Laminate Flooring Installation Guide

Laminate Flooring Installation Guide

Laminate Flooring Installation

Installing laminate flooring can be an easy project for the handy homeowner, and its just one of the factors that makes it a popular flooring product. This laminate floor installation guide explains the process and will help you decide whether you want to do it yourself or leave the installation to home flooring pros.

Many DIY enthusiasts choose laminate because it is very easy to install. Most of the products simply snap together. There is no gluing or nailing of the planks. Trimming around obstacles like floor vents and door jambs takes some skill and practice, but a good online tutorial will give you the confidence you can do it. See our other laminate flooring guides for more detailed information about  maintenance and laminate floor prices .

Tools and Supplies the Pros Use

Along with basic hand tools most DIYers have, here’s a checklist of the various tools needed for installation:

  • Power Tools. Circular saw or table saw, compound miter saw, jigsaw.
  • Installation Tools. Hammer, Tapping bar, pull bar, heavy roller.
  • Supplies. Foam underlayment, expansion spacers

Preparing the Existing Floor

You’ll need to remove existing flooring, baseboard, shoe molding, floor heating registers, and anything else fastened to the floor. The old flooring must be removed including tack strips and padding staples. A flat shovel is a good tool for removing staples, glue and other debris. If the subflooring is in good condition, check for ridges and sand them down. If it is in poor condition, you may have to pull it up and replace it.

Installation Techniques

The first thing to do is to allow the laminate to acclimate to the temperature and humidity conditions of the room. Lay the unopened boxes horizontally on the floor for 48-72 hours before you being installation. This is to avoid the material from expanding or contracting after it’s installed, problems which could lead to it coming apart or buckling.  Now, here’s a guide to laminate flooring installation.

Finally, as you are starting, open 4 or 5 boxes of wood and mix up the planks from them. This will blend the shading to give a more natural and random appearance. When you’ve reduced your open stock by half, mix in another couple of boxes.

Step 1: Install a moisture barrier if installing the floor over plain concrete or tiles covering concrete. It should run wall to wall with sections overlapping 8”.

Step 2: If you are installing laminate with a ceramic tile or slate design, you’ll want the room to balance side to side. Therefore, measure the room in both directions. For width, divide the width of the room by the width of the planks you’re using. For example, if the room is 20’ 6” across, that’s 246 inches. If the planks you are installing are 10” width, you will install 24 full planks with 6” left over. Subtract one inch for ½” expansion spacers along each wall, leaving 5” of flooring still needed.

Laminate Flooring Installation Guide

Rather than have a 5” board on one side of the room and a full board on the other, it will look better to have a 2 ½” board on either side of the room. Therefore, plan the row of planks along each side wall to be 2 ½” wide. This step does not apply to laminate finishes simulating wood. When cutting planks from the first and last rows, leave room for the expansion spacers you can get from the laminate flooring dealer.

Step 3: Start on the left side of the room. Complete the step above or trim the tongue from each plank that will be installed against the wall. Complete the entire length of the left wall by joining the short ends of the planks. Remember to use expansion spacers where needed.

Step 4: As you approach the end of the first row, measure the length the last piece needs to be and trim the piece to fit before installing it.

Step 5: For the start of the second row, cut a piece the same length as the last piece of the first row in order to stagger the end butts. For subsequent rows, choose varying lengths for the first piece in order to achieve a more random look. Connect each piece with the one next to it by placing the tongue in the groove and pushing them together. Use the tapping bar to secure a tight fit.

Step 6: For trimming around floor vents, make your measures and pre-cut the boards before installation. A jigsaw is a helpful for making cuts to go around all types of obstacles.

Step 7: Continue with this technique until all rows have been installed.  Use a pull bar to pull the pieces in the last row into the second to last piece for tight, secure connection. The pull bar is a handy tool whenever you can’t use the tapping bar.

Finishing the Job

Once all the flooring is down, make sure that all the joints are secure. Then, reinstall the baseboard molding and other trim pieces.

Laminate Flooring Installation FAQs

Q: How long does it take to install laminate flooring?

A: Home flooring pros can do up to 1,000 square feet per day. If you’re doing it yourself for the first time, it won’t go as fast. But you’ll soon get the hang of it.

Q: Does the floor feel different to walk on since it’s not nailed down?


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