Laminate flooring is a popular choice for homeowners due to its extreme durability and easy maintenance. It’s also fade, stain, and moisture resistant, making it ideal for high-traffic areas. One concern most people have is whether or not they can walk on laminate flooring immediately after it’s installed.
You cannot walk on laminate flooring immediately after it’s installed. The planks need time to settle and adhere to the subfloor before any weight is put on them. This takes about 24 hours. Once the flooring is dry and set, you can enjoy your new beautiful laminate floor.
This comprehensive guide will discuss a few topics related to this question, including why you can’t walk on laminate flooring immediately, what to do during the waiting period, and how to care for your new laminate floor. By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to ensure your laminate flooring lasts for years.
Why You Can’t Walk on Laminate Flooring Immediately
Laminate flooring is a great all-encompassing flooring solution. From resisting spills and moisture to withstanding heavy foot traffic, this flooring can do it all–but only if you give it time to set. Here are the main reasons you can’t walk on laminate flooring immediately:
Can Lead to an Uneven Floor
Laminate flooring requires some time to cure and settle into place. During this time, the adhesives holding the planks together need to set and harden properly. Walking on the floor too soon can cause the planks to shift and become uneven.
Additionally, most laminate planks are click-and-lock, meaning they have a tongue-and-groove system that locks the planks together. If you walk on the floor before this system is set, you run the risk of damaging the planks or causing them to become warped.
Can Cause the Planks To Crack or Break
Nothing is more frustrating than spending money on new flooring, only to damage it the first day. The planks in laminate flooring are made of multiple layers of durable materials, including a plastic protective layer. However, this layer is not indestructible.
If you walk on laminate flooring before it’s properly cured, the weight of your feet can cause the planks to crack or break. In some cases, this damage is irreversible, and you’ll be forced to replace the entire floor.
Can Void the Manufacturer’s Warranty
A great benefit of laminate flooring is the included warranty, which covers damages caused by water spills or scratches. However, you void this warranty if you walk on the floor before it’s had time to set.
Depending on the severity of the damage, you may be stuck paying for repairs or a full replacement out of your own pocket. To avoid this, always give your laminate flooring the time it needs to set before walking on it. Read the manufacturer’s fine print carefully to know exactly how long you must wait.
Factors That Affect How Long You Should Wait Before Walking on Laminate Flooring
Generally, it’s safe to walk on laminate flooring after 24 hours. However, there are a few factors that can affect this timeline, including:
1. The Indoor Climate
If you live in a particularly humid climate, it’s best to give your laminate flooring a little more time to dry and set. This is because humid climates can cause laminate flooring to swell, so giving it some time to set will allow the swelling to go down.
On the other hand, a dry climate can lead to shrinkage and cracking. If you live in an area with extreme temperature changes, it’s best to err on the side of caution and wait a full 48 hours before walking on your laminate flooring.
2. The Type of Adhesive Used
The adhesive is what bonds the laminate planks to the subfloor. Choosing the right adhesive for your specific project is important to ensure a strong bond.
- Water-based adhesives are the most popular type used for laminate flooring. They’re non-toxic, easy to work with and have a relatively short drying time.
- Solvent-based adhesives are stronger than water-based adhesives but contain solvents that can be harmful in high concentrations. They also have a strong smell and require ventilation during the drying process.
- Epoxy adhesives are the strongest type of adhesive but are also the most expensive. They can tolerate extreme stress and weight without breaking down, making them ideal for high-traffic areas.
3. The Type of Subfloor
The subfloor is the surface where the laminate planks will be glued or nailed. It will provide support and stability for your flooring and determine how long it will take for the adhesive to set.
- Concrete subfloor. Touted as one of the best types of subfloors, concrete is extremely strong and durable. Concrete is a non-porous material, which will cause the adhesive to set quickly, usually within 24 hours.
- Wood subfloor. Wood is a popular choice for subfloors, but it’s not as strong or durable as concrete. It’s also more porous, so it can absorb moisture from the adhesive. This can extend the drying time to up to 48 hours.
What To Do During the Waiting Period
If you’ve just installed laminate flooring, you’re probably eager to start enjoying your new floors. The inviting look of the wood planks is tempting but resist the urge to walk on them until they’re completely dry. In the meantime, there are still plenty of things you can do to prepare for use:
1. Cover the Floor With a Tarp or Sheet
Dirt, dust, and debris can quickly ruin your laminate flooring look. To avoid this, cover the floor with a light tarp or sheet until it’s time to use it. This will also protect the floor from any accidental spills or scratches. Secure the tarp or sheet around the room’s perimeter, so it doesn’t move around and cause damage.
2. Set Up Fans or a Dehumidifier
If you live in a humid climate, it’s important to keep the air around the flooring as dry as possible. This will help the adhesive to set quickly and prevent the laminate planks from swelling. Place a few fans in the room to circulate the air, or set up a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air.
3. Keep the Pets Away
Pets can be sneaky, and it’s not uncommon for them to sneak onto new flooring before it’s completely dry. They can also track in dirt, mud, and other debris that can damage the floor. Keep them away from the room until the flooring is completely dry to avoid accidents and damage.
How To Care for Your New Laminate Floor
Nothing beats the look of freshly installed laminate flooring. The smooth, shiny surface is sleek, stylish, and inviting but requires special care to keep it looking its best. Here are a few tips for cleaning and maintaining your laminate floor:
1. Sweep the Floor Regularly
Sweeping the floors regularly will allow you to keep your new floors scratch-free. Not sweeping them regularly can result in dust buildup, which may scratch your shiny new floors. Sweeping frequently will also help to prevent the build-up of dirt and dust that can dull the finish. Be careful not to use scrubs or brooms that are too rough, as they may damage the floor.
2. Mop the Floor With a Mild Cleanser
When it’s time to clean the floor more thoroughly, mop it with a mild cleanser designed for laminate floors. Just as you want to avoid using harsh scrubs, you also want to avoid harsh chemical cleaning solutions. Instead, opt for a gentle cleanser that won’t strip away the floor’s protective coating.
3. Use a Vacuum With the Right Attachments
Vacuuming is an effective way to remove dirt, dust, and other debris from laminate floors. However, using the right attachments is important to avoid damaging the surface. A vacuum’s standard brush could be too abrasive for your brand-new floors, as is the beater bar. Use the softest brush available to prevent any scratches. Be gentle when vacuuming around edges and corners to prevent scratching.
4. Be Careful of Spills
Although one of the main benefits of a laminate floor is its waterproof qualities, you should still avoid any spills while it’s brand new. Blot the spill with a cloth to remove as much liquid as possible. Then, clean the area with a mild cleanser to give it a final shine. The key is to act quickly to prevent the liquid from seeping into the flooring.
These simple tips will help you keep your laminate floor looking its best. With a little elbow grease and the right cleansers, you can enjoy the beauty of your laminate floor for years.
Some people consider laminate flooring as a way to replace their old carpets. I’ve written another guide comparing replacing and stretching your carpet as a way to improve your interior aesthetics. Don’t miss it. [Stretching Vs Replacing Carpet: Which is Cheaper?]
With so many benefits, it’s no wonder that laminate flooring is extremely popular. But before you can start enjoying your new floors, you need to give the adhesive time to set.
Depending on the type of adhesive and subfloor you have, this can take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. Once installed, sweep and mop the floor regularly to keep it looking its best. With a little care, your laminate floor will provide years of enjoyment.