How to install laminate flooring

Posted on

Installing laminate flooring is a popular project for homeowners seeking a cost-effective, durable, and aesthetically pleasing flooring option. Laminate flooring is known for its versatility and ease of maintenance, making it suitable for various rooms in the home. Whether you are updating an old room or finishing a new one, understanding the correct installation process is crucial for achieving a professional and long-lasting finish. This guide will take you through a detailed step-by-step process of installing laminate flooring, from preparation to the finishing touches.

Preparation and Planning:

  1. Measure the Room:
    Start by accurately measuring the room where you will install the laminate flooring to determine how much material you will need. It’s advisable to purchase 10% more flooring than the area’s square footage to account for cuts and waste.

  2. Acclimate the Flooring:
    Laminate planks need to adjust to the humidity and temperature of the room where they will be installed. Leave the flooring in the room for at least 48 hours before installation. This prevents warping and buckling post-installation.

  3. Prepare the Subfloor:
    Ensure the subfloor is clean, dry, and level. Any high spots can be sanded down, and low spots filled with leveling compound. If you're installing over concrete, a moisture barrier is necessary. For wood subfloors, ensure that they are free of squeaks and repair any loose boards.

  4. Gather Tools and Materials:
    You will need several tools for installation, including a tape measure, utility knife, hammer, tapping block, pull bar, spacers, and a saw for cutting the planks to size. Additionally, depending on your subfloor, you may need underlayment or a vapor barrier.

  5. Plan the Layout:
    Plan how the planks will lay in relation to the main source of light and the largest wall. Planks should run parallel to the longest wall or, in some cases, toward the source of light. Avoid having too narrow planks at the walls, so if necessary, adjust the width of the first row to make the last row sufficiently wide.

Installation Process:

  1. Install the Underlayment:
    Roll out the underlayment in the same direction you will install the flooring. Use tape to secure the seams between the strips of underlayment, but do not overlap them.

  2. Start the First Row:
    Begin laying the planks in a corner of the room, with the groove side facing the wall. Use spacers between the planks and the wall to maintain a gap of about 1/4 inch for expansion. This gap will be covered by base molding after the floor is complete.

  3. Lay the Planks:
    Insert the tongue of one plank into the groove of the previous plank at an angle, then click them together. If necessary, gently tap the plank into place with a tapping block and hammer, ensuring not to damage the edges. Continue this process along the row, cutting the last plank to fit if necessary.

  4. Begin the Next Rows:
    Use the cutoff from the last plank of the first row to start the next row. This staggered layout will enhance the floor’s appearance and structural integrity. Ensure that the joints between planks in adjacent rows are staggered by at least 12 inches.

  5. Continue Installing:
    Repeat the process for each row, ensuring that all planks are securely connected and that there are no gaps or raised edges. As you proceed, you may need to cut planks to fit around door frames, vents, or other obstacles. Measure and mark the planks, cutting them to fit as necessary.

  6. Install the Last Row:
    The last row may need to be cut lengthwise to fit. Measure the gap, subtract the expansion gap clearance, and cut the planks to width. Use a pull bar to install these last pieces snugly against the previous row.

  7. Finishing Touches:
    Once all the planks are laid, remove the spacers. Install base molding or quarter round along the perimeter of the room to cover the expansion gaps. This not only completes the look but also holds the floor down. Install transition pieces where the laminate meets other types of flooring or exterior doors.

  8. Cleaning and Maintenance:
    After installation, you can clean the floor with a damp mop or cloth. Avoid using excessive water, and never use a steam mop as it can damage the laminate. For regular maintenance, sweep or vacuum regularly to remove dirt and grit that can scratch the floor.

Additional Tips:

  • Always check planks for defects before installation. Do not install damaged planks.
  • Consider the placement of planks with regard to color and pattern variation to ensure a harmonious look.
  • Be mindful of the manufacturer’s instructions regarding care and maintenance to avoid voiding warranties.

By following these detailed steps, you will be able to install laminate flooring that not only looks great but also performs well over time. Remember, taking your time to do the job right during each step of the process will help prevent issues and ensure your new floor is something you can be proud of for years to come.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!