Laminate Flooring Installation
Installing laminate flooring is definitely one of the less intimidating projects for the handy homeowner, though it's not without it's own challenges. Trimming around obstacles like floor vents and door jambs takes some skill and practice, and any imperfections are often noticeable. As always, if peace of mind is something you value, our expert installers are more than up for the task.
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 our flooring pros. See our complete Buyers Guide to Laminate Flooring and out guide on Maintenance and Caring for your floor for more info on Laminate.
Tools and Supplies
Along with basic hand tools most DIY’ers 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 or acoustic underlayment, expansion spacers
Preparing the Existing Floor
You’ll need to remove existing laminate 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.
If the subfloor is concrete, the surface must be level. Patch chips and fill cracks in the concrete. Use a level to determine where it has settled and needs to be built up using self-leveling mix.
Before you begin to install laminate flooring, open 4 or 5 boxes of material 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. Continue with this strategy throughout the laminate installation.
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”. Moisture transfers through concrete quite readily, and moisture from the ground reaching your laminate will destroy it by causing warping, separation and mold.
Step 2: Start on the left side of the room from the most common entry point to the room. Complete the entire length of the left wall by joining the short ends of the planks. The gap created by the spacers is needed for expansion that comes with higher humidity, and the gap will be covered by the shoe molding once the floor is installed.
Step 3: 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 4: 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. Begin the second row at the same end of the room you started the first row. 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 5: For trimming around floor vents, make your measures and pre-cut the boards before installation.
Step 6: 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.