When laying a new laminate floor you should be looking to stagger the laminate boards. While there are no steadfast rules to doing this, if you understand the basic concepts as to why it matters you will more likely than not lay a floor that is more aesthetically pleasing, likely to last a lot longer and require much less ongoing maintenance.
Also, staggering laminate flooring is easy to do and should not add any extra time to your projected completion time of the project. In addition, properly staggering the laminate boards will ensure that the manufacturers’ guarantee will be honored should you need to make a claim. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Why you should stagger laminate flooring
The main problem with laminate flooring that has not been properly staggered is that it is more likely to separate from the boards it is adjoined to. In addition, in severe circumstances, the boards may lift or move out of place. This is because you create areas of your floor that are more likely to move as a single unit.
How much should you stagger laminate flooring?
Laminate flooring manufacturers often require their floors to be staggered anywhere between 6 to 12 inches, some manufacturers even want more. It is important to have a good understanding of the manufacturers’ guidelines before laying the laminate flooring.
Don’t ever short stagger your flooring, it is both not aesthetically pleasing, and can also bring up some of the same issues as not staggering the floor at all.
The image to the left shows a very well irregularly staggered floor, and it is something like this you should be aiming towards.
Avoid H Joints
H-joints are often found on floors laid in a regular pattern, these should be avoided for both aesthetical reasons and structural reasons. Laying a laminate floor in a regular pattern decreases its ability to contract and expand as a whole unit, and instead does so as single laminate boards often causing gaps or even lifting like a hinge.
A good example of an H-joint can be seen in this image on the left. Notice how every second row of boards are uniform (or regularly placed). This should not be how you lay your laminate flooring.
Examples of H-Joints
While there are no steadfast rules as to how you should stagger your laminate flooring it is best to be aware that you should be aiming to lay your floor in an irregular pattern with your stagger length to be in the region of 6-12 inches.
Laying your laminate boards in place prior to clicking them together is a good way to get a constant overview of how your finished floor will look, and whether your stagger is appropriate for that row.
When planning how you’re going to stagger your laminate remember to always leave an expansion gap around the edges of the room.