Laminate flooring is a great option for homeowners who want the look of hardwood without the expense. Laminate floors are durable, attractive, and offer one of the best values for homeowners seeking solid flooring. However, even the best flooring can be damaged by heavy objects or suffer other significant damage that is irreparable. Fortunately, it is possible to replace individual planks and make your floor look good as new. Below is how you can easily perform this job yourself:
1. Work carefully to avoid causing additional damage - The first step in replacing damaged flooring is to remove all affected planks. This will need to be done carefully, as laminate flooring planks are interlocked using a tongue-and-groove system. Attempting to lift a plank without preparing ahead of time will damage adjacent planks by breaking tongues or separating layers.
2. Cut a rectangle in the center of the damaged plank - Begin by making a rectangular cut inside the damaged plank using a trim saw or circular saw. Be sure the saw is adjusted to the appropriate cutting depth so the blade doesn't strike the concrete or subfloor beneath it. When cutting the rectangle, allow approximately one-inch margins to create a picture-frame effect in the plank. Pry up the internal cutout from inside the plank with a flat-blade screwdriver and discard it.
3. Cut to the corners and remove the pieces - Once you have cut out the inner piece of the damaged plank, take a sharp-bladed utility knife and carefully cut from the corners of the cut out to the corners where the plank meets its adjacent planks. After making these cuts, you should be able to easily pull out the remaining pieces of laminate, leaving an empty plank-sized opening.
4. Prepare a new plank to place inside the opening - Since planks are installed by locking the tongue of each into the grooves of the adjacent planks, it is impossible to insert a replacement piece into the opening without special preparation ahead of time. That is why you will need to remove the tongue from the new piece; removal is simple, as you can use a utility knife to slice the tongue from the piece. Be sure to trim as closely as you can to the edge of the plank to ensure a tight fit.
5. Glue the plank to the subfloor - After cutting the tongue from the replacement plank, you will need to apply adhesive to the bottom of the plank. There are a variety of adhesives available, but be sure to purchase one that will adhere well to the laminate flooring's underside and the subfloor.
Apply the adhesive in a zig-zag pattern across the bottom of the plank. Be careful to avoid putting adhesive too close to the edges of the plank to prevent it from pushing out from the edges when you install the plank.
6. Install the new plank - When the adhesive has been applied to the plank's underside, you are ready to insert it into the gap. Remove any dust or other debris in the gap to create a clean surface, and then lower the plank into the opening carefully. Push it down using your hands to ensure it fits snugly in the opening and that its surface is flush with the surrounding planks. If any adhesive squirts out of the sides of the plank, immediately wipe it away using a damp sponge.
7. Apply weight to the plank - To avoid the plank pushing up out of its opening as the adhesive dries, you will need to place weight on top of the plank. Lay sheets of newspaper over the plank, and then place bricks or other heavy, flat objects on top of the newspaper. Try to cover the entire area on top of the plank to provide uniform weight and prevent the plank from being uneven with its neighbors. Allow the bricks to remain on top of the plank for at least 48 hours, and then carefully remove them to avoid scratching the floor.