Laminate flooring is a great choice for homeowners who want to replicate hardwood flooring but in a less expensive way. It’s a great way to replicate the look of hardwood or tile flooring. If you get the hang of it, it’s also not too difficult to figure out how to install laminate flooring. So, let’s go through the process of installing laminate flooring!
How to Install Laminate Flooring
How to install laminate flooring can be an easy process, but if you have already done it once, you know why everyone pays an interior painting company to do it. Laminate flooring is a dry installation. This means that there are no adhesives or mortar. Also, laminate flooring snaps together and lies in place. It is kinda like a large puzzle and should take roughly an entire day for any room you install it in.
- • Utility knife
- • Hammer
- • Tapping block or pull bar
- • Rubber mallet (optional)
- • Tape measure
- • Straightedge
- • Speed square
- • Pencil
- • Circular saw, Jigsaw or handsaw
- • Table saw (optional)
- • Chalk box
Materials Needed For Laminate Flooring:
- • Laminate flooring
- • Underlayment and tape
- • Scrap wood spacers
How to Install Laminate Flooring
• Before you begin to install, remove all baseboards and trims around the perimeter of the room. Also, remove any heating resistors or duct covers placed on the floor. Then, sweep or vacuum the entire floor, to get rid of all the dust. Now, in order to have a smooth installation, the old flooring surface has to be smooth and clean.
• Laminate flooring can be successfully applied on top of old floor coverings (like sheet vinyl), but only if the surface is smooth and flat (should not be soft). A good base for laminate planks is foam sheeting. If the floor is damaged in any way or is uneven, you need to remove it and instead, lay down a rigid underlayment of thin plywood. You should do this before laying the foam sheets and laminate flooring.
The floor layout is very important. You should test to see if the laminate planks fit in the room. If your room is medium-sized, it is easiest to use the flooring rather than measuring or calculating the planks.
Now, arrange the planks together across the room. Lock the side joints together or butt the planks against one another. Be cautious though to not walk on the flooring if the joints are not properly locked together.
Next, arrange planks end-to-end, but without locking the planks together. This way, you would create a lock that is difficult to unlock and you could possibly damage the edges. Once you can identify your floor layout, pull the planks up, and stack them in another area close to you.
An interior painting company may suggest putting down an underlayment before laying the actual laminate. Underlayment (a thin foam layer) will help absorb sound and is a thermal barrier that will make walking on the laminate easy. Also, it helps the flooring bridge minor gaps in the underlying floor. Some types of underlayment serve the purpose to be a moisture barrier.
However, you can install thick plastic sheeting and close the gaps with tape to provide a moisture barrier (vapor barrier). This vapor barrier would go below the underlayment. The underlayment should not be overlapping, instead, roll out the sheets and butt the edges together. Tighten the seams with tape.
For some underlayments, you can peel-and-stick the edges to join the pieces. Lastly for this section, trim the underlayment so that it fits against the walls with a utility knife.
Begin Installing the First Row of Planks
• You can begin to install the first row of planks. Trim off the tongues (no grooves) from the boards. They will edge the first wall. You can do this part with a utility knife or a table saw if you have that. Start off laying the first row on the longest wall and the trimmed edges of the planks against the wall.
• Work the right side then the left. Lay down the full-size plank against the wall .
• Space it about 1/4 to 3/8 inch (or what the manufacturer as indicated) away from the wall. Ensure that the groove edge faces out. Then, place spacers of scrap wood between the flooring and the wall to maintain the gap. Measure the line at different points along the wall the planks will begin on. Walls are not always straight, so adjust the row in (towards the wall) or out (away from it).
• Be cautious to maintain the recommended gap and also check that the re-installed base will cover the gap. It is vital that the groove edge on the first row is laid down on a straight line. Then, with extra full-length planks, work toward the left to the end of the room. Lock each piece to its neighbor by using a hammer and tapping block to snug up the joints.
• The end joints should always be tight, with no noticeable gaps. If you are struggling to tighten the joints, you could use a rubber mallet to close the end joints.
Complete the First Row
• Once you are at the left end of the first row, the last plank typically is a little too long. So, you should measure the length needed and transfer that measurement to a full-size plank (measure from right to left).
• This way, the tongue-end of the plank is preserved to attach to the last full plank. Now, cut the plank to length with a jigsaw or circular saw. Keep the cut-off end; this will form the first plank in the second row and begin back at the right side of the room. Fit the final piece into the first row of flooring and secure the tongue-and-groove end joint, just like before. A pull bar is handy at the end of the row.
Complete the Next Rows of Laminate Flooring
• Moving from right to left, the last piece from every row will always be cut off, with that piece from the left shifting down to begin the next row on the right. The rows of laminate planks should have a staggered appearance, so that the seams never line up in adjacent rows.
• This would be unsightly, but it would compromise the structural stability of the floor. A great tip is to keep cut pieces no less than 16 inches long, but with a good stable, the cut lengths can go as short as 1-foot. If by chance the first row leaves you with a short cut piece on the left end, you can reconfigure the row so that it begins with a partial board on the right end.
• This will ensure that the cut plank on the left is an acceptable length.
Lay Out Additional Rows
Now you can install the planks for the second and subsequent rows, using a similar, but a little bit different method than you used for the first row. For these next rows, hold each piece at a 45-degree angle and insert the long tongue edge into the groove of the planks in the preceding row.
Then, lower the piece flat to the floor to lock the joint. Lastly, tap the piece into its neighbour in the same row with the hammer and tapping block (on all, but first piece in each row).
Installing the Last Row of Laminate Flooring
Unless you are very lucky, you will need to rip your last row of planks to finish the room’s flooring installation. Mark the planks in the last row for ripping, making sure to allow the 1/4-inch expansion gap between the flooring and the wall.
Then, rip the final row of planks using a circular saw. Install the last row of ripped planks, using the same tongue-and-groove fitting technique. Since you are working tight against the wall, this might be a tricky process. However, even in tight spaces such as beneath a cabinet overhang, you should still have just enough room to angle the board up to get it into a locking position.
Complete the installation of laminate flooring by removing all the spacers, then installing baseboard molding along the room’s perimeter. The gaps along the walls should be hidden by the molding.
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