How to Install Laminate Flooring Easily
Welcome to our how-to guide for installing laminate flooring with ease! This guide will give you just the skinny on installing laminate and links to product care. So let's get started with the tools and materials you need!
Tools & Materials
The tools you will need for this project are punches, nail setters, panel saws, carpenter squares, clamps, knives, and claw hammers. The materials you will need for this project are underlayment, caulk, sealants, floor patching, floor installation kits, laminate sealer, and duct tape.
The first step is to get the sub-floor prepared. Laminate flooring is ready to install afterward when the base floor is clean and smooth.
- After getting rid of the existing baseboards, flooring, and molding, make sure the subfloor is rooted, smooth, and tidy. Use a patching compound to fix the concrete subfloors, and for wood subfloors, remove protruding nails and replace any damaged boards.
- If you install in a room like a basement, with high humidity or moisture, lay down a moisture barrier before installing the flooring. This is a precaution for all that is "below grade."
- Lay down the unopened cartons of laminate planks in the room. Laying the laminate down will allow it to acclimate to the room's temperature and humidity. All should adjust after 48 hours.
- For uneven floors, use a foam underlayment as laminate plank bases. If you need to equalize the floor, you can sand the floor and apply a patching compound.
- Some underlayments come with an added moisture barrier, reducing the need to lay down two different products. This barrier will inhibit condensation from leaking into the flooring's fiberboard, which could cause it to warp.
Tip: Wear the necessary safety apparel to protect yourself from harm!
Door Jambs Preparation
It's more manageable to remove the trim around doorways than form the flooring to match the molding's irregular shape. Once cut, the flooring will slip under the edge, leaving a more polished appearance.
- If need be, take a flooring plank and a segment of the underlayment and place finished side down next to the door's molding. This step will reveal how high up you need to cut the molding.
- Sketch a guideline along the surface of the molding with a pencil.
- Use a jamb saw to cut.
First and Last Row's Plan
- Install the flooring parallel to the lengthiest wall or focal point in the room.
- Measure the room's width from this wall and divide the distance by the width of the planks. This step will help with finding out the width of the final row of your laminate planks. Prepare for a 3/8-inch gap along both walls to allow for expansion of the flooring. If the last row happens to be less than 3 1/2 inches in width, distribute the width between the first and last rows.
- To determine the width needed for the first and last row, add the full plank's width to the previous row's width. Then, divide that number by two and cut each plank in the first and last row to that width.
Tip: Allow for the 3/8-inch gaps along both walls.
First and Last Row's Cut and Fitment
Before cutting the planks, check the instructions for your specific flooring product.
- If you are learning how to cut laminate flooring, understand that you don't need a particular saw. You can cut with a table saw, miter saw, circular saw, hand saw, or laminate cutter; however, a diamond blade is best to cut with as laminate can be dense and may damage another type of blade edge.
- Generally, it would help if you cut with the finished side upward. Use tape to mark the plank more efficiently and decrease potential splintering.
Tip: Use a blade intended for finishing to get the cleanest cut. However, the molding will cover all the rough cut edges when the project is completed. Use clamps to hold the planks steady while cutting.
- If your laminate didn't come with an underlayment attached, roll out two rows of the underlayment and cut it to fit perfectly with a utility knife.
- The underlayment should join but not overlay, as overlays in the underlayment result in humps under the flooring. Taping the seam will keep the underlayment in place and help maintain the much-needed vapor barrier.
First Row Installation
- All laminate flooring will contract and expand due to temperature and humidity changes. To allow for this expansion and contraction, place 3/8-inch spacers throughout the wall to leave a uniform gap around the ground's corners.
- If the door to the room is on one of the shorter walls, lay the laminate planks on the side of the room with a door. This will make sure you have the tidy, uncut corner at the threshold.
- Start the first row of flooring by setting the planks with the tongue side towards the wall. Install the second plank next to the initial one by aligning the tongue into the grooved section and press the plank down and in to snap it in place.
- When you to the end of the initial row, cut the length of plank, you need to finish the row. When you measure, allow for a 3/8-inch gap at each end.
Remaining Rows Installation
- Use the leftovers of the laminate planks you cut at the end of the initial row to start the following row, as long as it's greater than 1 foot. If it's not, begin the row with a plank cut to a length larger than 1 foot.
- Start the following row where you started the original. Doing this will stagger the seams, which results in a more natural appearance. It also gives the flooring added durability. It would be best to stagger the seams at least 12 inches from any adjacent seam to the previous one.
- Hold the longer side of the second-row plank at an angle and feed the tongue into the grooved section of the installed row. Press down and snap the plank into place.
- Because the fiber in laminate flooring is prone to water damage, make sure there is no space between the seams. Some laminate products need you to use a tapping block to close these spaces.
- Continue clicking planks into place until the row is finished, cutting the last plank to size.
- Lay each row starting with the remaining pieces longer than one foot from the row before the room is done.
- If you happen to have a separate underlayment, install additional rows, one at a time as necessitated.
- When the laminate planks have been installed, remove the spacers.
- Install a matching threshold with the baseboard and quarter-round molding to the walls using finishing nails.
Congratulations! You have finished installing the laminate floor!