Despite the proliferation of glueless installation systems, there are still a number of problems with laminate installation. Columnist Jon Namba addresses these problems and offers troubleshooting tips for laminate and carpet installations.

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Laminate

With the introduction of the click type laminates and the glueless systems, the number of installation issues due to improper adhesive application is a thing of the past. So with the introduction of all the new systems what worries do we have? There are still issues with understanding each manufacturer's specific installation guidelines.

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Do you start with the tongue edge toward the wall or do you start with the groove side toward the wall? Do you start from left to right or right to left, as there are some floors that require a certain direction when installing. Generally, the tap and lock type laminates that are installed flat without angling the plank to fit are installed groove side to the wall. The angle in type of laminate installations generally have the tongue toward the wall.

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The rule of thumb: follow each manufacturer's recommended installation procedures to ensure that the manufacturer will stand behind the product and support your installation techniques. Photo 1 is one of those instances where the installer could easily have undercut the door casing as it is a wood frame. This installation did have proper spacing but manufacturer recommendations for undercutting wooden door frames were not followed.

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Okay, so we follow the manufacturer's recommended procedures but there seems to always be a situation where the installers have to "make it happen."



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One particular area that an installer must think outside the box is metal door casings.



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Metal door casings are generally used in commercial applications and building codes do not allow for metal door casings to be cut. When installing a floating laminate floor, space for expansion and contraction must be maintained throughout the entire perimeter of the installation. Many times the installer ends up using some sort of caulk, some that match some that don't. Here is one method that eliminates caulk, uses the same colors in the floor that is installed, and makes for a custom finished look. Photo 2 is laminate cut away from a metal door casing.

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The expansion area at the casing was cut an extra 1/4" wider than what was needed to accommodate for trim. Photo 3 is an end molding reducer strip that matches the installed laminate. As shown in Photo 4, using a table saw, split the reducer to where there is a 1/4" edge, (the left piece in the photo). A small band saw works well here for the small cuts that will be necessary (Photo 5). Cut the reducer to fit net to the door casing and miter the outside corners (Photo 6).

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In Photo 7, the pieces are all cut and ready for assembly. The smallest piece in the photo is a return, eliminating any cut or exposed edges. Photo 8 shows the assembled pieces; use a wood glue to adhere all the pieces and let dry. Once dry take some 100 to 150 grit sandpaper and smooth out the cut edges that will be net to the metal casing. Photo 9 show the finished product. This is where the 1/4" edge from photo 2 comes in. You can use silicone or an epoxy to fasten the trim to the casing, this will allow the laminate to expand and contract as necessary.

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Carpet



If you have been installing carpet, at one time or another you have removed seam tape from a seam that has already been constructed by a hot melt seam iron.



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When doing any corrective work, the installer must be at the top of his or her performance level to satisfy the consumer. When removing seam tape from the back of carpet I have seen many installers burn their fingers from the hot melt glue or the iron, tear the seam tape every few feet and have a bunch of pieces scattered about as they continue pulling the rest of the tape off the backing.

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Here's one method that has worked well for me when doing corrective work. Fold the carpet back so that the seam tape is flat. When you plug in your seam iron, TURN THE HEAT DOWN; excessive heat causes distortion and remember that the carpet backing has already been heated once already (Photo 10). Clean all of the existing hot melt adhesive from the bottom of the seam iron on a scrap piece of carpet (Photo 11).

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You will need a pair of carpet shears, eight inch carpet shears straight or bent work great. Place the seam iron on the back side of the seam tape and only heat enough to where the seam tape releases from the backing. Once you pull up a few inches, place the seam tape gently between the shears (Photo 12); you don't want to cut the seam tape. Don't close the shears, keep them slightly open. As the seam iron heats the tape, roll the shears toward the seam iron and slowly roll the seam tape up (Photo 13).

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By rolling the seam tape directly behind the seam iron, you will start to move the iron forward; you may occasionally need to straighten the iron as it's moving forward. It's a good idea to have a scrap piece of carpet at the end of the seam so that you do not melt the face fibers where the carpet is folded over on itself.

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Once you are done removing the seam tape, simply pull it off the shears and discard (Photo 14). This is a clean and professional way to remedy an unfortunate situation. Now that the seam tape has been removed, use a sharp blade and slowly cut through the seam line to separate the two pieces of carpet.