How to Install Laminate Flooring on Concrete

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laminate flooring on concrete

Installing laminate flooring over concrete can be a very manageable and realistic project to take on yourself. Laminate flooring has many benefits along with a few downsides. Laminate flooring can be installed over various concrete surfaces including a concrete basement, concrete subfloor, concrete stairs or concrete steps. We discuss the proper process for installing laminate flooring over concrete in the section below and all the necessary preparation beforehand.

How do I Lay Laminate Flooring on Concrete?

The steps detailed below will guide you on how to properly install laminate flooring over concrete:

How to Install Laminate Flooring on Concrete? How do I lay laminate flooring on concrete?

1. Acclimatize the Laminate Floorboards to the Room

After purchasing your laminate planks, you should store them in the room in which they are to be installed for up to 72 hours before proceeding with the installation. This allows enough time for the planks to acclimatize to the room’s humidity and temperature, which can prevent the laminate flooring from separating.

2. Prep the Subfloor

Before you lay your laminate floorboards over the existing subfloor, you’ll want to ensure that the concrete surface is clean, dry, cured, and level. For instance, we wouldn’t recommend installing laminate flooring over new concrete subfloor that’s less than a month old as this is the duration it typically takes for concrete to cure properly. 

Also, a dry concrete surface helps prevent warping and bubbling of the laminate planks. You can measure how wet/dry your concrete surface is before laminate installation by using a moisture meter or concrete moisture test kit.

Meanwhile, you can rid the surface of dirt and debris by sweeping it or vacuuming it. Finally, you need to check how level the concrete surface is using a long level. Any variances higher than 3/16th of an inch for every 10-feet isn’t good for laminate flooring installation and will have to be fixed using a concrete grinder. 

The grinder also works to smoothen the concrete surface, as laminate planks don’t install well on rough surfaces. The troughs, meanwhile, can be filled in by using a leveling compound.

3. Install Underlayment

The main problem with a concrete subfloor is that it’s prone to moisture problems, due to its porous structure. As such, you need to install underlayment material to act as a vapor barrier before laying down your laminate planks. Failure to do so will lead to increased chances of structural issues like warping in the future. Some of the materials that we’d recommend as an underlayment for effective moisture proofing include foam barriers, vinyl-backed underlayment, and cork underlayment.

4. Install the Laminate Planks

After preparing the concrete subfloor and installing a vapor barrier, it’s time to lay down your laminate flooring over the surface. Most commercially available floating laminate floorboards boast a click-lock system, whereby the tongues and grooves on the planks are matched during installation.

It’s advisable to start installing from the farthest corner in the room. Also, ensure to leave a ¼-inch expansion gap along all edges of the room as you install the floorboards. The gap is meant to facilitate plank expansion. The other thing you’ll want to consider is staggering the planks as you install them for better structural support. Finally, cut and shape the last plank in each row you lay down to fit the remaining space.

What Do I Need to Lay Laminate Flooring on Concrete?

To properly install laminate flooring over concrete, you’ll need the following tools and supplies:

How to Install Laminate Flooring on Concrete? What do I need to lay laminate flooring on concrete?
  1. Laminate floorboards– this is the main supply for this project and you need to buy 10% more flooring planks than you’d calculated for your room area to cover for wastage.
  2. Underlayment– you should purchase quality underlayment that will effectively keep moisture from affecting your flooring.
  3. Construction accessories– these may include measurement and cutting tools like a tape measure, a pencil, a saw, and a rubber mallet.
  4. Trowel for applying leveling compound during the subfloor preparation stage.
  5. Personal protective equipment– a safety helmet, a pair of hand gloves, and safety goggles should always be part of your safety apparel for every DIY construction project you undertake.

Can You Put Laminate Flooring Directly on Concrete?

While you can install laminate flooring directly on top of your concrete surface, it isn’t advisable. This is because concrete is porous and will soak up moisture, leading to vapor damage on your laminate planks. Instead, we’d recommend installing underlayment to act as a vapor barrier between the concrete subfloor and the laminate floorboards.

Can You Glue Laminate Flooring to Concrete Floor?

Gluing laminate flooring to a concrete floor is not advised. The reason this isn’t a good idea is because laminate flooring is a floating floor that supports itself through a locking system. It should have no adhesive connection to the subfloor.

Do I Need Underlayment for Laminate Flooring on Concrete?

To avoid structural issues, you will need underlayment for your laminate flooring when installing them onto concrete. The underlayment creates a moisture barrier between the concrete and the laminate boards and without it, your laminate flooring could become damaged or warped.

Can You iInstall Laminate Flooring on Uneven Concrete?

You should avoid installing laminate floorboards over a concrete surface that’s not level, as this will trigger structural issues. For instance, the laminate planks may start warping whenever you step on boards above a humped up spot on the concrete subfloor beneath it.

What’s more, you’re bound to hear irritating noises every time you step on laminate flooring that was installed on uneven concrete. This is because the high and low points in the concrete subfloor create air pockets, which then produce the loud ‘pop’ sounds when pressure is applied from above. The best way to go about installing laminate flooring to concrete is to first level the concrete surface for fast and quality installation.

How Flat Does Concrete Floor Need to Be for Laminate?

There shouldn’t be any variance exceeding 3/16th of an inch for every 10 feet of floor space. If this is the case, you’ll have to level your concrete surface by sanding the high spots and filling in the low spots. The right tools for doing so are a concrete sander and a cement-based leveling compound.

Here is a helpful video on how to install laminate flooring on concrete:

How to Install Vinyl or Laminate Floors in a Basement (Over a Concrete Slab)

From Boring Concrete Slab to the Laminate Floors of Your Dreams

Turning your concrete floors into gorgeous laminate flooring can be done as a DIY. With the proper tools and the right installation, the whole process can be quite easy and rewarding for many homeowners.

Best of luck!

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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

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