How to Install Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring can quickly transform the look and feel of a room. Planks lock together without the need for traditional fastening or glue, making it ideal for DIY installation. Here’s what you’ll need for this satisfying intermediate-level project.
- Utility Knife
- Pry Bar
- Wet/Dry Vac
- Tape Measure
- 4-ft. Level
- Hand Saw
- Laminate Floor Blade
- Table Saw
- 40-tooth Carbide Blade
- Tapping Block
- Rubber Mallet
- Pull Bar
- Miter Box
- Coping Saw
- 1-in. Brad Nailer
- Laminate Flooring
- Moisture Barrier
- Flooring Spacers
- Transitions & Moldings
- 1-in. Brads or 4D Nails
- Nail Set
- Wood Filler
- Silicone Sealant
When taking on this DIY task, be sure to equip yourself with the proper safety gear. Throughout the video, we’ll alert you regarding when you should and should not use the safety gear.
Read the instructions. Start by taking some time to read the instructions included with your flooring. While all laminate flooring is installed in a similar way, details vary between brands. Carefully reading your instructions will familiarize you with how your brand of flooring should be installed.
Season the flooring. At least 48 hours before you begin an installation, place your new flooring in the room where you’ll be installing it. This process, called seasoning, allows floor materials to acclimate to the temperature and humidity of the room. Check manufacturer’s instructions for specifics on seasoning your flooring.
Remove base shoe. Remove any base shoe or quarter round from your baseboard with a hammer and pry bar. Score along the top edge of the trim with a utility knife before prying it off to limit paint chipping.
Prep the subfloor. Before installation, you’ll need to check and prep the subfloor to make sure it’s clean, dry, level, and structurally sound. In some cases, it’s fine to go over a single layer of vinyl flooring. If you’ve recently removed carpeting, make sure all pad staples are removed. Regardless of your subfloor material, confirm that it’s solid and stable and vacuum thoroughly. Some laminate flooring has underlayment on the underside of each piece. If yours does not, roll out your underlayment, taping any seams with duct tape.
Prepping for the first rows. Before installation, decide which way you’ll orient the planks. Planks typically run parallel to the longest wall in the room. Once you’ve made your decision, measure across the room and subtract one half to three-fourths of an inch to allow for expansion spacers along each wall. Divide the result by the width of a plank, not including the tongue. If there’s less than two inches left over, cut the planks for the first row so the last row is at least two inches wide. Be sure to always remove the tongue from each piece of laminate that you’ll be using in your first row. This type of cut is called a rip cut.
Begin the starter rows. Start with two rows of planks in a brick-like pattern with joints staggered, working a couple of feet from the wall. Lay down a full plank, [root 00:03:36]:side away from the wall. Hold the second piece at a 45-degree angle, setting the tongue into the end of the first piece. Lower it until it locks. Line up the edges, sliding the tongue in the groove if necessary.
Finish the starter rows. Snap a half plank into the first row by tipping it at a 45-degree angle, setting the tongue into the first-row piece, and lowering it so it locks into place. Continue the second row by locking the end of a new piece while holding it out slightly to allow for the tongue. Lift the outer edge of both pieces until you can ease the tongue into the groove of the first row.
Install spacers. Once you’ve completed the first two starter rows, push the assembly toward the wall. Place a spacer for every foot along each plank. If a plank ends flush with the side of the wall, add a spacer at the end of the plank. These spacers, which you’ll remove later in your installation, will allow the floor to adjust to changes in temperature and humidity.
Work across the room. Using the same tip and lock method you did in the first two rows, work your way across the room, inserting the spacers along the walls as you go.
Ripping the last row. Set and lock full planks together over the second to the last row. Take a full width of scrap and slide its grooved side along the wall, holding a pencil or a marker against its tongue. This will allow you to mark a cut line onto your planks, while allowing for the proper expansion gap. Number the planks before detaching and ripping them.
Install the last row. Beginning with the first piece in your numbered sequence, tip the tongue edge into the second to the last row of planks. Lower it, and using a pull bar and mallet, lock it into place. Tip the tongue end of the next piece into place. Join it to the previous piece, lower it, and fasten it to the second to the last row. Again, use the pull bar and mallet.
Add the trim. Remove the spacers and install base shoe trim using a compressor and a pneumatic brad nailer. Shoe molding will provide a finished look by covering the gap between the floor and the wall.
Install doorway transitions. Floor manufacturers offer specially-designed trim to make a smooth transition between different types of flooring. When you reach a doorway, notch the flooring into the opening, leaving enough room for a transition piece. Measure for the transition piece. If it comes with a metal track, adjust it to length, and install with screws. Install the transition to fit snugly between the door jambs.
Your installation is complete. Step back and admire your new laminate floor.