How to Install Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is one of the most beautiful flooring types that can be installed at an affordable price. This type of flooring consists mostly of wood, is resistant to burns, scratches, and heat, and very easy to maintain. Before you start installing laminate flooring, remember to leave unopened cartons of flooring in the room in which they will be installed, so the laminate has a chance to acclimate.

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Tools Needed to Install Laminate Flooring

Circular Saw

You will need the following tools and supplies:

  • Safety Glasses/Dust Mask
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Utility Knife
  • Carpenters glue
  • Undercut saw
  • Hammer
  • Adhesive tape
  • Chisel
  • Circular or Table Saw with carbide tip blade
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Verify the Surface

Laminate Flooring Leveling
Photo © AFresh1

Before starting, make sure that the surface on which the laminate flooring will be installed is flat so that the new flooring will be flat as well. Be sure that the floors are clean, dry and that all glue or debris has been removed. If you are installing over a concrete subfloor or over concrete covered by tiles, place a 6 mil plastic sheet vapor barrier and verify that all seams are sealed. Do not use plastic sheeting over an existing wood floor.

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Measure the Room

a hand holding an extended tape measure
Ponsulak Kunsub / EyeEm / Getty Images

For a nice laminate flooring installation, it is important that the first and last planks have the same width or are approximately equal in size, and the length of the first and last planks should be approximately equal, as well.

To have end planks with the same width, measure the room wall to wall and divide by the width of one plank. If the remainder is less than 12 inches, divide it by two and this will be the width of both planks. Repeat the procedure, this time measuring the length of the room.

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Mix Planks

Flooring Planks Mixed

When possible, install planks with their length parallel to incoming sunlight. Start at the left or right corner of the room. Cut the first row and run its edge parallel to the wall using the spacers.

It is recommended to mix planks from different boxes during installation because it will create the best visual effect and will be the best way to have a uniform flooring color.

Aligning grout lines lengthwise and crosswise in a room is recommended. Place thin joints next to thick ones.

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Install the Planks

Laminate Flooring Planks

Install laminate flooring planks by inserting one short end into the other at an angle, approximately 20 degrees, and pressing down. Once you are getting to the last plank of the row, cut the plank decorative side up if using a handsaw or side down when using a power saw, and fit into place.

Cut a new plank, following the pattern you are creating, and start a new row of laminate flooring. Lift the previous row slightly to accommodate the new laminate flooring line into position. For the subsequent planks, the short end is positioned at an angle to engage the planks. Continue until you are done.

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Details and Pipes

Laying Laminate Flooring
Pannonia / Getty Images

If you are installing laminate flooring around pipes, drill a hole ½ inch larger than the pipe diameter. Split the plank across the center of the circle and glue plank pieces together. Gaps should be covered with molding or pipe rings once the floor is complete. Remember that water pipes require silicone.

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Finishing Up

Finishing Laminate Flooring
John Loo

Use a piece of flooring to mark the depth that the door frame should be trimmed. Laminate flooring should extend under the door frame. Now you are ready to install the last row.

This last row should be the same width as the first laminate row. Leave some space for expansion of the flooring material. If you need to replace damaged laminate planks, raise the last installed board until you reach the affected plank.

Replace and reinstall. Remove spacers and trim excess plastic sheeting. Install baseboards but do not nail them to the floor.