laminate floor, installing

The Ultimate Guide to Sealing Laminate Floors

Many homeowners wonder if it is recommended to seal laminate floors. The short answer is “yes,” but there’s a lot more to this task than simply picking up a basic can of sealer and painting it onto your new laminate. When properly sealed, laminate floors resist spills better and offer greater durability. This means a better, longer-lasting floor for you to enjoy through the years to come. This guide to sealing laminate floors covers pros and cons, the best sealant to use, along with step-by-step directions for protecting your flooring. Let’s get started!

Sealing Laminate Floors: The Pros and Cons

This quick list of pros and cons will help you decide whether you’d like to leave your installation as-is, or go forward with the task of applying sealant to laminate flooring.

Pros

  • The right sealant provides excellent spill protection.
  • When you seal laminate floor expansion spaces in kitchens and bathrooms, there’s less risk of subfloor damage in the event of a large spill or leak.
  • Sealant is inexpensive.
  • It’s easy to apply sealant to a laminate floor.

Cons

  • Some laminate flooring brands are not designed to be sealed.
  • Laminate floors can be slippery and dangerous when sealant is applied to the entire floor.
  • When sealant is applied to laminate flooring against manufacturer’s recommendations, the floor warranty may be voided.
laminate floor, installing
New laminate floor, Daniel M. Hendricks

Just the Edges!

There are a few guides out there which recommend applying a coat of waxy polish or sealant to an entire laminate floor. While there may be some brands that work with this type of sealant, most manufacturers recommend avoiding the application of sealant to an entire laminate floor. The reason for this is that the majority of laminate flooring brands feature plastic materials in their top layers. This top layer is already moisture-resistant, and sealant will not absorb. The fiberboard cores are usually protected with polymers and waxes, and once the laminate pieces have been properly locked together, moisture won’t penetrate.

Now that you know that you’re off the hook when it comes to sealing the entire floor, which portions of your laminate flooring need sealant?
The answer depends on the floor location and the likelihood of spills. Most manufacturers recommend sealing the perimeter of the laminate floor, at least in areas where spills might occur. Sealing the perimeter prevents water from reaching the edge of the floor and making its way underneath the laminate boards, where it might be absorbed by the core. If this happens, swelling and damage can occur, and this can ultimately lead to the need for a costly replacement.

Essential Materials

The type of sealant to use for your laminate flooring depends on the laminate brand and what the manufacturer recommends. Most brands are compatible with 100 percent silicone caulk. There are specialty laminate sealers available as well. For example, Pergo offers floor sealant in different colors to match the laminate that it offers. These sealants aren’t compatible with all of Pergo’s flooring choices, though. If you have Pergo laminate and you want to use a matching sealer, be sure to double-check to ensure that the sealer you choose is the right one for your flooring.

You may need a caulk gun to apply sealant to laminate floors, but this isn’t always the case. If you’re using a simple tube of silicone sealant, you can just squeeze it out by hand.

How to Seal Laminate Flooring the Right Way
The best way to seal laminate floors is to remove any baseboards that might be in place before getting started, so that your sealant protects the expansion space between the laminate and the structure next to it, rather than simply sitting on top of the laminate where it’s likely to peel off.

1. If you need to remove baseboards, be sure to do so carefully. Use a straight prybar with a slim block of wood wedged beneath the prybar neck and the wall. Slowly start to pull the baseboard away from the wall using even pressure. Move along the edge of the baseboard and loosen the entire thing before removing it from the wall. If you’re not going to put it back right away, mark the back side with “UP” and an arrow to indicate which edge should point toward the ceiling. You may also need to note which wall the baseboard belongs to, in the event that you have several similarly sized pieces of baseboard to work with.

2. Be sure to read the instructions on the laminate floor sealant container. You should find notes about pre-cleaning the floor, ensuring that the surface is completely dry before getting started, and perhaps some information about working within an optimal temperature range.

3. When the floor is ready, open your sealant. Using the appropriate mechanism, apply a thin line of sealant to the area where the laminate flooring meets the wall.

4. Repeat this all around the room. Be sure to use extra care with sealing the areas around cabinets and doorjambs, particularly when those doorjambs lead to the outside, or join up with a space such as a bathroom or laundry room, where there is a greater likelihood that moisture might make its way onto the laminate. Take extra care to seal all around plumbing fixtures, too. Ensure that you seal all around toilet bases, sink bases, bathtubs, and shower enclosures. In the kitchen, ensure that you coat the are where the laminate floor meets up with the base of the dishwasher or its pedestal. If your refrigerator has a water line, seal that area as well.

5. Remove floor vent covers and seal the area between the edge of the laminate flooring and the subfloor. Let the sealant dry per the manufacturer’s instructions before replacing the vent covers. This way, you won’t damage the sealant next time you remove the vent covers for cleaning.

6. When the sealant is dry, replace your baseboards. You may be able to reuse the original finish nails, or you might need to obtain new ones.

How Much Time Does It Take to Seal Laminate Floors?

This is a quick project! Depending on the size of your room, expect to spend an hour or two, minus any additional time needed for the sealant to dry.

What is the Average Cost of Sealing Laminate Flooring?

Laminate floor sealant is fairly inexpensive, as is silicone caulk. Depending on the size of your project and the sealant brand you choose, expect your cost to begin around ten to fifteen dollars.

That’s it! You’ve sealed your laminate flooring and it now has extra protection from moisture that might make its way under the edges. Be sure to double-check the label on the sealant to determine if reapplication is ever required, and if so, how often it should take place.

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