How to Install Laminate Flooring

Helpful laminate flooring tips for DIY installations

Laminate flooring is an excellent alternative to hardwood floors and tile floors; they can approximate the same look, but for far less money. Also, laminate is one of the easiest flooring materials to maintain, as it doesn't require any special maintenance or upkeep, and it's easy to sweep and safe to wet mop or dry mop.

Before you worry about installing flooring, there are a couple of preparatory notes to keep in mind. First, when you purchasing your laminate flooring, buy 20 percent more than the area you need to cover. You might make mistakes in cutting, or you might find that some flooring pieces are discolored or slightly warped. Second, when you bring your flooring home, open the boxes to let the air get at the product inside for at least 48 hours. This will help prevent buckling and warping when you install it.

Laminate Flooring Tips: Proper Installation

To install laminate flooring, you will need:

  • A jigsaw
  • A miter saw
  • Rubber mallet
  • Crowbar
  • Spacers
  • Blocks
  • Measuring tape
  • Caulking
  • 90-degree square

Follow these steps when installing flooring:

  1. Prepare your subfloor. Lay down a moisture barrier, and be sure that the subfloor is perfectly level before you begin. Do not use laminates in any room with a drain in the floor, as the surface won't be level.
  2. Perform a test run by laying out the flooring without actually installing it. Take precise measurements and use your saws to cut any pieces of flooring that require customized lengths.
  3. Start at the room's largest wall by laying your laminate boards. Make sure that the grooved side of the board is oriented towards the wall, and leave exactly 5/16 of an inch between the board and the wall. Use your spacers to pinpoint this length precisely.
  4. Attach your laminate boards piece by piece, running lengthwise along the wall. Remember to leave 5/16 of an inch when you reach the end of the row.
  5. Continue to lay and attach the laminate strips row by row, until the entire floor is covered.
  6. Place your moldings in the 5/16-inch border running around the room.
  7. Seal any cracks or gaps with caulking.

These instructions are for laminate floors which do not require gluing (which account for the majority of the products on the market today). If you have laminate flooring tiles which require glue, follow the manufacturer's installation instructions.