Laminate floors need a strong and durable subfloor. So, can you install it on concrete?
You can install laminate floors on concrete. To do so, clean the surface, lay a waterproof underlayment, and install the 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 floor. You shouldn’t install it 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 flooring too. You need an underlayment between the concrete and the floor to prevent this.
Concrete surfaces are strong enough to withstand and support the laminate floors without an underlayment. But, their porosity can affect the floor. If the subfloor is affected by flood, broken pipes, or a leak, it will allow water to pass through and reach the planks too.
If the planks are exposed to water from underneath, they will warp or swell. This is why installing laminate planks directly over a concrete surface isn’t recommended.
A waterproof underlayment will prevent the water from reaching the floor. It will act as a “barrier” between the subfloor (concrete) and laminate planks. So, if the subfloor is exposed to water, the underlayment will stop (prevent) the water from penetrating or damaging the planks.
Types of Underlayments To Use:
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 flooring.
Here are the top 4 underlayments you can use:
1. Cork Underlayment
Cork underlayment is made from cork material that is harvested from the bark of the Cork Oak tree. The texture of the cork underlayment is rough but, in a smooth way. Cork underlayment is waterproof and provides great insulation and conformity.
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 subfloor won’t reach the planks. This underlayment is soft and comfortable, meaning it provides cushioning between the subfloor and 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 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 surface, install the underlayment, and then install the planks.
Here are the tools you need:
- A bucket of water
- A floor brush
- A mop
- A rubber mallet
- A chisel
- A pair of gloves
- Random orbital sander
- Tape measure
- Laminate adhesive (optional)
1. Wash and Clean The Subfloor
First, wash and clean the subfloor. If you don’t clean it, the dirt and dust can affect the planks (if you use glue). Also, if there’s too much dirt on the subfloor, the flooring won’t be even.
To clean concrete:
- Mix detergent with warm water.
- Apply the mixture to the surface.
- Use a brush to scrub it.
- Use a mop to wipe off the mixture residue and clean the floor.
- Allow the concrete to dry for 24 hours.
2. Prep and Smoothen The Concrete Surface
If the subfloor has dents, cracks, lines, or holes, you must fix these before installing planks. Cracks and holes will prevent the locking mechanism to work properly.
To fix imperfections:
- Apply the concrete paste.
- Remove the excess paste from the surface.
- Allow the paste to dry (12 hours).
- Sand the paste (to make it even with the rest of the surface).
- Remove the dust using a vacuum.
3. Take Measurements
Use a tape measure to take accurate measurements of the floor and write down the width and length of it. Using the measurements you will know how many planks you need.
4. 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 and cover the whole floor. Trim the underlayment for the needed size requirements (use the measurement you took earlier).
5. Install The Laminate Planks
After you install the underlayment, install the laminate planks.
To install laminate on concrete:
- Start from the largest side of the floor.
- Gradually work your way to the smaller side.
- If needed, use laminate glue to make the planks stick better.
- Leave enough acclimation gaps between the planks.
- Use the locking mechanism to lock the planks with each other.
- Use a rubber mallet to gently tap the planks so they fit.
- Wait 48 hours for the floor to acclimate before installing the baseboard trims and wall fittings.
- Wait 3 days before placing heavy furniture over the floor.
Gluing Laminate Planks
You can glue laminate planks on a concrete floor, but the surface must be clean and smooth. If the surface is dusty or filthy, the glue won’t bond properly to the subfloor.
Also, you must use strong laminate glue and not regular floor glue. That’s because regular glue isn’t as strong and won’t hold the planks in place. But, gluing planks on the subfloor isn’t mandatory. That’s because laminate is a floating floor and will stay over smooth surfaces without glue.
Laminate is formed by arranging several planks of boards side by side and interlocking them using a tongue and groove locking mechanism. As long as you arrange the planks properly using the locks, they will stay in one place without using a glue.
However, if the concrete feels patchy, you can use glue beneath the planks to make them stick well. You should only use a strong laminate floor adhesive and also ensure that the adhesive is compatible with the type of laminate floor that you have.
How Long Does The Floor Last?
Laminate flooring with a waterproof underlayment will last up to 20 years on a concrete subfloor. However, the room weather, weight, traffic, and usage will determine how long it will last.
If laminate flooring is exposed to high-traffic and heavy furniture, it will last less than 20 years. However, if the flooring isn’t exposed to high foot traffic or heavy furniture, it will last 20 years.
The underlayment used also determines how long the floor will last. For instance, if you use a waterproof underlayment, the concrete laminate flooring will last longer. That’s because a waterproof underlayment will protect the floor from moisture and water.
Finally, the room where the planks are installed also determines how long they will last. For instance, if the laminate floor was installed over a bedroom concrete floor, it will last over 20 years because bedroom floors aren’t highly exposed to water or traffic.
However, if the floor was installed on a bathroom floor, the planks won’t last 5 years because they will be exposed to moisture and water that damage them quickly.
You can install laminate flooring over a concrete floor, but the surface 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 they are exposed to water, the water can get to the planks if you don’t use an underlayment. Also, you don’t need to glue the planks on an even subfloor because the locking mechanisms will keep them in place.
Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about,