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General

All About Laminate

Choosing Laminate Flooring

Flooring Material
Flooring System
Finishing Up
Design Decisions

Stuff You'll Need

Calculating Flooring Needs
Tools for Laminate Flooring

Getting It Done

Preparing the Room
Smoothing The Subfloor
Dealing With Moisture
Installing Flooring
Working Around Obstacles
Finishing the Job
Reinstalling Shoe Moldings
Dealing With Steps
Maintaining the Floor

Additional Articles

AC Ratings Explained
What is Laminate Flooring?
Facts About Glueless Laminate Flooring 
Flooring Underlayment - Types and Uses
Measuring for Moldings/Trim
   

All About Hardwood

All About Area Rugs

 
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Working Around Obstacles

Not every floor is obstacle free.  You'll have to modify planks to fit around obstacles such as pipes and toilets.  If you're lucky, you can just drill holes in the plank then slip it over the obstacle, but you're more likely to have to cut it. Whenever you can, remove the object, install flooring under it, and replace it.   If you can cut the flooring to fit around the obstacle, always leave a 1/4" gap for expansion.  Fill these expansion gaps with silicone caulk once the flooring glue has dried.  Caulk keeps moisture from seeping into the core of the planks.  It's especially important in a bathroom or kitchen.
 

Making the obstacle position on the plank
Install the floor up to the obstacle - in this case, pipes.  Make a mark on the front and side of the pipe.  Set the end of a plank near the pipes and transfer the center points from the pipes to the plank with a china marker and a combination square (left).  Place the plank on top of the last plank you installed, and butt it against spacers, as shown.  Draw a line across the width of the plank to mark the pipe centers (right).
  Drilling the holes
Clamp the plank face-up on a piece of plywood on a work table.  Drill through the center of the crossed lines - using a Forstner bit instead of a spade bit results in a neater hole  The bit must be 1/2" wider than the pipes to leave a proper-size expansion gap on all sides.



Dividing the plank
On the back of the plank, draw a line through the center of the drill holes.  Lay the plank on a piece of plywood on a work bench and clamp it in place.  Using a straight 1x3 as a guide, cut along the marked line with a circular saw fitted with a carbide-tipped blade.
Installing the pieces
Place a pair of spacers against he wall behind the pipes.  Position and glue the larger of the cut pieces to its neighbors.  Fill the groove3 and cut edge of the smaller piece with glue.  Then slip the smaller piece between the spacer and the larger piece.  With a pull bar and hammer, tap the pieces together and against the neighboring plank.  Wipe away excess glue.


Getting Around Larger Obstacles

Toilets and bathtubs are common larger obstacles.  (Some manufacturers advise against installing laminate in bathrooms.)

  • To fit flooring around a toilet, first remove the toilet and plug the drainpipe with a damp cloth to block toxic sewer gases.  Scrape the old wax seal off the flange.  Dry-lay flooring up to the flange.  With a combination square, draw a box to indicate the out edges of the flange on the plank.  Use the same method for marking pipes.  Bend a flexi-curve to the shape of the flange (below left).  Place the flexi-curve on the plank so its inside edges touch the box.  Trace around the outside to lay out a hole with the proper size expansion gap.  Cut along the inside of the marked circle with a saber saw. (The thickness of the flexi-curve creates the expansion gap.)  Cut and fit the planks as for another obstacles.  Seal around the flange with silicone caulk.  When the floor dries, reconnect the toilet.
  • Treat immovable objects like tubs as you would a normal wall.  Start the first row at the tub's edge.  Fill the expansion space with silicone sealant (below right) .  Smooth it with a wet finger.


Dividing a plank

Installing the pieces

 


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