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How to Install Laminate Flooring

installing laminate floors

How to Install Laminate Flooring

Many people want to install laminate flooring and do not want to use a professional for the installation. If that is you here are some basic guides that can help you achieve success. However, having a professional installer do it is always recommended ( we would say that we have been installing laminate for years) as laying laminate flooring takes a bit of skill and practice.

The first thing to remember is that you have to have patience if you’ve never done this before.  Patience with yourself, your helpers and the floor. Think of the patience required to teach your kids to drive 🙂 This is something that not everyone has the time for, but with a little research, laying laminate flooring can be done by somebody with reasonable good DIY skills.  

Installing laminate floors certainly got easier when the click systems came alone. So If you have a few handyman skills under your belt, this shouldn’t be much of a problem. However, if you cannot hang a picture on a  wall without help, you probably shouldn’t attempt laying laminate flooring.

Laying Laminate Flooring

When you are set to install laminate flooring you need to decide which way the flooring is going to go.  It can go either direction, however, most actual hardwood flooring that comes in longboards is more expensive than the shorter boards.  So, if you have long laminate pieces you’ll want to go where the length of the boards can be displayed. This does not only help the laminate look more expensive but it should be easier to install, fewer pieces.

 It is recommended to start at the front door and go perpendicular to the door. However, when laying laminate flooring this is certainly up to you the homeowner on how you’d like your flooring to look. 

When starting the installation ensure the subfloor is very clean and there isn’t any debris left on it before laying laminate flooring.  Tape or fill in any cracks in the subfloor that the laminate is going to cover. This is important, recently I was called out to help somebody who was laying his own grey laminate flooring and it was not going well.  One of the problems he had was he did not prepare his subfloor properly. Doomed from the start. 

You can cut the flooring with a miter saw, however, that’s a very messy and noisy way to do it.  A laminate shear is an easy way to manually cut the boards and they can be cut right in the same room as it is not messy or noisy.

Start at the wall with the most doorways. Doorways are the most difficult to maneuver around, so starting there is good, ending there can make things just that much more difficult.  You can use transition strips in doorways to get better coverage and have a better overall finished look.

Plan your Flooring Layout

When laying laminate flooring you need to get a good layout.  Remember that the room may not be perfectly wide as the planks.  So, you’ll need to measure it and plan accordingly. You don’t want to have a super thin sliver of boards to install at the very end.  So, determining how wide the first row should be is important. When laying laminate flooring you want an even look such as a professional would have. 

Here is a step by step summary of what needs to be done.

  1. Let the boards acclimatize – Open the boxes and let them sit for 24 hours where they are going to be installed. This is less of an issue here in Ireland as we do not tend to have big swings in temperature but no harm doing it.
  2. Check Moisture Levels – Ensure the floor is dry.
  3. Clean the floor – Ensure the subfloor is clean and free from all debris. Give it a good sweep and ensure it is dry as previously stated.
  4. Put down a moisture barrier.  Put down a plastic cover on the floor that is going to be covered with your new laminate floor
  5. Put down your Underlay
  6. Start laying your floor – Ok this is where the fun begins, start laying the floorboards in the direction you have chosen. Get that first board down. You will probably do this along the longest wall in the room.
  7. Add your spacers – Add little spaces ( about 1/4 inch thick) between the first board and the wall.
  8. Add the 2nd board – click into place the second board with the first. Use lengths that differ from the first board.
  9. Keep adding more boards – work your way across the room, ensure the gaps between the boards are properly sealed.
  10. Cut to fit – at some stage you will need to cut some boards to fit into small spaces.