How To Install Laminate Flooring

How to install laminate flooring yourself.

Measure the Room

Measure your room to determine how much flooring will be needed.

If it is a square room, simply measure the length of the room and the width of the room and multiply the two numbers.  This will give you the number of square feet of flooring needed.

If the room has uneven spaces, just measure the small spaces as if they were their own room and then multiply.  Then add the total square feet of all the small areas in order to get the total square footage.

Purchasing the Laminate Flooring

When purchasing always add 5 percent to the total square footage for waste.  If this is your first time tackling a project like this you might even want to add 10 percent extra.  Most home improvement stores will accept returns on any unopened bundles that you have left over.

Laminate Flooring Underlayment

You will need a pad (underlayment) to go underneath the flooring.

This serves two purposes.  It helps with sound and it also acts as a moisture barrier.

Preparing the Existing Floor

One of the things that many people ask when they are learning how to install laminate flooring for the first time is “What should I do about my existing floor?”

The answer is that laminate flooring can be installed over many types of existing floorings, such as ceramic, tile and linoleum if they are down securely and not loose.

Sheet Linoleum: If there are tears or holes in it, cut them out and install a flooring patch (which can be purchased at any do-it-yourself store).

Carpet: Remove the carpet and the tack strip and then clean the surface of dust and debris.  Some slabs have sheetrock mud and other spots that the carpet covered up.  Scrape these up because over time they will affect your flooring and possibly void the warranty.

Plywood Sub-Flooring:  Check the plywood surface for loose nails, loose flooring, and be sure that your plywood is down hard because it will cause more sound and damage your floor.

Doors and Door Jambs

Removing doors will make it easier for you to move around.

Cut door jambs and door trim so your flooring will slide under and give a better finished look.

For small jobs you can purchase a hand jamb saw.  For larger jobs with many doors and openings I recommend using a Roto Zip and wood cutting attachment that can be purchased at home improvement stores.

Floor & Pad Installation

Lay the pad on the sub floor.  Let it lay up about 1 inch on the baseboards on both sides.  This can be trimmed off later.

Start laying your laminate floor boards running parallel with your longest wall.  This is a rule of thumb, but it’s not written in blood.  This is your choice.

Run one full length of wall starting with a full piece of flooring, with the lip and groove facing the starting wall.

Start your second run by cutting a full piece of flooring in half and then beginning with half a piece.

When you get to the end of each run measure from wall to flooring and take 1/4 inch off the measurement.  Snap these together and save the cutoffs to start new runs.

Take the longest cutoff and start your next run.  Doing it this way I find that I can run two or three runs at a time.  It is less up and down on my knees!

Follow the above steps all the way through.

Trim Pieces

When you finish, cut off the excess pad and install 11/16 inch X 11/16 inch shoe molding.  This allows the floor to give and take and also covers gaps.

Among the tools you will need when learning how to install laminate flooring are a tapping block, a pull bar, and a pry bar.

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