How to Install Laminate Flooring on Concrete? (5 Steps)

Most homeowners with concrete subfloors wonder how to install a laminate floor on concrete properly. Here is the answer to that.

To install a laminate floor over concrete, you need to first ensure that the concrete surface is clean, even, and dry. After, you should lay a waterproof underlayment on the concrete to prevent water damage. The final step is to click and lock the laminate planks on the underlayment.

However, you should know that you can only install laminate flooring over concrete that is at least 6 weeks old. You should never install a laminate floor over new concrete because the concrete wouldn’t have cured enough to support the weight and traffic from a laminate floor.

This post reveals more about installing a laminate floor on concrete including a 5-step guide to complete the task. Let’s dive in.

Can You Put Laminate Flooring Directly On Concrete?

You can put laminate flooring directly on a concrete surface but you shouldn’t. The reason for this is that concrete subfloors are usually moisture-prone due to the porous structure of the concrete.

So, if the concrete subfloor is affected by moisture, the laminate planks will also be affected and this can cause problems with the laminate floor including warping and mold growth. This is why a waterproof underlayment is required to serve as a moisture barrier between the concrete and laminate planks.

Ordinarily, a concrete surface is strong enough to support a laminate floor. So, putting a laminate floor directly over concrete shouldn’t be a problem, right? Wrong!

Though the concrete material is strong enough to carry a laminate floor, the strength of the concrete isn’t the concern. It’s the porosity that matters. Concrete is a porous material that allows moisture to seep through.

So if your subfloor is affected by water either due to a flood, broken pipe, or leak, the concrete will allow the water to pass through. Installing a laminate floor directly over concrete means that the water from the concrete will reach the laminate planks and nothing damages a laminate floor faster than water.

If the laminate planks are exposed to water from underneath the flooring, the planks can warp, swell, and even develop mold. This is why a waterproof underlay is required between the concrete and laminate planks. The underlay serves as a barrier to keep the water away from the laminate planks.

So, what’s the best type of underlayment to use on a concrete floor? Let’s find out.

What Is The Best Underlay For Laminate Flooring On A Concrete Floor?

What Is The Best Underlay For Laminate Flooring On A Concrete Floor?

The best underlayment for laminate flooring on a concrete floor has to be waterproof, comfortable, and soundproof. The best underlayment should also be at least 3 mils thick so it can support the weight and traffic from laminate flooring.

Here are the top 4 types of underlayment that have the above-mentioned features:

1. Cork Underlayment

Cork underlayment is made from cork material that is harvested from the barks of the Cork Oak tree. The texture of cork underlayment is usually rough but in a smooth way. One advantage of cork underlayment is that it is waterproof and this makes it a great fit for concrete subfloor. Cork underlayment also provides great insulation and comfort. So even during the winter months, your laminate floor will still feel warm.

Cork underlayment is also bulky as the underlay can be over 6mm thick but don’t let the thickness frighten you. Cork underlayment is very affordable and can cost as low as $1.5 per square foot (depending on the brand). In addition to that, cork underlayment is also durable.

2. Vinyl-Back Underlayment

Vinyl-back underlayment is another top-quality underlay to use on a concrete floor. The back layer of this underlayment is made from waterproof polyvinyl chloride which means that moisture from the concrete subfloor will never affect the laminate planks.

The vinyl-back underlayment is also soft and comfortable meaning that the laminate planks will be easy on your feet. The underlayment provides cushioning between the concrete subfloor and the laminate planks.

3. Foam Barrier Underlayment

Foam barrier underlayment is another worthy mention. However, not all foam barrier underlayments are completely waterproof. So, you should look for only the ones with additional waterproofing.

The best types of foam padding to use on concrete are the ones made from polypropylene and polyethylene. Polypropylene for instance is a waterproof fabric used in coating the foam barrier underlayment.

Asides from being waterproof, foam barrier underlayment is also comfortable, soundproof, and easy to install. The underlay is also affordable and is widely regarded as the cheapest underlayment option.

How Do You Prepare a Concrete Floor For Laminate Flooring?

To prep a concrete floor for laminate flooring, you need to clean, wash, and smoothen the concrete. You also need to allow the concrete floor to cure for at least 6 weeks. As long as the concrete floor is clean, smooth, and dry, you can install a laminate floor on it but ensure that a waterproof underlayment is installed first.

Prepping a concrete floor for laminate planks installation isn’t a tough task though it can be time-consuming. The reason for this is that you need to ensure the concrete is clean and smooth. To do this, you’ll first need to wash the concrete and leave it to dry. You can also use floor cleaners to remove tough stains.

When the concrete is clean and dry, it needs to be smooth so the underlayment and the laminate planks can also be smooth. If the concrete floor isn’t smooth, you’ll need to smoothen it using a random orbital floor sander and sandpaper.

However, prepping the concrete for laminate floor application is just one step in installing laminate flooring over a concrete floor. Let’s check out the full steps below.

How To Install Laminate Flooring On Concrete In 5 Easy Steps

Installing laminate flooring over concrete isn’t difficult but the type of result that you get on your floor depends on the method of application.

Not to worry though, this post reveals the best method to install a laminate floor on a concrete floor. First, we’ll need a few tools and supplies:

  • Detergent
  • A bucket of water
  • A floor brush
  • A mop
  • A rubber mallet
  • A chisel
  • A pair of gloves
  • Random orbital sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Tape measure
  • Laminate adhesive (optional)

1. Wash and Clean The Concrete Subfloor

Wash and Clean The Concrete Subfloor

The first step is to wash and clean the concrete subfloor. Concrete material does well to hide stains and some of these stains may affect your laminate flooring especially if you would be using laminate adhesive on the concrete.

So, it’s important to clean the concrete. To do this, mix some detergent in a bucket of water. Then use the soap mixture and a floor brush to scrub the concrete floor. After, use a mop to wipe the floor. Ensure to leave the concrete floor for at least 24 hours after washing it to dry.

2. Prep and Smoothen The Concrete Surface

Prep and Smoothen The Concrete Surface

The next step is to prep the concrete. To do this, start by repairing the dents, cracks, and lines in the concrete floor with concrete paste.

After using the concrete paste, you’ll need to leave the concrete to dry for about 12 hours before sanding it with sandpaper and a sander. After sanding, ensure to remove the dust and vacuum the concrete.

3. Take Measurements

Take Measurements

You should use a tape measure to take accurate measurements of the concrete floor. You should measure the width and length of the concrete floor.

This allows you to know the needed size requirements of the concrete floor. This way, you know if you’ll need to trim the laminate planks to size or not. You also get to know which laminate plank goes where.

4. Install Underlayment

Install Underlayment

The next step is to install the underlayment. You need a laminate underlayment that is at least 3 or 4 mils thick.

Installing a laminate floor underlayment on concrete is easy because all you need to do is to lay the underlayment on the concrete.

You may need to use a pair of large scissors to trim the underlayment to the needed size requirements. You should ensure to use only a waterproof underlayment on the concrete to prevent water damage to the laminate planks.

5. Install The Laminate Planks

Install The Laminate Planks

It’s advised to install the laminate planks starting from the largest side of the concrete floor. Then gradually work your way to the smaller side where you’ll have to use smaller laminate planks.

Remember to use a strong laminate adhesive if needed to make the laminate floor stick better. While installing the planks, ensure to leave acclimation gaps to allow the planks to move and adjust freely.

After installing the laminate planks, you can use a rubber mallet to gently tap the planks so they fit perfectly. When you have installed the laminate planks correctly, you should leave the floor for at least 48 hours before reinstalling baseboard trims and wall fittings. You should leave the floor for 3 days before moving heavy furniture on it.

Can You Glue Laminate Flooring To Concrete Floor?

You can glue a laminate floor to a concrete floor but you have to ensure that the concrete surface is clean and smooth. If the concrete is dusty or filthy, the laminate adhesive will not bond properly to the concrete material.

You also need to ensure that you use a strong laminate adhesive as regular floor glue will not hold on to the concrete material. You should know that laminate glue isn’t always needed on concrete.

Laminate adhesive isn’t usually needed when installing laminate flooring over a concrete floor. This is because laminate is a floating floor meaning that it will stay on any smooth material like your concrete floor.

Laminate flooring is formed by arranging several planks of laminate boards side by side and interlocking the planks using a tongue and groove locking mechanism. As long as you arrange the planks properly using the locks, the laminate flooring will stay well on concrete even without using glue

However, if the concrete feels patchy, you can use glue beneath the laminate planks to make them stick well. You should only use a strong laminate floor adhesive on concrete and also ensure that the adhesive is compatible with the type of laminate floor that you have.

How Long Does Laminate Floor Last On Concrete?

Laminate flooring lasts between 10 and 20 years on a concrete base. On average, a laminate floor will last about 15 years on concrete. However, you should know that the laminate floor will only last this long on concrete if a waterproof underlayment is used. The room, weather, weight, and traffic that the installed laminate floor is exposed to all determine how long it will last.

Laminate flooring is known to last up to 20 years if the floor was installed properly. The use of underlayment on a clean and dry concrete floor provides insulation, comfort, waterproofing, soundproofing, and support to the laminate planks making the planks more durable and long-lasting.

If the concrete isn’t prepped, the laminate planks may not last up to 5 years especially if an underlayment isn’t used on the concrete before installing the laminate planks. Using low-quality laminate planks on concrete will also not last long.

Finally, the room the laminate planks were installed on concrete also determines how long the laminate planks last on concrete. For instance, if the laminate floor was installed over a bedroom concrete floor, you can expect the floor to last over 20 years because bedroom floors aren’t highly exposed to water or traffic.

However, if the laminate floor was installed on a bathroom concrete floor, the planks may not even last 5 years because the laminate planks will be exposed to moisture, soap, filth, and other conditions that will ruin the laminate floor quickly.

Final Words

In summary, you can install laminate flooring over a concrete floor or subfloor as long as the concrete surface is clean, smooth, and fully dry.

You should also remember to use a waterproof underlayment to serve as a moisture barrier between the concrete floor and the laminate planks.

Finally, you don’t have to glue the laminate planks to the concrete subfloor because the tongue and groove locks will keep the laminate planks in place.

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