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Laminate floors are easy to keep clean and neat looking. Many laminate floors are also easy for the do-it-yourselfer to install. Once the floor is installed, you may realize the need to attach something like a closet track to the floor. Tacking into the floor can create structural weak points and buckling but is possible.
Nailing laminate flooring is not recommended, but screws can be used if you approach it carefully. If you can avoid it, it's best not to make holes in your laminate at all.
Splintering and Cracking
Laminate is a pressed board product, finished with a plastic film that gives it the look of real wood. The finish isn't just for appearance; it helps provide structural strength to the underlying board. The board itself, under the plastic, is subject to splintering and cracking when the top plastic coating is penetrated. This is why you should avoid the need to tack anything into the floor once it is set in place.
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When possible, plan ahead for closets or other areas where penetrating the laminate floor surface will be necessary. Create the proper frame with brackets installed at the necessary points and install the floor around the brackets to reduce the need to drill into the laminate surface.
The Best Choice
Drilling and installing screws is preferred over nailing anything into the laminate floor. It's best to begin with a pilot hole: Use a drill bit slightly smaller than the screw you'll use, at high speed to create a very smooth hole with minimal cracking to the underlying pressed board. Once the hole is created, screw the bracket in place.
Nailing laminate flooring isn't recommended. Nails don't always go in as intended, with the correct angle and required velocity to prevent cracking or damaging the surface. There's also a risk of missing the nail, and damaging the finish of the laminate. Whichever option you choose, once you've punctured the laminate, the structural damage to that board is permanent; you cannot sand and start over. The best you can hope for is to start over with a piece of laminate left over from the original installation.
Improving the Results
When drilling into laminate, one of the concerns is slippage of the drill bit on the slick finish of the plastic laminate. Use a new drill bit to ensure it is as sharp as can be. Also, place a piece of masking tape on the mark to give the drill bit traction in the initial penetration phase. Make the hole large enough to insert plastic anchors into the slot, similar to those used in drywall. Secure the screws into the anchors for best results.
Quality of Laminate
The final results of tacking anything into laminate flooring will be contingent on the quality of the laminate floor itself. Many brands and degrees of quality are available. Before starting your project, check the manufacturer's website or product literature, as well as with the store representatives where you purchased the flooring, to determine if the laminate you've purchased will withstand the drilling.