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

Laminate floors need a strong and durable subfloor. So, can you install laminate floors on concrete?

You can install laminate floors concrete. To do so, clean the concrete surface, lay a waterproof underlayment over the concrete, and install the laminate planks. 

However, the concrete must be at least 6 weeks old before installing laminate over it. That’s because it takes concrete 6 weeks to become hard and durable enough to withstand the weight and traffic from the laminate floors. You shouldn’t install laminate on newly (fresh) concrete surfaces. 

Don’t Install Laminate Planks Directly

You shouldn’t put laminate floors directly over concrete. That’s because concrete surfaces are porous and moisture-prone. So, if the concrete is affected by moisture, it will cause problems for the laminate flooring too. You need an underlayment between the concrete and the laminate floor to prevent this.

Concrete surfaces are strong enough to withstand and support the laminate floors without an underlayment. But, the porosity of the concrete surfaces can affect the floor. If the concrete is affected by flood, broken pipes, or a leak, the concrete will allow water to pass through and reach the laminate planks too.

If the laminate planks are exposed to water from underneath, the planks will warp or swell. This is installing laminate planks directly over concrete surfaces isn’t recommended. 

A waterproof underlayment will prevent the water from reaching the laminate floors. It will act as a “barrier” between the subfloor (concrete) and laminate planks. So, if the concrete is exposed to water, the underlayment will stop (prevent) the water from penetrating or damaging the laminate floors. 

Types of Underlayments To Use:

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

The underlayment for laminate planks on concrete floors must be waterproof, comfortable, and soundproof. Also, it must be 3 mils (mil2) thick so it can support the weight and traffic from the laminate flooring. 

Here are the top 4 laminate underlay for concrete floors:

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 rough but, in a smooth way. Cork underlayment is waterproof and provides great insulation and conform. 

It’s a great underlayment to use between concrete and laminate. This underlayment is 6mm thick, durable, affordable, and comfortable. 

2. Vinyl-Back Underlayment

The back layer of Vinyl-back underlayment is made of waterproof polyvinyl chlorine, meaning the moisture from concrete won’t reach the laminate planks. This underlayment is soft and comfortable, meaning it provides cushioning between the concrete subfloor and laminate planks. 

3. Foam Barrier Underlayment

You can use a waterproof foam barrier underlayment under the laminate planks. Choose a foam padding that is made of polypropylene and polyethylene. These are two waterproof fabrics that will prevent water from penetrating the laminate planks. 

Also, the Foam barrier underlayment is comfortable, soundproof, easy to install, and affordable. In fact, is one of the cheapest underlayments. 

How To Install Laminate Flooring On Concrete?

Installing laminate flooring over concrete isn’t hard; you just need to prep the concrete, install the underlayment, and then install the planks. 

Here are the tools you need:

  • 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

First, wash and clean the concrete subfloor. If you don’t clean the concrete, the dirt and dust can affect the laminate planks (if you use glue). Also, if there’s too much dirt on the concrete, the laminate flooring won’t be even. 

To clean concrete:

  1. Mix detergent with warm water. 
  2. Apply the mixture to the concrete.
  3. Use a floor brush to scrub the concrete floor.
  4. Use a mop to wipe off the mixture residue and clean the floor.
  5. Allow the concrete to dry for 24 hours. 

2. Prep and Smoothen The Concrete Surface

Prep and Smoothen The Concrete Surface

If the concrete floor has dents, cracks, lines, or holes, you must fix these before installing laminate planks. Cracks and holes will prevent the laminate locking mechanism to work properly. 

To fix concrete imperfections:

  1. Apply concrete paste. 
  2. Remove the excess paste from the concrete.
  3. Allow the concrete paste to dry (12 hours).
  4. Sand the concrete paste (to make it even with the rest of the surface). 
  5. Remove the dust using a vacuum. 

3. Take Measurements

Take Measurements

Use a tape measure to take accurate measurements of the concrete floor. Write down the width and length of the floor. Using the measurements you will know how many laminate planks you need. 

4. Install Underlayment

Install Underlayment

Before installing the laminate planks on concrete, install a waterproof underlayment. The underlayment must be thicker than 3 mils. 

To install an underlayment, lay the underlayment on the concrete and cover the whole floor. Trim the underlayment for the needed size requirements (use the measurement you took earlier). 

5. Install The Laminate Planks

Install The Laminate Planks

After you install the underlayment, install the laminate planks. 

To install laminate on concrete: 

  1. Start from the largest side of the concrete floor.
  2. Gradually work your way to the smaller side.
  3. If needed, use laminate glue to make the planks stick better. 
  4. Leave enough acclimation gaps between the planks. 
  5. Use the locking mechanism to lock the planks with each other. 
  6. Use a rubber mallet to gently tap the planks so they fit. 
  7. Wait 48 hours for the laminate floor to acclimate before installing the baseboard trims and wall fittings. 
  8. Wait 3 days before placing heavy furniture over the laminate planks. 

Gluing Laminate Planks

You can glue laminate planks on a concrete floor, but the concrete must be clean and smooth. If the concrete is dusty or filthy, the laminate glue won’t bond properly to the concrete material.

Also, you must use strong laminate glue and not regular floor glue. That’s because regular floor glue isn’t as strong and won’t hold the laminate planks on concrete. 

However, gluing laminate planks on concrete isn’t mandatory. That’s because laminate is a floating floor and will stay over smooth surfaces without glue. 

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.

Laminate Floor Lifespan on Concrete

Laminate flooring with a waterproof underlayment will last up to 20 years on a concrete subfloor. However, the room weather, weight, traffic, and usage of the installed laminate floor determine its lifespan. 

If laminate flooring is exposed to high-traffic and heavy furniture, it will last less than 20 years. However, if laminate flooring isn’t exposed to high foot traffic or heavy furniture, the floor will last 20 years. 

The underlayment used also determines the lifespan of laminate flooring. If you use a waterproof underlayment, the concrete laminate flooring will last longer. That’s because a waterproof underlayment will protect the floor from underneath moisture and water. 

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, the floor will 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 won’t last 5 years because the laminate planks will be exposed to moisture and water that will ruin the laminate floor quickly.

Final Words

You can install laminate flooring over a concrete floor, but the concrete must be clean, smooth, and even. Also, you must use a waterproof underlayment to prevent water leaks from affecting the laminate floors. 

Concrete surfaces are porous, so if the concrete is exposed to water, the water can get to the laminate planks if you don’t use an underlayment. 

Also, you don’t need to glue the laminate planks on even concrete because the locking mechanisms will keep the planks in place. 

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