We decided on doing it this way only after a long process. First, we drew on our limited DIY experience and thought long and hard. Then, like any other 21st-century person who is stumped on anything, we did some Googling. Then, we called several home improvement stores for advice.
When installing laminate flooring against the wall, you're supposed to leave a small gap so the material can expand and contract with different conditions. You then cover the gap later by installing baseboard molding.
|Our first plank with the spacers against the walls.|
This was pretty straightforward when it was just against the walls, but we weren't sure what to do when we got to the baseboard heater: end the flooring right before the heater so we leave a gap between the flooring and the baseboard heater OR slide the flooring underneath the heater? If we slide it underneath the heater, would the flooring expand and dislocate the heater? If we leave a gap, how do we cover the gap?
It just seemed like nobody knew how to do it. Googling resulted in nothing; just similar questions with no answers. We had to call three different home improvement stores before we got a good answer.
First store: Home Depot #1
Home Depot (HD): "You need to leave as much space as possible between the flooring and the heater."
Me(M): "How much?"
HD: "As much as possible. Hold on (She asks associate: "Hey, how much space between flooring and heater?...Okay.") Yeap. About 3 inches."
M: (Decided the Home Depot person either didn't understand my question or didn't know what she was talking about.) "Okay, thanks."
Second store: Home Depot #2
HD: "So is the heater on the floor?"
M: "No, it's a baseboard heater. It's on the wall, but really low so there's very little space underneath. It's just enough for the laminate, but the laminate won't have space to expand."
HD: "Okay...So the laminate, it's on the floor or the wall?"
M: "Uhh...on the floor." (At this point decided she also didn't know what she was talking about and stopped listening.)
Third store: Rona
Rona (R): "You can do it either way."
M: "But if I leave a gap between the laminate and the heater, then how do I cover the gap?"
R: "Well, you gotta sacrifice something, right?"
M: "Um yeah...but is there a way to cover the gap?"
R: "You can use a quarter-round molding. Just glue it to the laminate."
M: "I didn't think of that!"
R: "If you don't use the heater, then you can probably get away with sliding the laminate underneath 'cos it won't expand too much."
So that was how we finally discovered a good way to handle the baseboard heater situation. We were ready to accept that it was some sort of an industry secret that professional laminate floor installers guard with their lives to preserve the profession. That Rona guy was a lifesaver.
This is how the flooring looks when you get closer.
We still have to install some quarter-round molding around the heaters, but we can live with the gap for now while we tackle more urgent projects. After the molding goes on, I imagine it'll look seamless and the floor will have enough room to expand.