The thought of installing your own laminate flooring instead of calling the professionals might be a daunting one.
But laminate flooring is much easier to install than other types of flooring, such as tiles.
What makes laminate flooring easy to install?
You don’t have to worry about mortar or grout, and you don’t have to worry about adhesives, either.
With that in mind, here’s your guide on how to install laminate flooring.
We’ll start with the tools you’ll need.
How To Lay Laminate Flooring In 12 Easy Steps
Step One: Gather Your Tools
Here are the tools you need to have in order to install laminate flooring:
- Rubber mallet (optional)
- Table saw
- Chop saw
- Pull bar
- Tapping block
- Tape measure
You’ll obviously also need your laminate pieces, underlayment (which we’ll explain later in this tutorial), as well as 100-percent silicone sealant.
Step Two: Clean And Prepare The Floor
You can’t simply remove your current flooring and then lay down the laminate. The floor should be properly cleaned with a vacuum cleaner. You’ll also have to cut away the baseboards so that it will be easier to install the laminate.
The good thing about laminate flooring is that it can generally be placed directly onto old floor coverings like sheet vinyl as long as the surface is both smooth and flat. Make sure there are no bumps or any uneven areas.
Step Three: Put Underlayment Down
Now, this is probably the “stressful” part of installing laminate flooring – you’re going to have to put down the underlayment. This is basically foam that will make it easier to walk on the laminate flooring.
You can also find underlayment that protects the floor from moisture. Generally, underlay can cost between £3 and £8 per square meter.
You want to place sheets of underlayment and press the edges together so that they make contact with each other but don’t overlap. The seams will have to be secured with tape. Don’t forget to trim the underlayment so that it fits properly around the walls.
Step Four: Remove The Laminate Tongues
Take a look at the laminate pieces. They have what’s known as tongues. These are small, flat edges on one side of the board. They’ll be angled and locked into the bottom sides of other laminate boards so you can fit them together.
Make sure you remove the tongues on the pieces that are going to be the first row along your room’s straight walls. To do this, you’ll need to use your table saw.
Step Five: Deal With Uneven Walls
If you have uneven walls, you’ll have to ensure your laminate pieces will fit properly. To help you out with this, use a compass to trace the contour on the tongue side of the wooden plank. Cut it with a jigsaw.
Step Six: Start Assembling Your First Row
Place the first row of laminate, being careful to position the boards with their tongues away from the wall. As you work, make sure you insert the end tongues into the end grooves and then rotate the boards downwards so that you can assemble them.
Also make sure the planks are all aligned, with their joints closed.
FYI, the groove side of the laminate is the bottom side. This is a larger and wider side that has a lip so that the boards will be held together when locked.
It’s a good idea to lay down the first row on the longest wall in the room. Work from right to left. The planks should be spaced approximately a ¼ to ⅜ inches from the wall. The groove edges should face outwards. Spacers should be placed to ensure the gap remains intact while you work.
Step Seven: Lock The Laminate Pieces
As you place the laminate planks, you should ensure that you lock every piece to the one that’s next to it. You’ll need a tapping block or pull bar and hammer to do this. Make sure that the planks’ end joints are tight and don’t leave any gaps.
Step Eight: Complete The First Row
When you’ve come to the end of the first row of laminate, you might find that the last piece will be too long. Cut this piece to length with the use of a jigsaw or circular saw.
Keep the piece you cut off, though, as it will be the first plank in the second row that you put down.
Step Nine: Cut The Next Rows
Now you can cut the first piece of laminate for your next row with your table saw. When starting new rows of the laminate, use pieces that have been trimmed from your previous rows.
Bear in mind it’s good to ensure that the pieces are no less than 16 inches in length, otherwise you won’t get a professional-looking result.
Make sure the rows of laminate have a sawtooth appearance so the seams aren’t aligned. It would look strange if they were!
Step Ten: Adjust Your Technique
When dealing with the second and subsequent rows of laminate pieces, you will have to adjust your technique a bit. You want to hold every piece at a 45-degree angle and make sure you insert the long tongue edge into the plank’s groove in the preceding row.
Lower the piece onto the floor and flatten it so that you lock the joint. Make sure you gently tap the plank into the one next to it with the hammer and pull bar or tapping block.
Step Eleven: Get Your Last Row Aligned
When you get to the last row of laminate, you will use the same method of fitting the tongue into the groove. However, you might find it’s a little more difficult at this stage because you’ll be against the wall.
Take your time. You should still be able to angle the pieces so that you can lock them properly.
Gently tap the long-side joint closed with a pull bar and rubber mallet. Then, tap the short side with a pull bar. Now you can go ahead and remove all the spacers!
Step Twelve: Apply Your Sealant
Now you can go ahead and apply the sealant along the perimeter of the laminate planks. This will protect it against moisture.
Pros And Cons Of Laminate Flooring
If you’re interested in installing laminate flooring, it’s good to know its pros and cons. Let’s take a look at them.
- Laminate flooring is quite easy for you to install, as we’ve seen in our step-by-step guide.
- These floors offer good resistance to stains. This means they’ll always look good.
- They’re healthy for you and your family because they’re not as allergenic as what you’d find with carpeted floors that trap allergens and bacteria.
- They’re easy to clean. Simply use a broom to sweep them or grab your vacuum cleaner. You can also mop laminate, but you don’t have to worry about waxing it because this is unnecessary.
- When laminate flooring becomes very scratched and damaged, you can’t sand it down or refinish it in the same way you would with hardwood flooring. You have to have it replaced.
- Since it’s quite hard, it can be noisy when walked on.
- It’s prone to moisture damage, so you should avoid installing laminate flooring in laundry rooms. If you want to put it in your basement, you will need to make use of a moisture barrier, which means you’ll have to put in a bit more effort when installing it.
- Although resistant to allergens, laminate flooring does contain some chemicals. Its wear layer (or top layer) contains plastic that doesn’t break down in landfills and sometimes contains formaldehyde as well as other toxic chemicals.
What’s the best tool to cut laminate pieces?
Table saws give you the best cuts, but if you want to produce curves or notches in the laminate you’ll have to use a jigsaw for best results.
How long do laminate floors last?
This type of flooring has a long lifespan – you’re looking at between 15 to 25 years.
How much does laminate flooring installation cost?
Generally, installation can cost between £8 to £12 per meter squared. You’ll find that you’ll usually be charged per metre squared, but some fitters will charge a daily rate, which can be approximately £150.
If you need to lay down laminate flooring, you might wonder how to go about it. As you can see after reading this article, it’s actually not a difficult process to do and you might not have to call the professionals to help you out.
We’ve also looked at some important advantages and potential drawbacks of laminate flooring so you can figure out if it’s the best choice for you.