How to Install Laminate Flooring (Complete Guide)
We have been building up to writing this guide on how to install laminate flooring for some time. Almost all our previous articles on the subject are referenced (and linked to) on this page at some point, please use them. We have additionally provided video reference links (not our own videos) to help you even further.
Installing floating laminate flooring is not difficult, but you will come across issues along the way. While I have tried to be as thorough as possible in the creation of this guide it is likely that you will encounter something not covered. Remember Google is your friend, but so is common sense.
Every house is different, and every house’s laminate flooring project will require good planning no matter what your previous experience. Take the time to plan well and the job should go smoothly.
Let’s learn how to install a laminated floor!
Planning Your Installation
Before you start any project there should be a period of planning. While this section is dedicated to "planning" I would suggest reading the whole guide before actually beginning your installation - you can then come back for reference when it is required.
Understanding Floating Floors
We will not be attaching the flooring to the subfloor in any way.
Are You Installing Over Underfloor Heating?
Is your underfloor heating compatible with a laminate installation? The thickness of the laminate chosen, and what underlay to use? As well as specifics on the installation process.
We have covered these questions and how best to answer them in our article on installing laminate over underfloor heating.
Working Out How Much Laminate You Need
We discussed taking measurements in great detail in our post – how to calculate the square footage of a room. This article will walk you through how to do this accurately. Be sure to also account for wastage (of around 10%) as also discussed in the article.
Choosing The Right Laminate
As well as design you should also consider what abrasion class you will require. This basically means the durability of the laminate. This is measured by AC rating. You can read more about this here.
Choosing The Right Underlayment
Also discussed in the article is when to use a vapor barrier. A damp proof membrane (vapor barrier) should be used on all cement subfloors, and should also be considered anywhere where moisture could be an issue. This will help you avoid potential bubbling due to excess moisture.
Deciding if Your Going to Use Beading
If you are going to require a vapor barrier (damp proof membrane) you should be removing your skirting boards to install this.
In my personal opinion, and where possible, I would choose to remove my skirting boards and have them fully cover my expansion gap – though with thin skirting boards this may not always be possible.
If you are fitting a vapor barrier as discussed in our underlay section then you will require vapor tape – if you are not then this tape will not be required.
Ordering Your Laminate, Underlay, and Accessories
Top Tip: Where possible order samples before ordering in bulk, quality of materials can vary hugely so it is best to know what you are ordering. Also, if possible collect your flooring and other materials – this can save you money on delivery.
Acclimating Your Laminate Flooring
In our article How to Acclimate Laminate Flooring! we discuss why we need to do this, exactly how to do this, and what can potentially happen if it is not done properly. This can make or break your entire project – so pay attention.
We have created the ideal list of tools below, and have rated them in terms of necessity. In an ideal world every tool below will be available to you, however we understand that this could come at a great cost. An example might be using a handsaw instead of a mitre saw (medium Priority). The cost of tools can be excessive, especially if you plan to only laminate a single room - It is often useful to weigh up your potential tool costs against the cost of having a professional complete the job for you.
|▲||High Priority – Tools you will definitely need||▷||Medium Priority – You will need a tool that can complete the same tasks||▼||Low Priority – Helpful to have but not really required|
|Safety Gear||Priority||Description||Purchase Link|
|Safety Goggles||▲||Goggles provide impact, dust, and chemical splash protection.||Amazon Link|
|Protective Gloves||▲||DIY Gloves are a must for protecting yourself while working||Amazon Link|
|Knee Pads||▼||Reduce the impact felt by the knees, protecting the knee caps and providing more comfortable kneeling.||Amazon Link|
Tools for Removing Skirting Boards
|Basic Tools||Priority||Description||Purchase Link|
|Claw Hammer||▲||A claw hammer will come in useful when trying to pry the skirting boards loose.||Amazon Link|
|Retractable Knife||▲||This will help you remove the sealant that is likely holding your skirting boards to the drywall.||Amazon Link|
|Crowbar (Pry Bar)||▷||To remove skirting boards around the room||Amazon Link|
|Cutting Tools||Priority||Description||Purchase Link|
|Pencil||▲||For marking your cuts and taking notes||Surely|
|Tape Measure||▲||For measuring your laminate planks.||Amazon Link|
|Carpenters Square||▲||This will ensure that all your straight cuts are indeed straight.||Amazon Link|
|Mitre Saw||▷||For cutting the planks to length. Could use a handsaw or jigsaw.||Amazon Link|
|Jigsaw||▷||For cutting the boards to length and cutting around shapes||Amazon Link|
|Oscillator Tool||▷||This tool will help you cut your door jambs. You can use a pull saw (Amazon Link).||Amazon Link|
|Work Bench||▷||A sturdy bench makes cutting a lot easier.||Amazon Link|
Tools for Installing The Laminate
|Laminate Tools||Priority||Description||Purchase Link|
|Laminate–Spacers||▲||For ensuring an adequate expansion gap remains around the edge of the room.||Amazon Link|
|Rubber Mallet||▲||To help click the flooring into place.||Amazon Link|
|Tapping Block||▲||To help tap the laminate planks into place (check the installation guide of your laminate)||Amazon Link|
|Pull Bar||▲||To help pull the laminate planks into place (check the installation guide of your laminate)||Amazon Link|
Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases through links marked "Amazon Link".
Preparing Your Subfloor
Your subfloor should not be an afterthought. It is arguably one of the most important factors in a successful laminate installation. It needs to be clean, free of debris, in good condition, and most importantly completely level. Let's look at how to prepare your subfloor for your new laminate flooring.
Removing Skirting Boards
In our article How to Remove Skirting Boards we discuss just how to remove your skirting boards without causing excessive damage to your plasterboard to a minimum. If you have decided not to use beading you will need to follow this step.
Removing Your Current Flooring
However, if you are installing your new laminate flooring over tile there are circumstances that you can lay the new flooring without removing the tile.
There are also certain instances where installing laminate over vinyl flooring will cause no significant issues.
Making Sure Your Subfloor Is Level
If you discover that your subfloor is uneven you will need to fix this before proceeding any further with the installation. Please read our article – Fixing an uneven floor for laying laminate.
Installing The Underlayment
Installing underlayment is not optional, and you should do this to the best of your ability. While the underlay itself will not be seen, it will effect the overall finish, soundproofing and insulation of your room. We have covered the installation of two popular types of underlayment, however if you have opted for something slightly different the following steps should also prove useful. Follow A - Fibreboard Follow B - Foil Underlay
Fireboard has become exceptionally popular throughout Europe as the underlay of choice, admittedly less so in the US. Fibreboard or foamboard (an alternative) is easy to install and offers good insulation and soundproofing.
Acclimate The Fibreboard
Simply place the fibreboard in the middle of the room for the allotted time. There is not much more to it. This can be done either in or out of the packaging.
Lay The Damproof Membrane
If you do not need a damp-proof membrane continue to step 13A.
Lay The First Row
Start in the corner of the room, leaving a 10mm gap between the walls and the board, and lay the boards across the whole room. Leave an additional 2mm between each sheet as an expansion gap.
Cut the final board to fit and use the rest of the board to start the second row. This will ensure the fibreboard sheets are staggered.
Cover The Whole Floor
Continue the Fibreboard installation until your whole floor has been covered. Cut the fibreboard to size when required using a retractable knife.
Remember to leave a 2mm gap between the boards and 10mm around the edges of the room. Now continue to step 15.
Foil underlay is one of the most popular underlayments. This underlay is normally made up of both a damp proof membrane and a soft rubber like material. This underlay will be fitted foil-side down. If you have a seperate damp proof membrane and underlay you will be required to fit these seperately.
Roll Out Foil-Side Down
Once you are happy with the positioning you can cut the sheet with scissors or a retractable knife. You can then move on to the second row.
The Second Row
But the edges of the foam from your second row as close as possible to the foam of the first row – making sure the foam DOES NOT overlap.
The second row should now be on top of the first-row overlap foil, and the foam butted against that of the first section (but not overlapping the foam).
Cover The Whole Floor
You will likely need to precisely cut the underlay around areas that are not perfectly square, or where there are other obstructions. The final row will also need to be cut to fit.
Tape The Seams
It is good practice to tape all the seams (with vapor tape) whether your brand has provided a tape strip or not – this will provide extra protection against potential damp problems in the future. Now continue to step 15.
Installing The Laminate
You are finally at the stage when you can begin installing your laminate flooring. We have added the steps you should take to ensure your laminate has been installed to the best of your ability. You will have to circumnavigate areas of the room that are not square, or where unusual cuts are rquired.
Test Your Layout
It is best not to lock the planks together as unlocking them can cause damage to the flooring.
Begin The First Row
Begin placing the boards against the longest wall, starting from the left and working your way right, making sure to place spacers along the wall to maintain the expansion gap. The groove edge should be facing out into the room.
Finish The First Row
When cutting the final board, measure it and cut it with a circular saw or jigsaw. Remember to maintain the expansion gap. You may need to use the pull-bar to fit the board correctly.
Plan The Next Rows
Pay specific attention to the staggering pattern, and ensure it conforms to best practices as discussed in our article – How to stagger laminate flooring.
Lay More Rows
To do this you will hold the piece of flooring at a 45-degree angle and maneuver the tongue edge into the groove of the preceding row, then lower the flooring flat (to activate the lock mechanism).
Finally, tap the board into the plank beside it (on the same row) with a mallet and tapping block (or using the pull-bar if required).
Install The Last Row
Cut these planks with a circular saw or jigsaw and as before, lock the planks to the previous row and position. Remember to leave your expansion gap.
This row can prove difficult, but once completed you can reattach your skirting boards, stand back and admire your completed installation.
In this section we will look at some of the more troublesome areas specifically. Hopefully your problem is covered.
Laminate Around Doorways
ⓘ Installing laminate around door jambs can be a difficult job if you don’t know what you are doing.
When attempting this I highly recommend reading our post How to install laminate flooring around doorways? and watching the accompanying video.
You will want to make sure you have an oscillating tool (or at the very least a pull-saw.
Once you have learned to install laminate flooring and have completed your project you will want to maintain it to the best of your ability. No need to put yourself through that all again :)
ⓘ Ongoing maintenance – Never ever attempt to wax your laminate flooring.
Only use laminate cleaners that do not contain any wax alongside a microfibre mop – or hard floor cleaner that does not use excessive water.
I personally prefer a simple mixture of 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup hot water, and a drop of lemon juice or some essential oils (optional) to give my laminate flooring that sparkling new look.
You have now learned virtually everything there is to know about how to install laminate flooring. You will get better at it the more you do it, but it is certainly not beyond your or anyone else’s abilities.
I hope this guide was clear and concise, writing it was difficult at times – but hopefully, you have a much better idea of how to install laminate than when you arrived on this website.
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I will be updating this article with more information as it occurs to me.