Frequently Asked Questions – floorLoc™

Please read through the frequently asked questions below and if you still do not find the answer you are looking for, please feel free to contact us.

Where can I use Laminates?
One of the most important considerations when laying laminate flooring is the condition of the sub floor – that is the floor on which the laminate is to be laid.

floorLoc™ Laminate flooring is extremely versatile and can be installed on nearly every type of sub floor, providing that it does not have much residual movement (Never over carpets and parquet block floors). This can range from concrete, wood sub floor, existing vinyl or ceramic tiles and contractor carpet, as long as the sub floor is level, clean, dry and protected from the outside elements.

floorLoc™ Wood laminate flooring can be installed with confidence in nearly any part of a home or office, with the exception of areas prone to dampness or excessive moisture, such as sauna, bathroom or laundry areas. To protect against moisture that might come from underneath the laminate floor, it’s essential that a vapour barrier or moisture membrane be installed under the laminate.

Because floorLoc™ Aquamarine Waterproof Laminate construction does not employ any wood content, it CAN be used in areas were there is excessive moisture such as a sauna, bathroom, laundry, kitchen etc.

Can I lay laminate directly onto a concrete slab?
The question that arises with cement floors is “How smooth and flat is the sub floor, and is it sufficiently dry for laminate?”

Firstly the floor MUST be flat and smooth to the extent that if a 1 meter long straight edge (spirit level) is laid over the floor, there should not be a gap of more than 3mm between the underside of the level and the surface of the floor at any point. If you are in any doubt or if there are holes or loose parts to the sub floor, it should be screeded with a self-levelling screed, before laying the laminate

Secondly the floor and surrounding walls should not show any signs of damp, and if they do please arrange with your dealer to have the floor checked with a suitable moisture meter before starting. Otherwise call in a professional or talk to your laminate dealer for help.

How do I know if my sub floor is dry enough for laminate?
If you are in any doubt about the condition of the sub floor make sure that the floor is checked with a Damp Meter prior to laying the new laminate. Cement screed or surrounding walls should not exceed a maximum of residual moisture greater than 2.0 CM %.
Is a moisture barrier always necessary?
If the installation is on a ground floor we ALWAYS recommend that a moisture barrier be installed between the sub floor and the laminate. This is important to prevent any moisture from the sub floor forcing its way upwards into the laminate. It is very important to use an approved moisture membrane or SABS approved Green plastic sheet especially on ground floor installations, as this is required to prevent rising damp. Remember if the correct membrane is not used on a ground floor the guarantee may be void, especially if damp is detected later.

The moisture membrane can be left off in the case of upper floors where there is no ground floor contact; provided that there is no ingress of damp from the outside walls or showers etc.

What type of moisture barrier should be used?
Extra special care must be exercised regarding choice of underlay materials, especially with regard to the moisture barrier as there are lots of cheap, poor quality, underlay on the market.

We strongly recommend the use of a branded product, because there is then a known specification and recourse to the manufacturer. Unspecified and non branded underlay should be avoided at all costs. Remember the underlay is like the foundations of a house, if the foundation is poor quality, it puts the whole building at risk, and it’s the same with your floor.

How do I know if I have a good moisture barrier?
It’s essential and totally non negotiable that ALL moisture membrane MUST be manufacturer using virgin plastic. That is first time used plastic which has a known SABS specification. Recycled plastic MUST NEVER be used as a moisture barrier.

These membranes can be made from either High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) or Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE). Neither is good or bad, just different specifications, and providing that the thickness is correctly specified both will effectively do the same job.

HDPE is a thinner but much tougher plastic and it should not be less than 65 microns thick, although most manufacturers use 80 micron (0.08 mm) HDPE.

LDPE on the other hand is a softer and much less tough plastic, so to achieve the equivalent strength of the HDPE it must be not less than 200 microns (0.2 mm) thick.

How do I know that I am using a genuine virgin plastic membrane?
You can generally recognise a recycled membrane by its colour: If it’s a “dirty” coloured plastic or if it’s brightly coloured (typically yellow, pink or worst of all black) BEWARE, because it’s almost certainly made from recycled plastic, and will contain biodegradable ingredients.

Recycled plastics, by law in South Africa, have to be biodegradable which means that the plastic will degrade and breakdown if buried or put in a “dark space”, because that’s what it’s designed to do.

So, remembering that the space under your laminate is a “dark space” recycled plastic will degrade and break up becoming ineffective as a moisture barrier: This is exactly the opposite of what you want with a floor moisture membrane.

How is my warranty or insurance affected by the choice of membrane?
If you experience a damp problem with your floor, and you don’t have a proper membrane installed, no wood laminate manufacturer will respect their guarantee on the basis that a proper membrane was not used.

Remember, if the manufacturer declines the claim so will your insurance company. So, don’t get caught napping!

How can I reduce the noise on a laminate floor?
The top surface of laminates, engineered and solid flooring (like tiles) are all, by their very nature of being a hard surfaces, so they will always give off a certain amount of noise.

The noise transmission can be deadened by the use of underlay or acoustic backings on the flooring. Therefore one would most commonly use ribbed Polyurethane (PU) foam, normally 2mm thick, as a cushion under the laminate to reduce footfall noise.

There are many types of underlay in use internationally, including fibre boards, ribbed cardboard, recycled fabrics, rubber etc. It’s very common in South Africa to use the PU foam, and often this is supplied as a combination underlay where the moisture membrane and PU foam cushion are combined into one product. This is commonly referred to as Combination underlay.

Can laminate flooring be laid over carpets?
There’s often a temptation to leave existing carpets or carpet underlay down on the belief that it will give a better cushion for the wood or laminate. THIS IS NOT AN OPTION, Never lay wood or laminate flooring over existing conventional carpet or underlay.

The problem is that the carpet pile layer gives way under load, which subjects the board joints in a click system to extreme loads, which can even cause the floor to pop open at the joints. In principle, however, “harder carpets” (typically contractor carpeting with thin rubber backing) can act as a suitable underlay. It’s advisable to contact us if you are in doubt.

Can laminate flooring be laid on tiles?
If the tile surface is secure and suitably even and meets the requirements for laminate flooring in terms of the subfloor level, then in principle it is quite possible. Any unevenness or variations in height in the tile surface of the tiles can be evened using a self-levelling screed or a cushionunderlay. If in doubt contact us for advice.
Can laminate flooring be laid on floors with underfloor heating?
Laminate flooring offers heat transmission and permits heating systems to operate very effectively.

Hot water underfloor heating system are highly recommended but generally not in common use in South Africa.

Electric underfloor heating systems can generally be used with care, but maximum surface temperature of the laminate flooring, when laid and operated, must NEVER exceed 24 degrees Celsius since this may lead to unsightly swelling of joints and arching. As a general rule, technical advice should always be sought before laying laminate flooring on electric underfloor heating.

Does laminate flooring have to be laid in a certain direction?
The overall visual appearance of the laminate flooring created by the individual panels is to a degree dependent on the direction in which they are laid in the room, relative to the incidence of light and the main direction from which they are viewed.

There is no right or wrong way to lay flooring although, the direction of laying can influence the subjective appreciation of the size of the room, i.e. perceived space. It is therefore important to consider direction of laying carefully before installation.

How big should the edge/expansion joints be?
Wood and laminate flooring elements will change with changes in climatic conditions. It’s therefore imperative that edge joints allow for at least 10 mm or more subject to the area involved.

There must always be a gap between the floor and all fixed building components around it (walls, door frames, supply lines, pillars, etc.). The edge of the floor must provide sufficient gap for the laminate flooring to move without coming into contact with those fixed building components.

What if the floor arches. What can be done?
If the laminated flooring becomes undulated or feel soft underfoot (arches) this will generally be because the floor does not have enough room to move (float) at one or more points in the room. This is normally the result of a laying error, e.g. lack of or inadequate expansion joints.

If a contractor laid your floor you should contact them immediately and have the problem sorted out. Otherwise if it was a DIY installation you can proceed as follows.

Remove all skirting’s and check that there is a consistent gap between the laminate floor and the walls all round. Remember there MUST be at least a 10mm gap at all points around the floor.

If there’s a security door fitted make sure that this is NOT fitted on top of the floor, otherwise it will restrict floor movement and cause a problem. If a door stopper is fitted through the floor make sure that there is sufficient space all around the screw holding the stopper in place – a hole is always drilled through the laminate floor (approx. 20 mm) and the stopper then fixed lightly to the screed floor (Do not clamp it hard down).

Check all heating or stir rails where these run through the laminate floor into the sub- floor. The laminate flooring needs space to move here as well.

If the laminate floor has been laid flush to a wall section or sliding door, make sure that an end profile is fitted to allow expansion.

Once the laminate floor has been “freed up” at all points it should normally flatten out again within one or two days.

As a general rule it is important that you act quickly otherwise there is a risk of permanent damage to the floor. However, if the panels have already cupped at the edges, this is a permanent damage which will not correct by itself, and damaged panels will need to be replaced.

Is it possible to replace a damaged single floor panels?
One can easily lift and replace laminate to correct damages otherwise., professionals can replace badly damaged flooring elements so well that it is not possible to tell the difference visually within the floor as a whole. Special suction units are available for lifting (suctioning) the individual panels up and out of the floor, after which the new panel can then be inserted. For repairing areas of minor damage on the floor, repair kits are often available.
What is laminate flooring made of?
Laminate flooring is over 90% wood: Wood fibres, wood chips and paper, which can be found in all three layers of the laminate floor: Decorative paper, core layer, and stabilising layer.
What is the correct way to dispose of laminate flooring and can it be recycled?
Disposal is no problem whatsoever. Pieces left over from laying and any other individual pieces can be disposed of along with normal household waste. Where complete floors are taken up, however, these should be taken directly to the waste disposal site. Since laminate flooring is composed of over 90 per cent wood, it can be burnt without reservation just like other wood-based products.
What kinds of decorative coverings does laminate flooring come with?
Laminate flooring is available with a wide diversity of decorative coverings. Wood reproduction decorative coverings are highly popular, as are reproduction stone and tile decorative coverings. Anything is possible with today’s technology.

Virtually every type of wood can be faithfully reproduced with available printing methods today, and one can almost “feel” the structure of the wood on a laminate flooring board. Some companies even offer a wide variety of marble, graphite, slate, travertine and stone decorative coverings which are more authentic than the real thing. In addition there is also a wide variety of individual fantasy decors available for specialist manufacturers.

Is laminate flooring hygienic?
Thanks to its sealed surface laminate flooring is extremely hygienic. The surface coating, which is made of a particularly hard material (melamine resin), prevents dirt and bacteria from penetrating the floor. However, laminate flooring is not just hygienic it is also extremely hard-wearing. You can even stub out a cigarette on laminate flooring without damaging the surface. The wear resistance of the floor is one of the reasons why it’s such a popular choice today even in commercial applications.
What does laminate flooring cost?
The price of laminate flooring installed ranges from about R 150, 00 to R 350, 00 per m². But like all things in life “You generally get what you pay for“, which is to say that the better the quality of the floor, the higher the price.

A thicker (say 12mm) laminate flooring product with integrated footstep sound insulation and edge water repellent finishing (special edge protection against moisture penetration) will certainly be more expensive than a thinner laminate flooring product without such additional features.

How do I know which is the correct laminate floor for my application?
Most laminates are graded according to international standards, using what’s called the Abrasion Coefficient rating (AC), which is followed by a number 1 to 6.

In addition there are six commonly used Application Classes, that also apply, and it’s the combination of these two codes that dictate the grade and correct application of the product.

In South Africa today the following ratings will generally be found in common use:

AC3 Class 31 Residential Heavy Duty – Commercial Light Duty.
AC4 Class 32 Residential Heavy Duty – Commercial Medium Duty
AC5 Class 33 Residential Heavy Duty – Commercial Heavy Duty
AC6 Class 34 Residential Heavy Duty – Commercial Extra Heavy Duty

It is advisable to check with the supplier before agreeing to any purchase of laminate as to what the AC and Class ratings are before you buy. If the product is not clearly marked with these ratings, then we strongly recommend that you DO NOT make the purchase.

How do I care for my laminate flooring?
One of the major benefits of wood laminate flooring is the ease of maintenance. Dust and dirt quickly and easily removed with a soft broom. Then wipe with a very slightly damp cloth or dampened “Dry Mop”. i.e. wring the cloth out thoroughly first taking care to ensure that no water penetrates the joints!

We would suggest that you read or print off a copy of the cleaning instructions available on this web site, making sure that the person responsible for cleaning the floors is trained on how to apply the cleaning instructions. Remember that the core layer of the laminate flooring is made of wood, so water will cause unsightly swelling of the joints.

Caution! Never use floor wax or polish! They do not adhere to the resin-impregnated surface of the laminate flooring and will cause unsightly marks, streaks and lines.