Interior designers have come up with some fascinating ways to breathe life into rooms from unique patterns on the floor and accent rugs to unusual wall treatments. One of the more recent trends has been using flooring on the walls, which will definitely draw attention to a room. Not all flooring is suitable for walls, however, and if you’re considered using laminate, there are some things you’ll need to know beforehand.
What type of Laminate Flooring should I use on Walls?
We’ve seen homeowners use several types of flooring for wall coverings, but laminate is a little different from your typical synthetic board or wooden plank. This multi-layered style of flooring is made from synthetic and natural wood. This can complicate things when you intend to use it on the wall instead of the floor in your home.
The first thing to consider is the size of the laminate itself. Wider boards are more expensive, and the same goes for laminate that is 12mm thick. This flooring is typically sold in four sizes with 7mm being the thinnest. It’s also the best size for a laminate wall installation for two reasons – the price and its weight.
Installing laminate flooring across an entire wall isn’t quite as easy as one might think, especially if you’re using heavy floorboards. 7mm laminate will help in that regard and can be considerably lighter than thicker 10mm or 12mm laminate. It’s also cheaper, which can be extremely important unless you only plan on installing a small accent wall.
You’ll also want to keep the underlayment in mind depending on how you intend to attach the planks to the wall. Some types of laminate flooring come with pre-attached underlayment, which isn’t ideal for use with certain adhesives. That includes cork underlayment and synthetic materials that may not adhere properly with glue.
Simply put, you don’t need to purchase the most expensive laminate on the market if it’s going on your wall. AC ratings and water-resistance are no longer considered “must-have” features, and you’ll never need a special vacuum cleaner to tidy up the flooring on the walls.
Once you’ve decided what type of laminate you want to install on the walls, the next step is to put together a quick shopping list. Many of the typical tools used to install laminate flooring, are also helpful for wall installations aside from a few standard pieces of equipment.
- Circular Saw
- Step Ladder
- Safety Goggles
- Stud Finder
- Rubber Mallet & Tapping Block
- Utility Knife
- Tape Measure
- Nail Gun
- Brad Nails
- Pry Bar
The most expensive piece tool on this list is a circular saw along with the brad nailer. A compressor is needed for the nailer, but both of these tools can be rented from a variety of places locally. You can also rent a circular saw for the project, although there are plenty of affordable models between $40- $60 as well.
You can learn a bit more about the tools and pricing in our laminate tools guide, but there are dozens of options with adhesives. Some companies only recommend using clear adhesive silicone, while others tell their users to use a construction-grade adhesive like liquid nails.
Our advice is to refer to the manufacturer of the laminate, as many have guides or FAQs involving laminate flooring being used on walls.
Before you start…
While installing a new wall covering is exciting, before you attach the first board you need to prep the wall itself. That includes removing any baseboard or moulding on the wall where the laminate will be installed if you doing a run from floor to ceiling. We covered that process in our laminate removal guide, and it’s where the small pry bar comes in handy.
Check the wall for any imperfections and remove plug covers or wall vents that will be in the way. The wall needs to have a clean surface free of dust and dirt, and nothing loose like wallpaper that could hinder adhesion with glue. If you are using old laminate flooring on a wall that has previously been used on the floor, check the boards for damaged edges, ends, and their backside for imperfections.
With new flooring, you need to follow the manufacturer’s directions for acclimation. This involves leaving the flooring in the room where it will be installed for a set period of time. Acclimation allows many types of flooring to become accustomed to the conditions in your home, which prevents problems down the line.
This is where you’ll want to use the stud finder. You can mark lines on the wall, which allows you to find a place to use nails well in advance. It’s also important to consider any trim or moulding you’ll add around the edges of the laminate floor wall.
During the installation process, remember to stagger the joints or ends of the boards as you would with flooring. If you plan to hang a television set or anything heavy afterward, you’ll want to plan ahead in those areas as well. We highly advise any homeowner to consider how permanent this renovation will be as removing laminate from drywall will damage it.
In this case, the best way to keep your walls in good shape is to install a thin piece of OSB board or similar materials that offers a degree of protection. These can be attached with a handful of screws to the studs, and the holes left behind are easier to patch than replacing sections of sheetrock. When using screws or nails in sheetrock, remember to keep the placement of wiring and plumbing in mind and use the studs.
How to Install Laminate Flooring on Walls
- Measure the length of the wall where the laminate will be installed and then lay out enough planks on the floor to begin the first row. Remember to leave 3/16” between the wall and the end piece for an expansion gap
- Take the adhesive caulk and apply it on the back of your first board in an “S” like pattern to ensure good, even coverage across the board.
- With the tongue-side towards the floor, take the plank and firmly press it against the wall. Make sure the extended “groove” faces up when the board is on the wall so you can lock the next row into place.
- Take the nail gun and shoot a brad nail into the “extended groove” of each plank on each marked stud on the wall. Use enough air to make sure the nail doesn’t protrude and interfere with the next row.
- Repeat the process for the next board in the row and lightly use the mallet and tamp block to remove any gaps between the boards as you go. Complete the process to the end of the first row, and then check the run with a level so that you can make any adjustments before proceeding.
- To start the second row, use a cut piece to keep the joints from lining up, and then angle the click-lock edges together before snapping the board into place. Use the block and mallet to lock the boards firmly in place before nailing and repeat this process until the project is complete.
- Reattach or install new moulding or trim as needed around the perimeter of the room. Turn on the power if it was shut off, and proceed to enjoy your new laminate flooring wall!
This process covers running a laminate flooring across an entire wall of the room, as you would with flooring. If you intend to only install laminate on a small section or use it on an accent wall, the process largely remains the same as you can see in this video from Pergo.
Laminate flooring provides a nice balance between hardwood and LVP when used on a wall, and is more affordable than either of those floor coverings. While it’s not quite as easy to work with as luxury vinyl, it will appear more realistic and can totally change the look of a room. If you’re interested in laminate for the floors in your home instead of the wall, we have you covered.