If you’re remodeling a new home or ripping up old carpet, you can learn how to install laminate flooring without calling a builder. Laminate flooring is popular due to its many styles and colors that give spaces an instant lift. Plus, laminate flooring is an affordable alternative to solid hardwood flooring without tricky installation.
Unlike hardwood flooring, plastic laminates do not need to be nailed down to the floor or underlayment. They are durable, scratch resistant and easy to maintain. However, if you have wooden floors, you should know how to clean hardwood floors without damaging them.
Additionally, laminate flooring does not require grout, cement, or adhesives to secure the planks together. Instead, laminate flooring clicks and locks into place (if installed correctly), much like a giant jigsaw puzzle.
Although learning how to install laminate flooring may seem difficult, it’s actually not that difficult to do it yourself. The best part is that you don’t even have to hire a professional to do the job, which saves you extra money! So here are some DIY tips on how to install laminate flooring without calling a builder.
How to install laminate flooring
What you will need
Floor underlayment or vapor barrier
What to cut the parquet
The first step is to prep your area, making sure your subfloor is free of dirt and debris, is level, and structurally sound. Most importantly, always measure the space correctly before buying laminate flooring. It is advisable to purchase an additional box of flooring to account for any errors in cutting or damaged planks. Even if you don’t use it, it’s always good to have spares.
1. Prepare the room
After preparing your space, test some laminate planks by laying them side by side in the room to see what they will look like when laid out. Decide on the direction and pattern of the flooring and be sure to allow room for the flooring to expand approximately ¾ inch. Be careful not to block the joints between them at this stage so as not to damage the boards.
TIP: It is always important to read the instructions provided by the flooring manufacturer.
2. Install underlayment or vapor barrier
Following, unroll underlay sheets and tuck edges together so they touch but do not overlap. Tape the seams together recommended on the instructions or invest in an underlay with peel and stick adhesive edges. Then, cut the underlay to fit against the walls and blockages with a utility knife. The underlay is a thin, dense foam designed to help absorb sound and make your floors warmer. You should always lay down this protective thermal barrier before installing laminate flooring to make it a flat surface against bumps or gaps in the floor.
TIP: If you’re installing laminate flooring in rooms with high humidity like kitchens or basements, it’s a good idea to install a vapor barrier like this 3-in-1 Vapor Barrier Flooring Underlay ( $18, Amazon) before placing your underlay.
3. Place the spacers along the wall
Then, place 3/8 inch spacers along the wall to provide a consistent gap around the edges of the floor to allow for soil expansion. One thing to note is that laminate flooring will always expand and contract due to changes in temperature and humidity.
4. Start laying the flooring
A general rule is to start applying the flooring against the longest wall. But if, for example, there is a feature fireplace or large windows, you might want to start laying the boards parallel to that wall. Starts with place the planks with the tongue side facing the wall. Then, place the second plank next to the first, aligning the tongue in the groove and press the board into place. Continue placing the boards until the end of the first row and cut the last piece to fit perfectly in space.
TIP: Stagger your rows one board width apart from each other to give it a more attractive design. Not only does this look better, but it also gives the floor more stability, preventing problems such as warping or the formation of stratified spaces.
5. Install remaining laminate flooring
For the second line and the following ones, place a plank longer or shorter than the first plank in the first row. For subsequent rows, you may need to wiggle the boards to secure them in the groove before you put them in place. It is recommended use a punching block or pull-up bar to make sure there are no gaps between the seams. Continue installing planks until the row is complete, trimming to size the last plank.
6. Add the final touch
Once you have installed the laminate flooring, remove the spacers against the walls. You can now install matching baseboards, quarter rounds or the finishing molding of your choice.
TIP: Using a caulking tool, caulk the edges of the baseboard to achieve a smooth and neat appearance.
How to cut laminate flooring
You can use a variety of tools to cut laminate flooring to length. If you’re not comfortable using power tools, a simple handsaw will do.
If you want to use a power tool, a jigsaw can be very handy; not only is it faster than using a handsaw, but you can use it to cut irregular shapes, in case you need the flooring to fit around the trim pieces. Additionally, puzzles are relatively inexpensive; this Black & Decker puzzle, for example, is just $24 on Amazon.
If the majority of your cuts will be straight, a miter saw or circular saw will allow you to quickly cut through the flooring. However, these tend to be more expensive and require some experience to use.
Whichever tool you choose, be sure to cut straight lines; a speed square can help you immensely. You can pick up this Workpro speed square and combo square set for $22 on Amazon.