How To Install Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is the perfect choice for anyone looking to revamp their floors. Proper installation is key to ensuring your laminate flooring looks great and stands the test of time. 

We’ll go over each step of the process, from preparation to finishing touches. By the time you're done reading, you might just be a pro installer.

Key Summary

  • Allow the laminate flooring to acclimate to the room's climate for at least 48 hours before installation.
  • Specific tools, including hammers, rubber mallets, tape measures, and utility knives, are essential for various tasks during the installation process.
  • Laminate flooring varies in thickness (6-12 mm). Trim door frames to fit the flooring for smooth door operation.
  • Troubleshooting common issues like buckling, warping, and creaking floors involves addressing underlying causes and implementing preventive measures.
    In this article we'll cover:
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      how to install laminate flooring

      Preparation

      Step 1: Prep the Room

      Start by clearing the room of furniture, furnishings, and decor. This will give you ample space to work and maneuver.

      Step 2: Grab Everything You’ll Need

      Tools

      PencilMarks cutting lines and layout patterns on the flooring.trowel
      StraightedgeEnsures straight and accurate cuts.spacers
      Saw (circular, handsaw, miter, table, or jigsaw)Used for cutting laminate flooring to fit around obstacles.Wet saw
      Oscillating sawIt is ideal for making precise cuts in tight spaces.safety gears
      Utility knifeUsed for scoring and cutting laminate flooring.safety gears
      Chalk lineHelps mark straight lines on the subfloor for accurate installation.safety gears
      Duct tapeSecures underlayment and helps prevent shifting.safety gears
      Pull barAssists in closing gaps between planks.safety gears
      Tapping blockProtects the edges of the laminate planks.safety gears
      Eye protectionProtects eyes from dust and debris.safety gears
      Ear protectionProtects ears from loud noises produced by power tools.safety gears

      Materials

      Laminate flooringProvides the surface layer of the flooring system.Laminate flooring
      UnderlaymentActs as a cushioning layer between the subfloor and laminate flooring.Underlayment
      SpacersMaintain proper expansion gaps along walls and between planks.Spacers
      Quarter-round moldingCovers the expansion gap between the flooring and baseboards.Quarter-round molding
      Transition stripsProvides a smooth transition between different flooring surfaces.Transition strips
      CaulkSeals gaps and seams to prevent moisture penetration.Caulk
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      Step 3: Trim the Doorways

      The average thickness of laminate flooring varies between 6-12 mm, so measure the thickness of your laminate flooring and trim the bottom of the door frames accordingly to accommodate it. 

      This ensures that the doors can open and close properly without any obstruction.

      Subfloor Preparation

      Step 4: Prep the Subfloor

      Remove the old flooring and thoroughly inspect the subfloor for cleanliness, mold, and mildew. Ensure that the subfloor is level and suitable for laminate flooring installation.

      Sweep the subfloor to remove any dirt, debris, or stones that may affect the installation. Check for unevenness, cracks, or other issues that could impact the stability of your laminate flooring.

      Subfloor Preparation Techniques

      Here's how to address specific subfloor issues and prepare it effectively:

      Addressing Unevenness:

      • Leveling Compound: For minor unevenness, consider using a self-leveling compound to fill in low areas and create a smooth surface. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for mixing and applying the compound, ensuring it is spread evenly across the subfloor.
      • Shimming: Place shims, such as thin wooden wedges, under the subfloor to raise low spots to the same level as the rest of the floor.
      • Sanding: Use a belt or handheld sander to carefully sand down any uneven areas until the subfloor is level.

      Managing Moisture Content:

      • Moisture Barrier: A moisture barrier is essential to protect the laminate flooring in basements or bathrooms. Use a moisture-resistant paint or barrier on the subfloor before laying down the underlayment.
      • Addressing Moisture Issues: If the subfloor has high moisture levels, address the underlying cause, such as improving drainage or installing a dehumidifier. Allow the subfloor to dry completely before proceeding with the installation.
      • Testing Moisture Levels: Before installation, use a moisture meter to test the moisture content of the subfloor.

      Dealing with Subfloor Seams:

      • Filler Material: If the subfloor has visible seams or gaps, fill them with suitable filler material, such as wood filler or leveling compound. Ensure the filler material is applied evenly and allowed to dry completely before installing the laminate flooring.
      • Reinforcement: Consider reinforcing the seams with additional support, such as plywood strips or seam tape. This helps create a smoother and more stable surface for the laminate flooring.

      Practical Tips:

      • Underlayment Inspection: Inspect the underlayment material for any tears, wrinkles, or damage before laying it down on the subfloor. Replace any damaged underlayment to ensure proper support and moisture protection for the laminate flooring.
      • Acclimation: Allow the laminate flooring to acclimate to the room's climate for at least 48 hours before installation. This helps prevent issues such as expansion or contraction of the flooring after installation.

      Installation Process

      Step 5: Install the First Row of Flooring

      Install the First Row of Flooring

      Starting in the top left corner of the room, begin laying the first row of laminate flooring parallel to the longest wall.

      Use spacers to maintain an even gap between the flooring and the wall, allowing for expansion.

      As you work, gently tap the planks into place using a rubber mallet, ensuring a snug fit.

      Step 6: Use a Mallet and Spacers

      As you continue laying the laminate flooring, periodically check for gaps and adjust the planks accordingly.

      Use a rubber mallet to gently tap the planks into place, ensuring they are snugly fit together.

      Place spacers every 10-20 cm along the wall to allow for expansion and contraction.

      Cutting and Fitting

      Step 7: Cutting the Planks

      You'll need to cut the laminate planks to fit when you encounter obstacles such as pillars or doorways.

      Measure the space carefully and use a good quality laminate floor cutter to make clean, precise cuts.

      Avoid forcing the planks into place, as this can cause damage and compromise the integrity of the flooring.

      Cutting TechniqueDescription
      Using Laminate Shears
      • Laminate shears are efficient tools for cutting laminate flooring, producing minimal dust and noise.
      • Simply place the plank into the shear and squeeze for a clean cut.
      Cutting Around Obstacles
      • Measure the dimensions of obstacles like door frames or vents, mark the plank accordingly, and use a saw to make precise cuts.
      • Take care to avoid overcutting and damaging adjacent planks.
      Achieving Precise Cuts
      • Measure twice and cut once to ensure accuracy.
      • Use sharp saw blades and support long planks to prevent uneven cuts.
      • Consider using miter saws or table saws for long, straight cuts.
      Minimizing Dust and Noise
      • Work in well-ventilated areas and use tools with dust collection systems.
      • Wear protective gear like dust masks and eye protection.
      • Opt for quieter tools and use ear protection to reduce noise.

      Step 8: Install the Last Row

      As you near the end of the installation, you may need to trim the last row of laminate planks to fit.

      Avoid forcing the last row into place, as this can cause damage to the planks and result in an uneven finish.

      Troubleshooting and Common Issues

      Buckling or Warping

      Buckling or warping occurs when laminate flooring becomes uneven or lifted from the subfloor. This issue is often caused by moisture infiltration or improper installation techniques. 

      Here's how to address and prevent buckling or warping:

      • Use underlayment with moisture-blocking properties to protect against moisture infiltration.
      • Avoid overexposure to water or spills by promptly wiping up any liquid from the surface of the flooring.
      • Properly secure laminate flooring during installation to prevent shifting and movement.

      Creaking Floors

      Creaking or squeaking sounds can occur when laminate flooring planks rub against each other or the subfloor. Loosely installed flooring components often cause this issue.

      • Here's how to address and prevent creaking floors:
        Check for loose or damaged planks and secure them again using a tapping block and rubber mallet.
      • Ensure proper expansion gap maintenance to prevent friction between planks.
      • Apply a lubricant such as powdered graphite or talcum powder between the joints to reduce friction and eliminate creaking sounds.
      • Reinforce subflooring and underlayment to provide additional support and stability.

      Additional Tips

      • Use a scrap piece of flooring to hammer the boards into place, avoiding direct hammering on the laminate to prevent breakage.
      • Start each row with a different-sized plank to create a staggered look, enhancing the overall aesthetic of your flooring.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Can a beginner install laminate flooring?

      With simple tools, patience, and careful attention to instructions, even beginners can successfully install laminate flooring. The planks or tiles often have an easy interlocking design, making the process user-friendly.

      Does laminate flooring need to be glued down?

      Some laminate options require adhesive for installation. For the most accurate instructions, always refer to the manufacturer's guidelines specific to your chosen laminate flooring.

      Conclusion

      Following the steps outlined in this guide should help you achieve the look you’re going for. Using the right tools and materials and avoiding common mistakes will help you become a pro in installing laminate flooring quickly.

      Roll up your sleeves, grab your tools, and let's get started. If the thought of installing laminate floors scares you, contact us to help you get all the materials you need and take care of all your installation needs.

      Charlie