the Concrete Moisture
Once you have leveled out the concrete subfloor by sanding it and filling any dips, it is essential to let it dry. As we have seen above, laminate flooring is water-resistant from top to bottom, but not from bottom to the top. In turn, this means that any moisture that comes from the concrete will affect its integrity and shorten its lifespan.
To check the concrete’s moisture level, you can use a concrete moisture kit that is usually sold in home improvement shops. Ensure that the moisture level does not exceed 2.5% – a percentage that needs to be as low as 1.5% if you are planning to install underfloor heating.
Clean the Concrete
After checking the moisture content, make sure that the concrete is clean. With a grinder, you can remove any oil or adhesive stuck on the concrete, which can also help you smooth out any imperfection. Sweep the floor or use a vacuum cleaner to remove any debris and avoid trapping any dirt between the floor and subfloor.
Select and Install the Underlay
Your laminate underlay is the most crucial element of the installation process. As we have seen, the moisture and vapor that the concrete naturally emits will affect the laminate.
Therefore, the best underlayment to install laminate on concrete is a vapor barrier. These underlayments are usually made of thick foam and offer several benefits, from protecting the laminate to causing the planks to “float.” In turn, this will reduce noise and improve insulation.
Copyright article owner is ReadyToDiy.com for this article. This post was first published on May 4, 2021.
Install the Laminate Flooring
Once the concrete is level and you have applied a suitable underlayment, you can install the laminate flooring. You might need to test the planks’ design first and then cut them to shape with a jigsaw. Ensure always following the manufacturer’s instructions during this step, as different laminate flooring types will require a different installation system.
ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on May 4, 2021.