Back when laminate floors first came on the market they were a novelty. Builders and homeowners weren’t sure whether they were worth a try or if they’d hold up.
Boy, has that mindset changed. The market for laminate flooring is booming with an abundance of realistic and stylish choices.
Do you have a room you’d like to give a fresh new look? Do you want to get rid of some old and outdated carpet? Add a laminate to your home for easy upkeep and a stylish new look.
You could even save some money by doing the installation yourself. Learn how to install laminate flooring by following these 8 steps.
Table of Contents
1. Prep the Room and SubFloor
The first step in the process is the prep the room and base floor. You will want to start by removing any flooring already there down to the subfloor.
You will also want to remove any quarter round trim boards. In most cases, the baseboards can stay in place.
Make sure there are not any nails sticking up. Check to be sure your floor is completely level. This will prevent any buckling of your new floor later on. You can fill in low spots by using vinyl floor patch and a trowel.
Also, check the seams on your subfloor to make sure they are smooth and even.
2. Moisture Barrier and Underlay
How to start laminate flooring installation is the first check there is no moisture coming up from the floor. If you are laying the laminate on concrete this is particularly important.
You can test this by adhering a section of plastic to the floor and sealing it with tape. Leave it for 24 hours to see if any moisture shows up under the sealed section.
Roll out and tape the rubber underlayment. Depending on your situation, sometimes this will be in two layers. First, a layer to address moisture. Then a second underlayment for cushion and traction for the flooring.
It is important that when you lay the underlayment you seal the seams with tape. Also, consider laying in the opposite direction your flooring will be installed.
3. Prepare Doorways and Door Jams
One of the trickiest parts of installing laminate flooring involves working around doors. For this reason, you want to prepare the area before you actually start putting the floor down.
You will need to trim up the door trim and door jam. Most of the time you snap two pieces of flooring together using the tongue and groove. However, at doors, you will need to slide the trimmed down piece of flooring under the door jam.
Consider this pro tip if you plan to install the same flooring in more than one room. The doorway is a good place to stop one room and start fresh in the next. You can connect the two rooms of flooring by using transition strips between the two rooms.
4. Calculate First and Last Row of Flooring
This step is important and requires some planning. But it is an important one so your flooring looks balanced once it is laid.
Get the exact width of your room. Subtract from that width 3/4″. This allows for the 3/8″ gap that will be on the edge of both sides of the room.
Take that measurement and divide by the width of the planks you are using. This will tell you how many full-sized planks you will be using in the installation. It will also tell you the width of a partial width.
The goal would be to divide that partial width of flooring between the wall you start on and the wall you finish on. However, you do not want to divide a plank if it is more than half of a width of its full size.
Once you have divided the partial piece, one piece will go on the starting wall and the other on the finishing wall.
5. Consider Where to Start
There are a few things to consider when deciding where to start laying the flooring.
One laminate flooring installation tip is to install the last row first. If you work all the way up to the last row and it is tight against a wall, it can be very tricky to install.
Another is to consider if either of your walls has doorways. Since installing around doorways is likely the most tricky part of the installation, starting there is better than trying to finish there.
6. Gather the Right Tools
Laying laminate flooring will go much more smoothly with some specialized tools.
You will be doing a lot of cutting on the planks. While any saw might work, it can be very messy. The best choice is laminate sheer. This tool looks very similar to a turbo paper cutter. It allows you to cut the laminate without all the dust and noise of other power tools.
Another important tool is the tapping block. This is used with a hammer to snap the laminate pieces together. The tapping block fits up against the piece being installed. Then the hammer is used to pound on the tapping block. The pushes the piece into place without also damaging the laminate section.
Finally, this is a job where you are going to be crawling around on the floor. Save your knees and yourself some pain by investing in a good pair of knee pads.
7. Install the Planks
Once you have done the prep work and the planning, laying laminate flooring goes pretty quickly. It is a matter of working your way across the room, one row at a time.
Some manufacturers directions suggest installing a piece at a time, for each row. If you are having trouble connecting the pieces while also fitting them together with the previous row, there is a pro trick. Some suggest connecting the whole row together first, then connecting it into the previous row all in one long piece.
8. Finish the Job with Trim
Once the floor is all down, you need to finish it with some trim work. Remember, when you started you had spacers in place. So reinstalling a trim board over your baseboard will cover those spaces. Most use a small quarter round piece of trim work.
If you installed up to doorways, you might also need to add in transition strips between two different rooms. This gives the new flooring a final finished polish.
How to Install Laminate Flooring Like a Pro
Consider getting rid of that outdated carpet or soft side flooring. Go with new and stylish laminate flooring. It is not only easy to maintain, but there are also so many options on the market.
By learning how to install laminate flooring, you get a new on-trend floor and save money too.
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