Adding an accent wall is a great way to update a room, tie in different finishing elements to create an aesthetic flow, and add value to your home. Using brick or stone veneer, faux stone products, wood flooring, or pallet wood to make a wall pop are common practices. So, if you’re wondering if you can use laminate flooring on walls, we can help!
Laminate flooring is easy to clean, durable and looks great on walls. Just clean the wall and remove electrical plates, HVAC covers, and baseboards. Installation is similar to the floor, but you use construction adhesive or wood flooring tape and blind nailing to secure them to the wall.
In this article, we’ll discuss using laminate flooring on walls for accents, backsplashes, and other locations. We’ll explain how to install laminate on walls, including concrete and garage walls. Plus, we’ll look at what the best adhesive is for vertical application on walls. By the end of the read, you’ll hopefully have the answers you’re looking for.
Can You Use Laminate Flooring on Walls?
Laminate flooring is multi-layered and is typically made of natural wood and synthetic materials. It is available in thicknesses from about 1/4″ to around 1/2″, ranging from 18” to 72” in length, and from less than 4” to more than 7” in width. Some have a two or three plank width look or butcher block look, but are actually one plank width made to look like more, and will look great in small spaces.
You can use laminate flooring on walls, but it is important to note that there are different types of laminate flooring, and some work better than others in vertical applications. The width and thickness of the planks affect their weight and cost, with wider and thicker planks being the most expensive and heaviest. Fastening lighter material on walls is usually easier, while the plank width affects coverage and aesthetics.
When used on a wall, it won’t have to withstand foot traffic or be vacuumed. Therefore, it needn’t be top quality or have pre-attached underlayment, nor will it require special cleaning attachments. The location of the wall and how it is finished, however, may affect how the laminate planks are fastened to the wall, and if there are other factors that might affect the flooring choice.
Different wall surfaces may work better with some laminate products versus others. Plus, where you plan to install the laminate planks can affect the choice. Basements, bathrooms, and garages typically fluctuate in temperature and moisture presence, which can affect the laminate’s structural behavior, so it may be better to select a different material.
How to Install Laminate Flooring on Walls
Select a lightweight or thin laminate flooring that doesn’t have pre-attached padding or underlay. How the planks join together affects the ease with which they can be installed. Laminate typically comes in click or quick-lock, drop-and-lock, tongue and groove, overlapping, and angle-to-angle edge joints for fastening. You may want to select a product that is easier to connect from a ladder too.
Since laminate wood flooring contains both natural wood and synthetic materials, it responds to environmental factors in similar ways to both wood and synthetic products. In other words, it can expand or contract with moisture and temperature variation.
So, before installing it anywhere, whether new or recycled flooring, it should be acclimatized to the room it will be installed in for at least 48 to 72 hours. If using recycled or pre-used flooring, make sure it is free of any adhesive.
While you wait for the flooring to acclimatize, locate and mark where the studs are and prepare the wall to be covered. Make sure the floor and wall joint are level, otherwise, draw or snap a line for the first row to follow so the wall planks go on level. Additionally, make sure the wall itself is smooth and flat, dips of 3/16” or less won’t affect glue or tape adhesion, or be visible once the planks are in place.
The wall surface should be clean, free of wallpaper (leave the drywall paper in place) and paneling, flaking paint, water damage, and be perpendicular to the floor; it shouldn’t be sloped or angled. Remove baseboards and any window or door trim on the wall to be covered, as well as electrical cover plates and HVAC vent covers. You may need to loosen and extend some switches and receptacles once the laminate is in place.
Installing laminate planks on a wall is similar to floor installation, except that it can’t be a floating floor on a wall, it has to be fixed to the wall. This can create some issues since you need to allow the planks to expand and contract.
Most floating floors have a 1/8” to 3/16″ gap at the perimeter which is hidden under the baseboard to allow for movement. A gap around the perimeter may be an option to consider and can be covered with trim, but may not be the vision you imagine.
Silicone adhesive caulking, construction adhesive, and wood flooring tape all work to hold the planks to the wall and allow some expansion and contraction movement to occur. They also minimize the number of nails required to hold the boards in place. The three methods work best on laminate flooring with overlapping end joints, but not so well with interlocking or angle-to-angle end joints.
When installing laminate planks, start at the floor and work up row by row. Make sure the starter row is level with the floor or line marked on the wall. Having the receiving groove up will make it easier to connect and tap planks together.
Nail the base of the first row to the studs to hold it level and in place so there is a 1/4″ gap with the floor, the baseboard will hide the nails and gap. Most laminate flooring has a built-in gap that allows for some lateral expansions, so don’t force the plank end joints in tight, only until they click, lock, or lap.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for floor installation. If they say to install from left to right due to the location and type of joint, then recognize that you’ll need to install on the wall working from right to left. Do a dry run with the first couple of rows on the floor and make sure to stagger the end seams, unless you want them to be straight lines up the wall.
Planks that butt to the perimeter may need to have the end joint trimmed off too. Additionally, you may find it helpful to cut off the interlocking end joints if using floor tape to fasten planks to the wall.
Apply the adhesive to the wall or the back of the plank in a zig-zag manner, or use vertical strips of double-sided flooring tape. Only put enough on the wall for the number of rows you can install before the glue begins to skim over.
The first row and last row typically are the only ones that get face nailed, and the nail heads should be close enough to the edge to be coverable by the trim. All other rows are nails so the heads disappear in the joint seam, in other words, blind-nailed. Gabled or sloped ceilings will require planks to be ripped to fit, so make sure to order at least 10% more flooring than needed, and check that the lot numbers match too.
Once the wall is covered, install baseboards and trim to hide the perimeter gap, and replace electrical and HVAC covers. Wipe off any dust with a damp cloth, clean up any mess, return furniture, and decorate as desired. Now, sit back and enjoy your handiwork.
Can You Use Laminate for Backsplash?
Laminate flooring can be used on walls, so by extension, it can be used as a backsplash too. The flooring is an inexpensive alternative to solid wood and many types of tiles, and it’s attractive too. It’s easy to install and fit around outlets, switches, and cabinetry. Plus, since floors are magnets for dirt and spills and are easy to clean, so too would the laminate boards be as a backsplash.
If you’re planning on using laminate, as in the roll or sheet laminate used for many countertops, consider covering the existing drywall with 1/4″ plywood or particle board. Most laminate manufacturers don’t recommend installing their product onto drywall as the glues don’t adhere well between the two surfaces. If properly installed, laminate is another great backsplash option.
Can You Put Laminate Flooring on Concrete Walls?
Exposed interior concrete walls were an architectural and designer novelty and industrial look in many businesses and homes. Today, the drab gray has lost its appeal and hasn’t proved very inspirational. Although the dry, smooth surface is ideal for resurfacing, it may be better to leave it to a professional.
Covering concrete walls with laminate flooring is similar to covering drywall. However, the adhesive needs to be quick setting and withstand the potential for moisture from the concrete, which typically isn’t a concern on interior walls clad in drywall. Additionally, since nails aren’t usually an option, a bracing system is commonly required to keep the planks in place until the glue sets.
Basement concrete walls may have a higher moisture content than above-ground walls, so installing laminate planks on the walls directly may not be feasible. Consider strapping and insulating the walls, including a vapor barrier, and cladding it with drywall before covering it with laminate flooring.
Is Laminate Flooring Suitable for Garage Walls?
As garages transition to man caves, additional play areas, or extra living space, laminate flooring has become a big seller. The laminate planking is used on garage floors as it wears well, is durable, and is easy to install, clean, and maintain. It’s also becoming common on garage walls in an effort to blend and transition the utilitarian space with the rest of the living area.
Lightweight boards can be attached to the wall studs or drywall with adhesive or tape and blind-nailed through the seams, similar to installing laminate flooring on interior walls. Ensure a 1/8” to 3/16″ gap is left around the perimeter for expansion too.
Seasonal movement will occur, but the gap should prevent buckling or warpage and can be covered with trim. It should be noted, however, climate-controlled rooms where temperature and humidity fluctuations are minimized allow less seasonal movement.
What is the Best Adhesive for Laminate Flooring Planks?
The best adhesives for securing laminate planks to walls are those that aren’t water-based. Polyurethane and urethane-based adhesives will bond with most permeable and impermeable surfaces but won’t be absorbed by the wood fibers in the laminate plank. PVA (polyvinyl acetate) or water-based glues can be sucked up by the wood fibers and cause discoloration and hard bumps or ripples in the plank.
The adhesive should tack up quickly, even if using nails or brads for blind-nailing. Polyurethane and urethane adhesives are formulated to tack and set up quickly and often won’t require bracing or clamps. The adhesives work well on drywall, wood, ceramic, metal, masonry blocks, and even concrete.
Acrylic-based adhesives work well too but aren’t as durable. The urethane or polyurethane adhesives remain flexible and can also help reduce sound vibration transfer. Plus, they remain bonded through expansion and contraction movement.
Adiseal Hi-Grab Extra Strong Grab Adhesive, Gorilla Heavy Duty or Max Strength Construction Adhesives, and Loctite PL Fast Grab Premium are among the best, but Liquid Nails, Sika, and Unibond also have excellent products. Check the laminate manufacturer’s instructions or website for any adhesive recommendations too.
Laminate flooring is less expensive than solid wood and typically withstands temperature and moisture fluctuations better too. Although common on floors, the laminate planks are now being used to cover drywall and exposed concrete walls as an accent wall and to add warmth and aesthetic appeal.
Installation is similar to floor covering, but construction adhesive or wood flooring tape and blind nailing keep the planks from cascading off the wall. Hopefully, you now not only know you can use laminate planks on walls, but you have a better understanding of how to install them on walls.