By Gene and Katie Hamilton
For a hardworking floor surface, you can't go wrong with prefinished laminate planks. They're affordable and easy to install, and they come in many styles and colors. Many lines of the laminate plank flooring provide a built-in underlayment - an installation shortcut that gives the surface the realistic sound of natural wood planks. Some require an adhesive for the tongue and groove edge that locks them together, others are glueless. You'll find a large selection of laminate floor planks for sale at flooring and home centers and online.
Some laminate floors are called "floating" because they are installed directly over a floor or subfloor that is dry, level and smooth. They are not glued in place, they’re laid on top of an underlayment sheet of foam. The planks fit together like tongue and grooves and then are secured around the perimeter of the room with baseboard molding. To acclimate floor planks to the room where they’ll be installed, store the unopened cartons in the room for at least two days before beginning the job. Give them 4 days if it’s extremely dry or humid.
You can save almost half of what an installer charges if you do it yourself. A flooring installer will charge $2,464 to lay a moderately priced laminate plank floor in a 15-by-20- foot room using a floor adhesive. This includes the labor and material. That's assuming there is a sound, level subfloor or underlayment that the planks can go over. You can buy the materials for $1,275 and do it yourself, saving 48 percent. Manufacturers have unique installation tools, which are specified on the package and sold with the flooring. The tools include a pulling bar to help nudge two pieces together, a tapping block designed to fit the tongue and groove, V-shaped spacers or wedges that insure a minimum gap between the flooring and walls, straps that help pull rows of planks together and glue. Some manufacturers also offer fillers and sealants.
This is a weekend job for a homeowner, and it will take that long. A flooring contractor because of his experience will complete the job faster. Allow time to remove all the furniture in the room and shopping time for the material.
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Home Advisor, a local referral service that connects homeowners with flooring contractors in your area.
Interior Design Wonder How to offers this video: Install Your Own Floating Vinyl Plank Flooring.
That sums it up. Knowing the average cost to install a plank floor lets you compare doing it yourself with what you can expect to pay a contractor. To customize the cost to where you live add your ZIP Code in the cost box.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2020