Choosing your flooring is among the first decisions you make when installing or redecorating your kitchen. Several considerations affect this decision, including the size of your kitchen, what your budget is, and whether your flooring needs to be pet-friendly. One of the most popular flooring options is laminate flooring – but can (and should) it be installed in kitchens?
You can put laminate flooring in your kitchens. However, you will need to be careful when installing it, as laminate isn’t waterproof. You need to install appropriate vapor barrier underlayment to protect the flooring from moisture. You’ll also have to clean up any spills immediately.
This article will take a look at whether or not you should install laminate flooring in your kitchen, as well as the pros and cons of doing so. I’ll also examine the considerations to keep in mind when choosing the flooring for your kitchen and look at how to install laminate.
Can I and Should I Install Laminate Flooring in My Kitchen?
As mentioned above, it is possible to install laminate flooring in kitchens. However, before you decide whether this is the right choice for you and your kitchen, several considerations are worth keeping in mind.
Here’s a look at the pros and cons of installing laminate in the kitchen:
Laminate could be a good choice for the kitchen because:
- Laminate is a great choice aesthetically. It’s available in a diverse range of different styles, colors, and patterns, so it’d be easy to find an option that meets the design style you’re aiming for. You also don’t have to stain the laminate to color match it to the rest of the house.
- It’s affordable. Laminate is significantly cheaper than other kitchen flooring options, such as hardwood, vinyl, tile, and natural stone. Furthermore, installation is relatively simple, allowing you to handle it yourself and save on installation costs. If you hire a professional, they’ll likely charge you less than they would for other types of flooring.
- Laminate is durable. All laminate floors include a thin, clear wear layer on top of every piece. This layer protects the surface of the laminate from scratches and stains and ensures that the color does not fade.
- There is relatively little maintenance involved. Another advantage of the wear layer is that it makes clean-up easy. It serves as a smooth layer, protecting spills from sticking to the floor. All you need to do is sweep and clean with a damp mop as necessary.
- It’s relatively long-lasting. Laminate can last between 15-25 years, with some high-quality options retaining their look for up to 30 years if maintained properly.
Laminate may not be the best idea for the kitchen because:
- Laminate is susceptible to moisture damage. While laminate floors are water-resistant, they aren’t completely waterproof. If moisture sits on top of laminate for an extended period, the damp can result in warping and staining. This is why immediate clean-up of spills, especially liquid spills, is essential.
- It cannot be refinished. Once laminate wears out, it’ll need to be replaced entirely. This can be an issue if certain areas wear out faster than others – you may want to purchase extra pieces to replace as the floor wears down instead of being forced to replace your entire flooring for a single area’s worth of damage.
- Laminate is susceptible to static. This is a particular problem if you live in a dry environment. Static is made worse by the build-up of dust, so you can mitigate this issue by ensuring your laminate floors are clean.
- It’s not eco-friendly. If you’re high on using eco-friendly materials in your home, laminate may not be the right option for you. This flooring doesn’t break down easily in landfills and is often made using toxic materials known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, it’s possible to find laminate made from sustainable, recycled materials.
Besides considering these pros and cons, you’ll also need to consider whether you can find the laminate you like that also has the AC rating you prefer. While AC2 or AC3 should be okay for home use, many people prefer to opt for AC4 when using laminate in their kitchens.
If you decide that laminate is the right choice for your home, you can install the flooring.
How to Install Laminate in Kitchen
To install laminate in the kitchen, you need to choose an underlayment, gather the right tools, and follow our step-by-step guide:
Choose a Moisture-Proof Underlayment
Laminate installation is a relatively simple process. It’s important to remember that you’ll also need to install a layer of underlayment to protect your floors from moisture. Foam is usually the material of choice, as it offers a sound muffling quality.
When choosing an underlayment, make sure to choose one that comes with a vapor barrier attached, such as the Floorlot Underlayment. The vapor barrier is what will protect your floor from moisture, and choosing one that’s attached to your underlayment makes the installation process significantly easier.
Tools and Materials to Install Laminate in the Kitchen
- Panel saw
- Claw hammer
- Nail setters
- Carpenter squares
- Circular saw
- Tape measure
- Finishing nails
- Caulk and sealant
Once you have the underlayment, you can start the installation process. To install your laminate floors, follow these steps:
- Prepare the kitchen. Remove any existing flooring, and make sure that the subfloor is flat, clean, and solid. If your underlayment and vapor barrier are two separate products, lay down the vapor barrier.
- Ensure the door jambs fit. Check the height of your laminate and cut the molding to fit. Trace a guideline of the molding and use a jamb saw to cut.
- Make a plan. Measure the width of the room to determine how wide the final row of planks will be. Remember to leave 3/8 inch gaps along both walls to allow for natural expansion of the floors.
- Cut out the first and last rows according to your measurements. I recommend using a saw with a diamond blade to do so, as laminate is tough to cut through and could damage weaker blades.
- Install the underlayment. If you’re using laminate flooring with attached underlayment, you can skip this step. Make sure the underlayment meets but doesn’t overlap – overlaps will cause bumps under the flooring. Duct tape the seams to better maintain the vapor barrier and hold the underlayment in place.
- Install the first row of planks. As mentioned previously, make sure to leave 3/8 inch along the wall to allow for natural expansion and contraction. When laying the first row, make sure the tongues are facing the wall. If possible, start installing on the door side of the room so that you get clean edges at the threshold.
- Finish laying the laminate. Install the rest of the rows, making sure to stagger the seams for added stability and a more natural look. Make sure the seams are tight and there are no gaps to protect against moisture damage.
- Install the threshold, baseboard, and molding.
During the installation, remember to use laminate glue to seal the planks. This step helps add an extra layer of protection from water damage and is particularly important in areas at high risk of moisture issues, such as in front of the dishwasher or the sink.
Additionally, make sure to use a square edge design if possible. This step provides a tighter lock between planks than beveled edge designs, reducing the risk of water damage.