Laminate flooring sucks

I state this now: I will never use laminate flooring again. Ever. I don’t care how inexpensive and near-indestructable it is — the stuff simply is not well-designed and is far too cumbersome for one person to install alone. The need for a second person is ridiculous and if nothing else points out the usability of the product.

I’m ranting because I’m on night #2 trying to get this stuff into the basement while Alex and the wee one are out of town. I’m pulling long nights, spending virtually every moment downstairs wrestling with a Tarkett laminate we purchased a couple of weekends ago.

I’m trying to do this mostly as a surprise for Alex — finish off as much of the basement as I can, so that when she comes home the upstairs is fully liveable, and the main room of the downstairs is finally useable. It won’t be complete, but it’ll at least be a start. And we can start to live in this house, rather than merely exist.

The instructions printed on the insert with each box make it sound simple. This stuff is the “clickable” type, which means there are special hooked grooves that interlock. The idea is that once the stuff is down, it doesn’t separate and you don’t get the gaps common with ordinary tongue-and-groove types.

It’s a complete and utter myth. This stuff is actually worse than tongue-and-groove. Especially if you’re one person. When you lay down the first row, it’s easy — lay end-to-end, and they magically interlock. Done. The problems begin with the second row. According to instructions, you lay down the row end-to-end, and then slide the entire row into the previous one, completing the effect. In principle, it makes sense.

But it never works. Once you get one section of the row in place, another part pops back out. The interlock is tenuous. And you can’t tap it into place with a hammer. Although the floor is durable, the grooves are flimsy as hell, and are prone to breakage. I’ve got gaps everywhere. They’re not just unsightly, they’re highly annoying. I can already foresee cuts forming.

And no, I don’t have any friends I can call on. I’m doing this installation until well into the morning, and I can’t ask friends to stay up that late to help me. It’s simply just not acceptable.

That’s my rant. Next time, I’ll use engineered hardwood. Or the real thing. But I’m sure as hell never using laminate again. I wish the floor had been regular concrete…

94 thoughts on “Laminate flooring sucks”

  1. Um… I’ve install laminate in four different rooms now (2 bedrooms, a sitting room, and a basement). I don’t remember having too much trouble.

    The trick is you gotta remain square… your first row is extremely important. Also, look out for extremely wide/long rooms… there is a maximum length that you’re suppose to run the boards before putting in a “transition” piece I believe (I don’t remember the exact lengths).

    Disclaimer: I’m a really horrible carpenter, so I don’t have mad flooring skills or anything.

  2. Floor was flat. Everything was as square as I could get it (even used a laser, for Pete’s sake!), and the stuff just shifted. Given, it was a long room (36 feet), so there’s more room for wiggle, I suppose.

    I still hate it. So there. Nyah. :P

  3. They make a tool that you use for tapping the planks together without damaging the grooves. I never had any problems and I did it alone too. The floors turned out great and have never had any troubles with them. Am plannning on putting laminate in the rest of the house as soon as I can. As a matter of fact I enjoy working with it. When finished it gives you a sense of accomplishment.
    Sorry you had so much trouble.

    I have a place to get some really deep discounted laminate flooring at Click Here If Interested.

  4. I’ve done three laminate floors super cheap largely by myself. It’s fast and easy. Even consumer reports said laminate is by far the better deal and holds up better than engineered floors, then again it’s your money and time. I have seen a lot of these floors in our neighborhood installed by schlock contractors (to fool stupid buyers like myself) and they really don’t last. If you’re going to put in plank flooring, you might as go all the way and buy the real stuff. By the way, have fun refinishing engineered hardwood floors. The veneer is so thin I’m pretty sure you’ll have to REALLY watch that floor sander as it chews through it.

  5. Can anybody give me advice on laminating my floors quickly? I liked the article on laminating . it was informative

    thanks
    steve

  6. Two possible answers to this, I think:

    1) Get a pro. Costs a bit more, but they can slap in a laminate floor in a day and it’ll look perfect.

    2) Go to your local Home Depot, and see if they can teach you how and give you the tools you need. Then get a friend, a case of beer, and some Robaxacet (for your sore back when you’re done). Should be done in a day.

  7. I have put down laminate flooring in my family room. I like it and enjoy it.
    We did this last October and now that the warmer weather is here, I am now noticing that I have a few bubble or rises in one area of the flooring. When I walk on it it moves back into place but rises again within minutes. Just wondering if my ends are too tight to the walls? This is just in the middle of a 20 by 30 foot room.

  8. Gaynor, sounds like you might have a tightness problem. I’ve heard that you need to leave something like 5/8″ (maybe an 1″?) around all sides, or the expansion due to moisture and heat will cause buckling. Sadly, I don’t know how to fix that once the floor’s in, short of taking off the baseboards and trying to cut a thin edge off with a power saw.

  9. NEVER!buy ikea laminate!even a joiner cant install it and ikea not interested!ive had lots of different floors and this is the worst ever!

  10. Laminates are great for homes with big dogs and children.Eng hardwood flooring is great for a rich and warm feeling in your house and for the install over a concrete slab (that’s mainly what they were designed for)and they are very stable due to the ply on the core.Most Eng floors can be sanded up to 3 times depending on the wear layer. Good Luck

  11. You’re right, it sucks.
    Searching for an answer to the same problem. In my case I had three helpers to push the laminate row, and we still couldn’t keep boards from popping out. I hate this stuff.
    I had a floor done professionally through Home Depot. Thy went amazingly fast, but the laminate (Shaw) popped up and broke off in a couple spots. Home Depot and Shaw both refuse to honor the warranty (6 months into a 30 year warranty!). Did I mention I hate this stuff?

    Anyway here’s the ideas I’ve heard for getting the second row to stay in place.
    1) Many helpers
    2) heavy weights (like an unopened box) on the pieces already in place
    3) duct tape the pieces as put them down, creating a hinge
    4) install in a stair step pattern from the corner, instead of one long row at a time.

    I haven’t tried any of these yet, as I’m still mad as hell and have to break from this for awhile.

    Good Luck!

  12. I just wasted a weekend trying. complete waste, ends chip like crazy (with a tapping block). The stuff is so cheap and not worth it at all. Garbage. Next time, real wood. Never again,

  13. Sorry to hear about all the problems, i have installed 6 rooms about 2000 sq ft of laminate and love it. I also worked alone except go wife to help in a couple of spots where it is about 30 foot run. The trick I found to get them in is to ensure the end joints are exactly even to the other board. What I did was get some of the cut off pieces and click it into the piece I was installing and tap it with a hammer at the joints to line them up! Works great and doesn’t destroy the snap joint. I used Shaw in my kitchen and it was fantastic, in that you could get it to snap together with both pieces flat on the floor and using an cut off piece and a hammer to bang it in. The rest of the house I used some other flooring and it had to be at at least a 45 degree angle before it would go in. This seemed to be because the joint was very square rather than the beveled joint on the Shaw.The floor wears great and the wife loves it for cleanup.
    I am now looking at doing my basement with it!
    Good Luck!

  14. I borrowed 8 planks of the Tarkett laminate. I love the timber look but wanted to try it out 1st since my floor is not 100% flat. I had the SAME problems as Geoff. Fortunately (for once!) I tried before I purchased. It IS near impossible even on a flat part of the floor since for the Tarkett product you do need to do a whole row at a time – means 2 or 3 people required. ANY amount of curve in the floor will make it virtually impossible to fit the row when the row is lifted off the horizontal by about 30 degrees to click into the previous row.

    Sucks ‘cos I loved the look of this laminate over anyting else I’d seen.

  15. Well I am glad that I have read all of your comments. I am about to lay laminate myself and wasn’t too sure what I was getting myself into.. Now I know to get some reinforcements ie my dad and husband to join me in my adventure. Wish me luck. I hope it turns out.

  16. Oh man I thought swiftlock laminate flooring from Lowes would be an easy and fast install on our back room (about 240sqft) but its turning out to be a major pain, going on 4 days now after work, including tearing up our old carpet too. the new flooring snaps together nicely but I have found differences between boxes of planks that are a problem. some are different thicknesses, resulting in an edge you can feel and others have ends that are not square so whent he planks are butted to one another I’m left with a v-shaped gap on the small ends. totally frustrating.

    now I think I can make it work if I sort ‘em by boxes that fit together nicely and will probably have a lot of wasted material from end pieces I already cut. so mad about this. I was almost halfway done tonight and when my wife and I took a step back and had a fresh look at the floor, we can see there are end joints that are not square and some height differences on the planks and some potential chips forming at the ends too. major headache today just thinking about it. good thread here with some honest opinions, thanks.

  17. well I finished up my 240sq ft install with el cheapo swiftlock from Lowes and it looks good. I learned a lot, its good to use one box at a time and work in rows end to end until you finish a box. I had some problems between boxes of the 6″ ends not being parallel to each other and from thicknesses not being spot on and feeling the edge between planks. I can see some differences in shininess between the boxes but since the project is done I’m glad I did it. the floor looks good, new, shiny, clean, bright and am so glad to have carpet out of that room. I wonder how well this flooring will hold up at the joints/seams and if water spills or dog pee accidents will ruin it.

  18. Laminate flooring is the worst. I had professionals install mine and they did a fine job. But just 4 weeks into it, in 4 areas there was bubbling/warping at the seams. Just one month into it. I would not put this crap in my dog’s house.
    Then there are those who say, just put rugs down. What are you supposed to do, lay a bunch of rugs down and say “I have a real pretty floor under here, you should see it some time.”
    Do not waste your money. If you ever have a problem with one piece, damn near the whole thing has to come up, as if it were wood, you could replace just that one area or simply sand it down. Once again, stay clear of the crap!!!!

  19. Well Geof, I’m exactly at where you were when you wrote your rant. By the way, thanks! I really needed a laugh after 2 days of frustration working with this crap. I’m a master carpenter and have never EVER encountered such a crap product. Thinking of returning the 40 +boxes I have left and start over with another floor covering.

  20. Hey Bernie,

    My dad used real hardwood on our kitchen floor when I was a kid. It lasted 20 years without so much as looking a bit old. I totally understand why, now.

  21. About 6 years ago, I’ve installed 400 sq.ft. of laminates. The planks were using a solid core clicking system where the planks could be partially in and you could tap them horinzontally until they latch together.

    This time, I’ve just bought Tarkett with a soft core where the tongue/groove feels like hard cardboard. I have not succeeded installing the 2nd row. You need to lift the whole row and then some planks unlatch. You cannot tap them horizontally.

  22. I’ve been trying to install some Swiftlock laminate flooring I bought from Lowes now for over a month. This stuff is very frustrating, I have no idea why they call it ‘Swiftlock’ because it certainly does not lock swiftly together. This crap does not want to go together for anything, and it doesn’t lock together as advertised, you have to sit there and force it together, while you can hear the press board tongue inside the groove ‘bending’ ….and don’t tell me I’m doing it wrong and thats why its not ‘snapping’ together because I have fooled with this in every way imaginable to get this shit to go together like its advertised and it just WONT… three other people tried their luck and it does the same exact thing to them as well. DONT BUY SWIFTLOCK its CRAP! I wish I would’ve put down the frickin peel and stick stuff now since i wasted all my money on this worthless flooring!

  23. I put down 1000 sq. ft. of Cinque Terre Coastal Elm Tarkett laminate flooring and it was a pain in the butt to get started. after completing the task and enjoying the look. The floor started creaking no matter were you steped. The instructions was followed to the “T”. With that being said, I also installed 185 sq. ft. of Occasions Maple Tarkett and low and behold it DOES NOT creak at all and the boards are a lot narrower than the Coastal Elm. Tarkett Warranty Department will do nothing, according to the independent inspector. Is anyone else had this issue???

  24. I too hate the stuff. I read about it, watched videos and talked to people at Home Depot about it before I got it. It didn’t help. When I start the second row I’m fine. Then when the second piece of the second row comes up it’s impossible. I can’t get it in without the first one coming out. I finally decided I’d have to live with a less than perfect seam for the second one and I moved on to the third one. THEN all three come loose. Over and over and over. I have banged up bloody knuckles, bruised knees and a sore back. AND I’m out over $300 for a floor I can’t use.

  25. Addendum to my above comment: Maybe different manufacturers are different. Mine was from Home Depot. It’s “Faus” http://www.fausinc.com “Cosmopolitan” They don’t even recommend a tool of any sort. They say “snap” into place with your hands. Well mine are bruised and bloody and the floor still is not in. Even if I prevail I can see that there will be some small gaps here and there that I will have to fill in with caulk, I guess.

    It has been very humid. Maybe that’s a problem. The flooring spent almost a week in the room unopened before I started the installation.

    Be wary. It’s not nearly as easy as they say.

  26. Hi Mike!

    Don’t they say you should have the flooring open a few days before starting? I suppose if your basement is really humid, that could be a problem.

  27. I’ve installed many, many hardwood floors and am now installing my first laminate. The room is 38 feet long, and it’s going in a basement that has always been almost “dusty dry” for years, so am not concerned about dampness any more than a main floor. I snapped a chalk line down first, and set down wall spacers for the first row because no framed wall will fit a straight line over 38 feet. Yes row one was a breeze, and rows two and three were pop-out and re-do just like other posters mentioned. Then I got an inspiration: Lay the next row down onto, but not into, the tongue, and fit them end-to-end. Then, from one end, lift, press,
    and close like a ZIPPER. Clean the next tongue of loose machined MDF bits as they prevent the next piece from fitting flush. Yes, the joints can be tapped. Take a piece of cut-off scrap, shave the lock off on the edge that would mate if it was a real piece, place it against the planks wherever you need, and softly tap the scrap with the side of your hammer. It will fit seamlessly and the planks will immediately fold flat. The tongue and grooves are more fragile than I would like, and there are lots of little bits of mdf left over from machining that thwart a perfect fit, so do a visual and clean before driving yourself nuts. And the REAL trick was to lay them ONTO the tongue as you fit. Don’t try to lift an entire row umpteen feet long all at once because it can’t be done without using up the entire quota of profanity for the job.

  28. I should be clear, the inspiration I got was from the Kaindl website, not my own conclusions, but it exactly addressed the frustrations I was having with rows two and three, which I had laid down, and placed a few inches away. That was wrong. See the installation video here: http://www.kaindl.com/consultation/installation.php?m=89. It is vendor specific of course, but the concept of the “lay it on the groove” is probably portable. That single trick made it a breeze. And tap with scrap.

  29. And oh, 6 mil vapour barrier onto the concrete floor, all seams Tuck taped together and then foam underlay onto that for thermal barrier and stop the creaks.

  30. I bought a Shaw laminate flooring with 1 20 year warranty and had it professionally insatlled. WIthin 6 months the seam started rising and got worse, in about 20 different spots. They sent an inspector who said it was due to excessive topical mositur I.E standing water!. We only used the Shaw brand cleaner once a month and drymopped the other times.

    Even though the warranty states it is covered against normal moisture, they said they would only cover “manufacturing defects”. We should get a class action suit against these jerks!

  31. Its your technique Dude!…..
    Also it is a “floating” floor: visualize floor itself as single unit sitting on sub floor, wit edges “clamped” by moulding attached to the wall NOT the floor!!!

    What works well: layout your base “row” (or partial row)along one wall; then start working out of one corner.

    two poub hammer is very useful with the instalation kit tools for tight seams.

    Lumberliqidators click & lock flooring very good product

  32. Some laminates are just crap. I’ve been installing laminates from all comanies since they first came out. I am on a job right now that should have taken 4 or 5 hours. 9 hours later, we need to go back tomorrow and finish it. It is a thicker Tarkett laminate. It is the type that is supposed to be installed without the use of a tap block, but that is not possible. Tell me how I’m supposed to tilt my piece in at a 45 when it has to go under a door jamb or toe kick.
    Like I said, I have a ridiculous amount of experience installing laminates and know all of the tricks (invented quite a few of them myself). Tarkett can be ok, but this particular product is complete crap and i will not be installing it again.
    Mohawk is decent, Pergo has always been good. No substitue for hardwood.

  33. GO TO SAM’S CLUB AND GET Lock’n Seal Laminate Flooring-Brazilian Cherry. I’m a pro and this floor is so easy to install a caveman can bucking do it. IT NEVER POPS OUT. It’s tongue and groove so you’ll need a hammer and a special tapping block. Don’t buy those little black tapping blocks. They suck. Mine is a white foot long tapping block. It looks like a 2′ x 4′ that’s hard plastic.

    I wouldn’t lay the OP floor for $10,000. IF YOUR LAMINATE FLOOR EVER POPS OUT SAY ON ROW 2 PIECE 2 AND SO ON TAKE THAT *HIT BACK. I’ve installed several companies and Sam’s Lock’n Seal is the Cadillac and it looks great. IMO. Shaw is hard to lay too. What becomes a nightmare with the OP is not only after you start row 2 but going down tight halls and with the floor he had it want pop in without this special back tapping block thing.

  34. Roger, you say go to Sams Club for the laminate but don’t they carry different brands? If so what brand did you install?

  35. I am so glad I’m not the only one. I hate the stuff. It shifted when we were laying it and there was nothing we could do about it. We had several people here with us when we were installing, and we couldn’t get enough weight on the plank to keep it from shifting when we were tapping. The boards wouldn’t lock from end to end on some boards. The manufacturer suggest we go back and tap them back in place and it will be fine, it shifted other boards when we were putting it together. Then they said after it’s laid if we tap it then it will fall right into place. We tried and it won’t budge. Now after the floor has been down 1 week we have some gaps(that are getting bigger), and some chips where the corners of the board are popping up. There’s also a few scratches on the surface of it from a chair, it’s not as durable as the companies say. Does anyone have any suggestions on how we can possibly keep it from chipping more, how to fill in the gaps, and keep the corners of the planks from buckling?

  36. I layed laminate click floating hardwood floor thru the entire house 850 sq ft. the only problem i am having is the last row will not stay in place. no matter what i do, it pops up. I am so frustrated with it. thought about nailing too, but the floor is concrete and nails wont stay down. Any suggestions would be great. other than the last row, I have no complaints, love the floor and how it looks.

  37. We had given up on that tarkett laminate flooring. We were going to just return the unopened boxes and cut our losses. I googled “laminate sucks”, read these posts, and decided to try the “zipper” method. We were taking apart the bad rows to try zipping them up and discovered that we could not easily take apart the first two rows which we had glued. So now we are going to try glueing and zipping two rows then let the glue set. Then do two more. Wish us luck!

  38. I’ve fitted old school, T&G, laminate with no problems, so I thought the “click” stuff would be a doddle. The first problem is that you have to make a continuous strip by slotting the planks together end to end. You need a fair bit of force to slot the ends together, and it has to be an exact line up, or your next plank wont slot into the grooves. The joint is tight and hard to line up, but paradoxically, comes apart rather easily with lateral force. The type of force you almost inevitably exert laying the joined strips. The snap joints themselves are hit and miss, sometimes you get lucky, many times the joint will gap, come apart, or simply not click together. Often you will get several strips laid, and it will come apart further back. I was fitting it in a kitchen and it’s actually impossible to fit up to (or under) the kick plate of kitchen units, because the planks cannot be raised more than four inches to click because of the overhang of the units. It’s extremely difficult and frustrating to fit the product in ideal conditions, and the slightest obstacle creates an insurmountable problem, added to this is the fact that the flooring itself is constructed on the cheap from sub-standard materials (it looks like cardboard and epoxy). The edges are fragile and easilly damaged. The slightest chip renders the product useless. Basically the product does not work in normal domestic applications, maybe in a pristine new build with a dead level concrete floor, but not in a normal house or shop. I really considered reporting the manufacturers to the advertising standards authority. A lot of people like doing DIY, but many, many people, people like me, go down the DIY route because they are, frankly, poor. I now have a plywood kitchen floor, which I can no longer afford to floor properly, sore knees, bruised hands and a pile of useless wood veneered cardboard. Please don’t buy this horrible, rip-off product.

  39. Tarkett is crap, stay as far away from it as you can. I put down about 20 boxes of it, and it only took me 2 weeks. This was one of the most difficult projects I have ever undertaken. , and I do alot of home improvement jobs. I can’t add much more that has not been written already. Wish I had found this site earlier. Oh yeah, just try to get tarkett to warranty it. We had some small spills that caused this crap to swell on the edges. Rep. came out to look and said it was a instalation problem. ??????????? So now , the only recourse I have is to try to steer as many people away from ths shi- as I possibly can. good luck!

  40. My wife and I have done two large bedrooms and our dining room with Harmonics from Costco. It does take a little while to get the feel for assembling the rows, especially a long row. Other than that, all of the installations went very well. It has held up very well, with no bubbles, gaps, or pop-outs anywhere.

    One thing I think is absolutely critical: You need a perfectly level floor. The padding underlayment can add a little bit of forgiveness, but if the laid area is bowed it may be impossible to get additional rows to lock without a lot of force. I wouldn’t even bother trying on a floor that isn’t flat.

    Makes sure you pay attention to the maximum run length requirement. Big rooms may need to be laid as two sections (with a joiner molding strip) so each row is not too long. Short rows (like say three planks) are very easy to add. Longer rows are more difficult, especially without helpers who know exactly what to do.

  41. I’m putting in Mohawk laminate flooring myself in my house and it’s easy. Most boards snap in on the long side. A few have to be knocked in horizontally with a tapping bar. Once a board is locked in on the long side, it then must be joined on the short side to another board with a tapping bar or – for the last piece in a row – with a pull bar. That’s it.

    Actually, most of the work is not installing the laminate flooring, but rather: removing existing flooring material; cleaning and prepping subfloor; removing, cleaning, and repainting baseboards; cutting door jambs; measuring and cutting the laminate boards at the end of rows, along walls, along angled walls, under door jambs; measuring and installing the base for the transition pieces; and reinstalling the baseboards.

    The flooring looks phenomenal, truly like real wood. These are not the cheap-looking wide pieces with fake plank lines running through it, but rather 6 1/4 inch individual planks, each “roughened” and designed to look like an individual plank of wood. If I didn’t know it was laminate I would think it’s wood.

    The one thing I wasn’t too sure about was whether I should remove the baseboards and install the boards under them, or leave the baseboards in, install the boards to 5/16 inch from the baseboards, and use quarter-round trim to cover the gap between the boards and the baseboards.

    I’m glad I decided to remove the baseboards. Yes, it’s more work to remove, clean, paint, and reinstall the baseboards. But the baseboards will fit OVER the new flooring and give you a far better, cleaner, more professional finish than those cheap-looking quarter-rounds. Best of all, though, when you remove the baseboards, you will find that there is plenty of space behind them running to the wood framing that runs along the subfloor. This extra space allows you to run the boards farther under the wall, to, say, 1/2 inch from the wood framing, which is plenty of expansion gap. When the baseboards are installed they will overlap the laminate boards by a good 1 inch, far more than the 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch overlap you get if you use quarter-round. Plus, because there will be so much overlap of the new boards by the baseboards, you don’t have to worry so much about the precision of the expansion gap against the wood framing. There’s plenty of room under that wall!

  42. Laminate Floating Flooring – D.I.Y – should come with a Mental Health Warning. “This product is hazardous to your mental health. You will require long term psychological treatment and medication for extreme anxiety, anger and post traumatic stress disorder, if you ‘ever’ successfully complete installation”.

    I can relate so well with all the other comments on this thread about the difficulties encountered in laying laminate floating flooring. What ‘should’ have taken a couple of hours, took more than 2 weeks. Eventually my partner and myself enlisted the help and assistance of my father-in-law, who is a retired master builder – and it still took him 2 days. And mind you, we were only doing one room 16 m2. Thank God we did not take on a more ambitious project and do more than this one room. Any more than that one room and I would have voluntarily packed my bags and admitted myself to a psychiatric facility for permanent care.

  43. It may not be the fault of installation!

    I installed 1600 sqft of Tarkett in my house. Different “lots” of this flooring seem to have different rates of expansion, so I have pieces that expand faster than the piece next to it and it buckles.

  44. I did our whole house, in 2007. I had never put down laminate before. It went in easier than the self stick floor tile in the kitchen! Yes I had a few problems in the first hour or two, but I quickly got the knack and it all went smoothly. That was four years ago, and the floor still looks good. BTW I used the cheapest one that Lowe’s had at the time. Only problem I had was around doorsills. In a few places I cut the boards too short and there is a gap. I filled them in with wood putty and after the moulding went in, you hardly notice it. Only con I have is the noise it makes when something is dropped on it, and the dogs nails when running across it.

  45. I forgot to add, it took me four days to complete. The area was approximately 1200 sq ft. and no I am not a professional, but I have always done woodworking as a pastime. I can’t understand why so many people have such trouble. I guess they don’t bother to follow the installation instructions.

  46. I also found the Swiftlock flooring from Lowes is crap! I’m on my third day of trying to lay a 12′x16′ room in my basement. I’m an experienced handyman, and this should have been a day’s job. My problem has been once I get a few rows into it I end up with the leading edge of the floor bowed outward (not upward) such that the next row will not snap in becasue of the curved leading edge. Drawing a chalk line along the edge shows the bow (proud in the middle of the floor) to be at least 1/4″ by the time you go from one end to another. The instructions are brief, and no website shown on the box or instructions, just an 1-800 number for Clarion Laminates, the licensee of the Swiftlock technology who makes the floors for Lowe’s. They are only there from 8-5 M-F, not convenient for us weekenders. They didn’t have much to help me, except to say to remove the whole floor, inspect the boards, and start again. As I tore it up I realized some of the joints were not fully snapped – you can tell because the joint will be like a hinge, where the tight joints will not flex and make the two rows feel like one board. They did say it is key to put the whole row together end to end first, then use a helper to put them in at a 45 degree angle and bang them in with your hands. The hand part doesn’t work, so like on another post above, I’ve been taking a scrap, snapping it into the outside edge of the new board, then tapping it to seat the board while it is tilted up between 30 and 45 degrees. I find then it goes almost flat, and a little more gentle tapping will cause it to lay down. I am staloled about again as I have 9′ of the floor laid, and again have a bow in the floor, so I need to start dissasembling to see where I didn’t get a perfect joint. I WILL NEVER BUY SWIFTLOCK AGAIN!!!!

  47. After another day I was able to finish the floor, but a number of times I had to pull up the previous row or two and reset them. Also, using the tapping blocks made from scraps of the floor is essential. Way too much challenge compared to what is advertised. I’d try Pergo next time as they have a strong reputation.

  48. i too am having the say problems as Geoff. Tarkett seems like a poor quality laminate flooring. I laid down the first room , fine. then i laid down the secound, as the instruction, and the problem started. the tarkett flooring system kepted on seperating. I tried 4 times, with and out a block, the same result.
    I have used other brands, not a problems. i have done 3 bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen, used the uniclick system – good results.

  49. I am trying to install Swiftlock from Lowe’s in a 12′ x 10′ room. I have not made it past the first row so far.

    I have followed the instructions that I had to track down on the internet, since there were no instructions in nine boxes of material.

    None of the pieces fit together. If I had only opened one of the boxes and realized how this stuff just will not fit together, I would have returned all of it. But now I have rifled through all the boxes, used material from each box, desperately trying to find any two that are in some way the same. This is so poorly manufactured that pieces are flaking off the top and crumbling in the box.

    I have to finish this, since I have already torn up the carpet and cannot afford to buy new material. But this has ended my days of shopping at Lowe’s. I will not return to that place for a nail. There is no excuse for peddling this worthless material.

  50. I’ve been installing laminate professionally forever, from the glue together technique to the clics of today. Think clics are tough? Ha!Ha! I will admit not all are the same, usually the higher the price, the better the construction, including “installability” ease. I agree Tarkett should consider another market other than laminates. I’ve done two of their laminates, the first a while back, but spent an hour in a tiny closet before it finally fit! The second I did yesterday. It had a beveled edge and was supposed to be done by the drop together technique, although the install sheet indicated sliding the width joints together before doing the length. Not possible!
    Tarkett was called and said 30 degree a length, slide next to adjacent width and drop. This worked fairly well, but tongues broke like toothpicks, lots of no color splotches on several boards and last row had to remove door jamb and casing for fit. Never had this problem with any other laminate(you could lower the board and still “snap it in”) Add to this a know it all helper, and I was ready to commit murder by days end! Vent over! Try Costco or Sam’s club for two products with great quality, low price, and easy fit!

  51. Laminate floors suck. I did not have any problems installing it by myself. One word of WARNING for anyone thinking of using it. If it is being used in a room you know will NEVER have any kind of liquids or drinks spilled on it then good. But ounce you spill anything on it your screwed. I have several places were it is rotting and falling apart because water got underneath it. It’s like particle board on the bottom side. The top is fairly durable but if water gets in the grooves it’s over. Really sucks when the spill was in the middle of the floor because you have to pull up all the flooring to get to the bad section to fix. Wish I had saved for real wood floors now. Never again will I own a laminate floor. I’m done with them. Way overrated stuff.

  52. just wait till someone “forgets” to immediately wipe up a spill. yes, laminate floors suck. they suck really well. and bloom at the joints.

  53. Ok , Been installing this product most of the day , moving at a snails pace, maybe slower. Ive got the first row done, Did I mention I have the first row completed. This thin 7 mil laminate flooring , shouldnt even be sold to the public. It is a rip off to say the least, if you are lucky enough to get one piece connected, the other piece pops out.This has been such a frustrating day, and one I thought would be productive. Wal mart cheap junk , should have spent more on a better product, maybe I would have my sanity back …

  54. I’m also struggling with row two and my sanity! On an internet search I found a suggestion to wipe out the grooves to get excess crud out that could prevent the “boards” from clicking. I will also try using the scap board to tap in. Also, for the person who couldn’t find the directions, I found mine in the inside of the folded label. It took me awhile to figure that out. I also had checked websites and a DIY book I have. So frustrating. After so much prep work I thought I’d be done quickly. NOT!

  55. 9 hours of my life wasted,always considered my self very handy when it comes to challenge,but i am not man enough to put tarkett flooring down.Bad knees,shoulders ,sore fingers and knuckles ,never again purchase this product.I demolished 3 packs of the 20 i had purchased before i called it the quits.Phoned the store i purchased it at and asked the salesperson if they would buy the 17 packs back and suppy me with new carpet and he agreed,so goodbuy to tarkett flooring and hello to my sanity

  56. Lowes swiftlock. Nightmare!!! We put them in our daughters room and I thought it looked good at first but same issue of buckling up. Not quite fitting together. Moved in furniture and now it’s sliding. Not sure what to do. It’s down. Lowes customer service sucked. Our flooring guide, George, sold us the hardwood under the presumption that it was padded so we wouldn’t have to buy and cut padding. The “pergo” brand was. But he sold and ordered swiftlock. 7 days later I go to pick it up, took an hour and a half, get home, no padding, needless to say after ranting I got two roles of free padding. I will never deal with lowes again and now I need to fix what I can of the room because I’m scared my child may hurt herself in there.

  57. Sounds like you didn’t use a tapping block. No offense, but being a blogger I would have thought you might have checked on-line for instructional videos or articles before beginning. I’ve been laying flooring after work for 2 days and am halfway done the first room. This is including some really tricky curving around a bottom stairs. You can’t hammer it directly, but the best way to do this is to lay a piece, fitting the tongue into the groove of the previous row and locking it, but placing it as closely as possible to the last piece in the current row. Then you lay the tapping block along the opposite edge and apply the hammer to the tapping block. You continue with swift, medium strength taps until the joints disappear.

    If you plan to do this again I’d suggest this video:

  58. I hate Tarkett! I had a laminate flooring in my office professionally installed using a commercial grade of laminate with a 10 year warranty, sold through Lowe’s After 10 months the laminate started peeling under a desk. After 2 months and 2 inspections later they determined that the peeling was Not a manufacturer’s defect and therefore was not under warranty. What is covered under a commercial warranty anyway?
    I hate Tarkett and Lowe’s.

  59. We are using Shaw laminate floor right now. My husband is struggling. The floors do not want to stay together. and the more he works on it, the more pissed off he is getting. This crap is insane! I can’t believe the trouble we are having with all of this. Wish to God we never got it!!!!

  60. Has anyone used Taiga brand laminate? My son-in-law has tons of experience installing all kinds and was assisted by a professional contractor on the last ~200 sq.ft of an 850 sq.ft. install of the 12 mm plank style boards.. The job went quickly and well. The professional commented, “Good job” on visual inspection of the entire install. 2 weeks later, two boards have separated at an entry way. They can manually be pushed back together, but separate again if walked on. As an interim solution to avoid further or continual separation, painter tape is holding them together with no problem. Anyone else had this problem?

  61. Mark you are a lifesaver. I happened upon this blog with the same problems and frustrations as everyone here. Most Youtube videos show you how to start the first row. How to snap and lock the flooring. How to tap a block. There is little to no info out there about common problems. After hours of prep work and hours of frustrating laying the floor only to have it pop apart. I only managed to get the first row to stay locked without gaps.

    Mark suggested in his post dated August 31, 2009 that we visit a website that turned out to be a tremendous help for my product – Lowes Swiftlock.

    http://www.kaindl.com/en/consultant/good-to-know/installation-videos/

    The video is an installation instruction for kaindl laminate flooring. I completed one 1 row at a time from end to end. No skipping.

    I locked the side of the planks together first. Taking care to align it perfectly. Then gently set the plank on top of the groove without locking it as indicated in the kaindl video.. Once I finished locking my row of (5) planks, I started to lift and lock supporting the seams as I went down the row. Even when it looked like a row would not lay flat, by the time I engaged the next row the previous row would eventually fall into place.

    I managed to do 13 rows without a single tapping block or banging on the planks. I have only one tiny gap in a low spot. It took 6 hours but I am an amatuer and I took my pure sweet time. Take a look at the video and see if it will work for you. Lowes Swiftlock is a crappy product. I had to switch out a few warped planks.

    If you have to reposition a plank unlock the whole row it sits in and start again. It will save you headaches later. I also noticed I had the most problems on the rows boards that had a spacer. I removed the spacers and eyeballed it. I plan to use a half round to cover imperfections.
    Good luck!

  62. Im an installer, and laminate flooring is the fastest easiest money i have ever made. Stop buying the cheap stuff and it will last. Get a 12 mm with a lifetime warranty and stop messing with the 7 & 8 mm junk. You get what you pay for. And, i never start with one row. 3 rows at a time, stair stepped, i get the first 3 rown done , cut and all, in about 5 minutes.

  63. I lock three pieces together in a stair step pattern, edge to edge, not end to end (stop reading the directions) then set in three more pieces next to them, locking them all edge to edge, with ends about 1/8″ to 1/4″ apart. Then with a helper standing on the first pieces (not necessary but helpful) i take a scrap piece with a good end on it, about 5″ long, and with a good pull bar (not the cheap flimsey ones that.come from lowes, get the heavy duty one from home depot) i smak that scrap a few times (no hammer needed but you can use one) and they lock right into place

  64. I just laid 500 sq foot of laminate but it was 8mm thick Nirvana with attached pad on the back of the plank. It was relatively easy, it is a 2 man job. cracks and gaps were not hard to prevent but you do need to keep good situational awareness to ensure you don’t cause any cracks or gaps. Laying a a 45 degree angle is possible but not optimal. I had a large portion of 45 angles and they were challanging. A square room would have been cake.

  65. I just laid 245 sf of 12 mm jamestown in just over 3 hours. Made $325 and went home and took a nap. I did have my gf handing me planks so i wouldnt have to get off my knees too many times.

  66. Just got my Swiftlock 8mm floors laid downstairs (took a professional handyman 3 days to do about 800 square feet (he had to use a tapping block). My choice was discontinued so I had to get boxes from multiple stores. They matched up fine.

    We just used the damaged pieces for end cuts (there were several damaged). Important to inspect and sort the wood before laying (back and front). Save the damaged pieces for end cuts. I let the wood sit in my house for several days to acclimate (read this was very important). May have to do with how they lay in the future. Also important to go with at least an 8mm (said many different people and places I first consulted). 10mm and 12mm even better (but since we’re not planning on being here that long, I went with a less expensive choice.

    My biggest issue is cleaning them. Everything I’ve tried so far is leaving streaks. Anyone have any ideas on the best way to keep it clean?

  67. I hate the stuff too. It looks beautiful, and my brother and I did my mothers entire home for her retirement gift. Upon completion I swore on my grave to never again mess with the stuff, and THAT was WITH TWO people doing it!

  68. Lol tex i remember thinking that a long time ago. Now i could lay the stuff in my sleep. I guess its a strange process when youre new to it

  69. Laminate can be a pain to fit at first but once you get the hang of it its really not that hard i found using the edging tool and a rubber mallet really helps to get the boards locked in properly and also you should make sure the first rows are exact because if they are slightly off then the rest will be to. I have fitted laminate in two rooms i remeber at first it seemed impossible to do but practise makes perfect and also if you are laying it on floorboards make sure there isnt any nails or carpet tacs sticking up and remember to leave a 10mm gap so that the laminate can expand depending on the temperature of the room if you dont the laminate will rise in middle and buckle.

  70. We had the kaindl one laminate flooring professionally installed and it makes a terrible cracking sound when walked on. Horrible.

  71. Thank you all.for the advice. I am definitely not going with the laminate that my husband chose. Now I am thinking vinyl plank. The reviews said it is very water proof, fairly scratch resistant, but does gouge. I don’t think that we do anything in the kitchen or family room to cause gauges, but I’ll take the chance. By the way, we are doing this because our engineered wood floor rotted from moisture near glass doors.

  72. Ok huge rant just want to let everyone know what I ran into when re-modeling my house. After a few months of reviewing the choices for wood flooring I chose to go with laminate wood floor. I then had to see who would offer the best deal at the best work, although I know Home Depot and the sub contractors is not the first choice this is who I chose to go with because they offer such a huge difference in price for installation even compared to lowes and other major flooring companies the difference is around the ball park of 3-5 thousand just for installation. I ordered the product after spending more than 2 days asking home depot questions, then the product came in and I spent another 3 weeks waiting for an install date. Today is the day for install, the installer shows up and the firs thing out of his mouth was I can not use the moisture barrier I had purchased with the rest of my materials from Home Depot even though home depot said that the air guard moisture barrier would be fine. Fact: if you purchase any flooring that comes with padding and or a type of moisture barrier built into it be very careful on what you can use for and actual moisture barrier on the floor, if it is too thick it will buckle your floor. Second and the biggest problem is he did a moisture test on my floor in a 4″ section that I had questions about, tested and it tested at 28% which is way to high, we chipped the slab to see if there was moisture any deeper and it was dry retested and it came up at less than 10%. We tested a crack and it went to 100% moisture with no signs of moisture I decided to test something I had read on the internet about these moisture testers giving false positives when they are close to metal. I stuck this contractors tester to my dry wall because my house has metal framing to see the result and guess what it read 100% moisture. The contractor said they would not install the floor if the moisture level exceeded manufacturer specifications so here I sit on the day I needed everything installed and not a single thing is done, oh yeah and I have 6+k in brand new laminate flooring with all of my old flooring removed so I have no floor and they won’t install a new one. So if you choose to go the route I did and use a company like Home Depot if they do a moisture test and tell you it is good don’t let them do another one there is no need, however if you do have moisture issues in the concrete don’t ignore it this can be a serious health concern on top of destroying your flooring. If anyone has any thoughts on a course of action so I can get my floor in let me know, oh and I sealed the floor after all this just so they could come retest and potentially make me wait 3 more weeks for them to come back.

  73. My husband and I are serious DIYers, very experienced, and we used the Armstrong swift lock product. Total waste of money. We were selling our home and the wood floor in the kichen was worn, so we thought this would give it a fresh look. Not only was much of the material faulty out of the box, the instructions they give about leaving room for expansion is not near enough. Despite generous expansion areas, it is still cupping. Worse yet, 9 out of 10 buyers hated the floor and wrote “fake cheap looking floor” and similar comments in their reviews of our lovely home. The floor was a real drag on its perceived value. So to sum up, poorly manufactured, hard to install, and takes value out of your home. Save up and use REAL wood!

  74. Stop trying to cut corners. BUY REAL HARDWOOD ! I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. There is NO SUBSTITUTE ..just alternatives that are low grade garbage and headaches. Shop around and be patient. You can get great hardwood for $3/sq.ft.
    By the time you add up your “laminate”, “underlay”, transitions etc ..you are not financially much ahead from installing a quality HARDWOOD FLOOR.

  75. My grandsons put down Tarkett laminate flooring 2 months ago in 2 bedrooms. It is already bubbling up in several places in both bedrooms and I am sick about it. We bought it at Menards so I called them about it. They gave me the number to call Tarkett. When I called Tarkett, they said I had to file a complaint with Menards. I feel like I will probably just get a runaround and not get anything done about it. Lesson learned, DON’T BUY TARKETT LAMINATE ANYWHERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  76. Ummm, no offense, but Tarkett ez plank laminate is prettyveasy for one person to install. You need a router to cut it, a good rubber mallet like an Estwing Deadhead, and and 2 installation tools, a pull bar, and a tongue and groove tapping block example Roberts. It will not pull apart and leave gaps if you are tapping it in. You don’t need 2 people. You have to follow the directions. Sorry, but I’ve ben using it for about 7 years.

  77. I have to add it is cheap. It’s no where ad nice as pergo. But it is $18 a box vs. $28 for Pergo.

  78. Hi i live here in the UK.

    It simply is Bloody awful stuff-looks cheap nasty and tacky.

    The property is cold, every single sound ECHOS like a hotel foyer.

    Simply the worst invention for a house EVER.

    (Ok i suppose if you’re a social housing tenant hyped up on Drugs/Energy drink)
    LOL

  79. I’m a diy’er and installed 570 s.f. ofTarkett Occasions in 3 big days. It was easy to work with and install. We looked at some that had been installed about 5 years ago and it looked great so we are confident that this will last well.

  80. I’m 26 no experience what so ever. Slapped down 900 sqft of laminate in 2 days in a 40′ long stretch, through halls, closets door frames etc. No issues at all. If you have that much trouble, I believe its user error not poor quality product. I think the problem is too many trying to be handy men when they barely know how to read a tape measure.

    Take care

  81. To be honest, I have never had any issues installing Tarkett laminate. Keep in mind, if you have never installed laminate before, you are in for a lessons learned. I don’t care if you are a handyman or not, there is some technique involved with installation and the more you do the better you become. If I may, I will suggest a few tips to ensure success:

    1. First thing is to take a plank and cut it up into pieces. (alot of them)
    2. Take off the trim, quarter round looks cheesy and everyone does it! Be original and professional.
    3. use the pieces cut as your “wedge” between the plank and the wall. Do not buy those spacers. The best spacers you could buy are the planks themselves.
    4. Inspect each piece before installing. (blow the edges to ensure there are no particulates from the manufacturing.)
    5. If the first piece isn’t seating well, grab another piece and try the one that did not seat well later on a different plank.
    6. when tapping use one of the spacers as a buffer between the tapping block and the plank in need of tapping.
    7. Once the first row is down, place all the remaining boxes on this row. (the weight of boxes ensures the first row stays put.
    8. If your first row moves, then the floor is not touching the spaces you previously put in.
    7. leave the spacers in the floor until your done! (spacers are the last thing to remove before trim is re-installed. (most people remove these as they go – Big no-no!)
    9. when tapping in planks, start softly more taps. (gently tap them in no rush 4 soft taps better than 2 hard ones)
    10. The MOST IMPORTANT TIP – Patience. a 200sq/ft room if you take your time with each piece, should take you about 4 hours. Now you are probably saying I did take my time and it did not work…. odds are then you took a short cut on one of my steps.
    The key on the separating and buckling is this:
    If it is buckling then it is not “floating” you may have some planks too close to wall….
    If separating then you are not evenly spaced along the wall (this is why you cut up a plank to ensure consistency).

    I by no means am an expert, but I have installed laminate flooring 5 times, and honestly by the third time, I figured out the nuances that are involved with the installation process. These steps were honed over the many iterations I have performed and I am beginning to lay laminate for the sixth time and I think it will be the best job yet.

    As far as brand, SHAW is the worst of the worst period. I have installed Shaw, Mohawk, Tarkett, and Kingston. These are your standard big box brands and out of these, Tarkett is the best when following my steps above.

    I hope this helps. Remember PATIENCE. Take your time and only worry about one piece at a time rather than the whole row.

  82. My hubby and I live with my sister and her hubby, they decided that they wanted to redo the floors in the living room/ foyer…. They bought the house a year ago… It was carpeted and we live in Florida. When we pulled the carpet up there was sooooo much sand underneath it was rediculous! Reason they wanted to change it. The flooring guy said it was an easy project, ha! It took three days and baseboards still aren’t installed, there are two boards that have gaps, not to mention products like tappers, and stuff that had to be bought, and my sister added extra felt sticky pads to those cause the way they came was still chipping the laminate flooring. Three days later the floor is laid but it moved and inch away from the wall so now there is a baseboard issue… I know after seeing this issue, I will never get this flooring myself….. It was wAy more difficult the the flooring people made it sound! Not to mention it cost 1000.00 bux so far! Not a cheap DIY!

  83. My daughter & I did my dining room a couple of years ago with the Shaw Swiftock plus. It took us 1 day, despite the fact that my hope is more than a century old & has corners that aren’t quite square. We followed the instructions & started the first row with a strip of planks ripped to accommodate the out-of-square. The first 2 or 3 rows were the worst, but once we got the hang of it, it went smoothly & quickly. A few times things were not seating quite right & I used the edge of a metal square, inserted into the groove & tapped very gently until it went in. So far I have no complaints, & am getting ready to do it again in the adjoining kitchen. The only question I have is, can I use a steam cleaner on it? I haven’t been able to find the answer online.

  84. Absolutely do not use a steam cleaner on laminate. Use bellawood cleaner if you can get it where you are. It can be bought at lumber liquidators

  85. P.s. Ive installed many thousands of feet of shaw swiftlock. Never had a problem locking it. Though i agree their 7mm is garbage unless you’re not planning on using the floor much

  86. I layed a laminate floor for the first time ever and yes the second row baffled me. So I called on a friend that did this stuff for many years to give me some pointers. This guy was amazing. I was laying my floor after 5min of instruction. Placing end to end your second row once you line up a board give it a wiggle at an angle and as you lay it flat it will click tight together. You can use a piece of the laminate scrap to tap the boards tightly in place using the scrap piece and a rubber mallet. No need to pound hard on it. I found clicking the entire row length wise after completing the ends first worked best. Click in the length wise at an angle all the way down the row before pressing it down completely to the floor. This involves a little wiggle also when clicking the parts in as a row. I did it myself in one day on a 15′ X 13′ room. It was hard work but it looks great!

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