Having laminate flooring installed is exciting. It enhances the appearance of your space and upgrades the feel of your environment. In fact, you may like your new flooring so much that you’re hesitant to walk on it. But flooring has to be as functional as it is stylish. It goes underfoot, and you probably wonder how soon you can walk on laminate after installation.
How Soon Can You Walk on Floating Laminate Floors?
Laminate is an engineered material that is made with a fiberboard core. The top layer contains a high-resolution photograph of the suggested surface, making the laminate look like wood, stone, tile or another flooring material. The pieces are coated with a clear layer that protects them from scratches, stains and fading.
Most laminate flooring comes in the form of click-and-lock planks. Each segment has a tongue-and-groove mechanism that connects it to the next piece. You assemble the floor as an interconnected mat. When you cut and shape it to your room dimensions, it fits in place perfectly. A floating floor doesn’t need to be nailed or glued to the subfloor.
Some people confuse laminate with vinyl or engineered hardwood. Both of those materials are available as floating floors.
Vinyl and laminate are quite similar. Both are made of various layers of compressed material. They are usually created to look like wood or another luxury flooring type. Like laminate, vinyl is available as a floating floor.
Engineered hardwood also features tongue-in-groove planks and installs as a floating floor. However, it feels different than vinyl and laminate. With engineered hardwood, real wood veneer is sandwiched on top of a layer of plywood. Because it’s real wood, its grain pattern is more realistic than that of vinyl and laminate. It is also more durable.
Does the Floating Floor Require Adhesive?
Whether you install true laminate or another type of floating floor, it’s safest to avoid walking on it for about 24 hours. Some experts say that you can walk on it immediately because you don’t have to worry about disturbing the adhesive curing process. But it’s a good idea to let gravity work on the planks, allowing them to settle evenly onto the subfloor before putting weight on them.
While floating floors are not affixed to the subflooring, they may require adhesive to secure the planks together. If this is the case, you need to wait the appropriate amount of time for the glue to dry and cure. Follow the directions on the product label. When in doubt, give the floor 24 to 48 hours before exposing it to foot traffic or moving your furniture back.
How Soon Can You Walk on Glue-Down Laminate Floors?
Some types of laminate are meant to be glued down instead of installed as a floating floor. In some ways, these floors are more durable than floating floors. The material won’t shift as much under pressure, and it’s less likely to buckle from moisture damage.
But it’s important to use the right type of laminate if you plan to glue it down. Flooring material that’s not intended for this purpose may not adhere properly. It may also buckle or create gaps due to natural expansion and contraction.
Installing this type of flooring is more time-intensive than fitting a floating floor. It’s especially important to keep the humidity levels low. You should also wait about 72 hours after washing the subfloor before gluing down laminate segments.
After you have completed the installation process, you’ll need to wait for the glue to dry and cure. This time frame may be different for distinct types of adhesives. However, it’s usually about 24 hours.
If you walk on a glue-down laminate floor before the adhesive has cured, you risk shifting the planks from their perfect position. Moreover, the planks may not adhere properly. The best way to install glue-down flooring is to go over it with a weighted roller after the application. This ensures that the segments bond evenly with the subfloor and reduces the risk of buckling and bubbles.
You should also follow the 24-hour guidelines when installing glue-down vinyl floors. They behave similarly as laminate and need time to cure before accommodating foot traffic.
How Soon Can You Put Furniture on Laminate Floors?
After you install laminate floors, you are probably eager to see how it looks in the context of the environment. You can’t get the full impact until you place your furniture where it belongs. Many homeowners wonder how soon they can put furniture on laminate floors after installation.
You should wait about 24 hours before replacing your furniture. This will give the flooring time to settle and acclimate. However, some experts say that you can move your furniture back right away.
When you move your furniture onto your new floor, protect the material from damage. Enlist help to lift heavy items so that you don’t drag them across the floor. You might want to place cardboard under your feet to prevent scratches and scuffs. Consider affixing felt pads to the undersides of your furniture to avoid damage to your flooring in the future.
But if your glue-down floors are vinyl, don’t use furniture pads that contain rubber. The chemical reaction between rubber and vinyl generates permanent yellow stains.
How to Avoid Walking on Your Floors During Installation
We have all seen the cartoons in which the characters paint themselves into a corner. You may feel like the same thing will happen to you when you’re installing laminate flooring. To avoid walking on the surface while you’re installing it, follow the steps below:
- Start at the corner or edge farthest from the door.
- Work your way toward the exit door.
- Leave an unfinished path to walk along until installation is complete.
- Wear socks, and tread lightly if you must walk on the surface.
- Consider spreading out your weight by laying a wooden board on the floor before stepping.
Protecting Laminate Flooring From Future Damage
Your new laminate floors may look so good that you hesitate to walk on them. But you want to feel comfortable in your home and live your life without worrying about ruining your floors.
Fortunately, laminate is incredibly durable. Regular foot traffic shouldn’t impair its function or appearance.
Still, you can protect the longevity of your laminate flooring by:
- Taking off your shoes inside the house
- Placing mats at entryway doors to collect pebbles and dirt, which can scratch the floor
- Putting felt pads underneath furniture
- Replacing the felt pads before they have a chance to wear out
- Using plastic flooring pads under furniture with casters
- Placing rugs in high-traffic areas
- Checking with the laminate manufacturer to determine the best type of rug pad to use
- Keeping the indoor temperature and humidity consistent
Following the guidelines above will keep any type of flooring looking its best for as long as possible. Laminate flooring should last 15 to 25 years before needing to be replaced. However, walking on it too soon and failing to protect it will shorten its life span.