How to Install Laminate Flooring Like a Pro

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Laminate flooring allows homeowners to achieve the look of wood for less and is easy to install. In fact, tongue-and-groove or snap-fit ​​joinery makes installing laminate flooring ideal for the average DIYer. Anyone who is at least moderately handy, has a few basic tools, and is able to follow instructions can learn how to install laminate flooring.

Tools and materials

Before you start

Before you begin, there are a few things you need to know about buying and installing laminate flooring. First, you will need to calculate the square footage of the room so you know how much product to buy. To do this, multiply the lineal yardage of the room’s width by the lineal yardage of the room’s length to find the area, then add 10% for errors and waste. Laminate flooring typically comes in 22 to 24 square foot boxes. So divide the square footage plus 10% by the square footage of each box to determine how many boxes you need to buy.

After purchasing the laminate floor, open the boxes and allow the product to acclimatize to the atmosphere of the house. Leave it for 24-48 hours before installing.

Also, understand that even the best laminate flooring Products require an underlay to act as padding, support and a moisture barrier. For best results, purchase the best laminate underlay possible.

Finally, understand that the condition of the subfloor is important. If the subfloor is uneven or has large pieces missing, these defects should be corrected before installing layers over it. Laying a few sheets of ¼-inch lauan on the floor should correct any irregularities, but missing pieces of subflooring might need patching.

STEP 1: Gather materials and confirm measurements.

Before ripping out the old flooring, make sure you have the tools and materials needed for the project. Once you start laying the floor, having to rush to the visitor center will only cause stress and delays.

Again, plan to buy at least 10% more flooring than you need to account for the boards that will be cut for the end fittings.

how to install laminate flooring

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STEP 2: Acclimate the new flooring to the space.

Floors shrink and expand as temperatures and humidity levels change, so at least 24 to 48 hours before installation, acclimate the flooring to the conditions of the space. Lay it flat or stack the boards in the room where they will be installed. Don’t forget to remove the flooring from the plastic packaging; this promotes air circulation, which aids the acclimatization process.

STEP 3: Prepare subfloor for laminate installation.

Remove and store base moldings before doing anything else. You may then want to remove the existing floor, particularly if it is damaged or if the room has exceptionally low ceilings. Starting at the edge of a wall, start gently lifting the old flooring. Remove nails and staples (or tape, if the job involves pulling carpet). Clean up debris and inspect the subfloor surface for areas needing repair.

If you are installing laminate floors over concrete, it is very important to install a vapor barrier. Concrete is porous and absorbs moisture. Your best course of action is to seal the floor with a concrete sealer, let it cure, then install a high-quality underlayment over the concrete before laying down the laminate floor.

how to install laminate flooring

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STEP 4: Install underlayment.

Some laminate flooring is sold with a pre-attached foam underlay (also known as a vapor barrier). Otherwise, purchase the underlayment separately and install it one strip at a time, starting with the longest wall. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for forming the butt edges and sealing the seams.

STEP 5: Cut the door jambs.

Once the underlay has been laid, there is one more preliminary step to take: cutting the door jambs. To do this, lay a board so that its edge goes along the side of the jamb. Mark the plank and, using a handsaw, cut parallel to the floor, creating a cutout that allows the plank to fit snugly under the stud for a clean, professional look.

STEP 6: Install the first row.

The most important row in the entire flooring project is the first. It should be installed parallel to the longest wall, starting at one corner and working towards the other. Make sure this first row is straight, so subsequent rows will fit properly and look professional.

Position the first plank with the groove facing the wall and flush into one corner of the room. To allow for natural expansion and contraction, place 1/4 inch spacers between the board and the wall at 12 inch intervals. Install the rest of the first row, placing one plank at a time and matching the tongues to the grooves, tapping gently for a snug fit. When you get to the end of the row, use the pull bar to help press the last plank firmly into position.

how to install laminate flooring

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STEP 7: Install the rest of the flooring.

After the first row is complete, proceed one plank at a time, matching the tongues to the grooves. Use the floor cutter to cut the first and last piece of each row if necessary. Gently tap each plank securely into place with the hammer and tapping block. Be careful not to hammer too hard as it is possible to damage the surface of the laminate or the tongue.

For a durable and attractive installation, be sure to stagger the end joints of adjacent boards at least 6 inches. It also prevents the floor from separating and prevents narrow seams from deforming.

STEP 8: Install thresholds and baseboard moldings.

Installing the last board can be a bit of a pain. It may be necessary to cut the board, or at least the tongue, to ensure that it is properly aligned. Finish the job by installing thresholds wherever there is a door or wherever the laminate meets another flooring material. Finally, remove the spacers and reinstall the base molding. Now sit back and admire your work.

The benefits of laminate flooring

Laminate flooring is the DIY favorite. Because it’s light years better than a few decades ago in terms of quality and selection, there’s good reason to love it. Beyond these points, there are other important benefits of laminate flooring:

  • Laminate floors will last for years, but they are temporary. This makes them easy to swap out when tastes or styles change.
  • Apartment dwellers who are unable to undertake major renovations may appreciate a floating floor. When they move, these floors can be easily reassembled, which does not leave the owner the wiser.
  • Anyone who wonders how difficult it is to install laminate flooring should know that it is quite simple. Armed with a tape measure, a saw of almost any type, a tapping block, and a hammer, just about any do-it-yourselfer can tackle installing flooring. laminates.
  • In most cases, do-it-yourselfers can install laminate flooring over existing floors, which means they can get a whole new look without doing any heavy demolition.
  • High-quality laminate floors are scratch-resistant and very easy to clean. This makes it a much more attractive option than hardwood floors or carpets.
how to install laminate flooring

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Final Thoughts

With these laminate flooring installation steps, homeowners can give any space a new look without the long-term commitment to it. The techniques required to install laminate flooring are easy to learn and the project moves quickly once the first row is properly installed.

Laminate Installation FAQs

After reading this tutorial on how to install laminate flooring, you may still have some questions about the process. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about installing laminate floors.

Q. Where to start when installing laminate flooring?

As a general rule, it is best to start laminate installation with the first row along the longest wall. Lay the first board in the corner, maintaining a ¼ inch gap from the walls, then continue this row along the wall and out to the other corner.

Q. Do you need to put anything under a laminate floor?

Yes, laying laminate flooring requires a layer of underlay underneath. The underlay helps support the floor and creates a vapor barrier to prevent moisture from entering the laminate floor. Some laminate flooring products have a built-in underlay.

Q. Is it difficult to install laminate flooring?

It’s easy to learn how to lay laminate flooring, and this popular DIY upgrade has an outsized impact on the look of a room. Installing laminate flooring requires no nails or adhesives, and the planks are easy to install and adjust if needed. Just be sure to pull the seams tight and maintain a gap around the edge of the floor.

Q. Do you glue or nail laminate flooring?

Laminate flooring is best left floating over the existing subfloor or floor, but some products can be glued down. Beware that the adhesive will damage the existing floor underneath, so it’s best to avoid this method when installing laminate flooring in apartments or other spaces where the floor may need to be temporary.

Q. How long can you walk on laminate flooring?

After laying the laminate floors, you can walk on them right away. There’s no glue or other adhesives holding the floor together, so it’s ready to walk on as soon as the project is complete.

Q. What is the best tool to use for cutting laminate flooring?

A laminate floor cutter is the best product for cutting laminate floors. These devices easily cut through flooring and create clean, precise cuts. However, you can also use a handsaw, miter saw, or even a utility knife in some cases.

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