How to Install Laminate DIY

DIY: One Room in One Day!

Set down a new floor in no time at all. Do you really think so? Laminate flooring is easy to install and can be walked on the same day. Can you believe that? You should know how to install laminate DIY to prove that!

Laminate flooring is easier to install than hardwood flooring and offers the same appearance. The planks consist of medium-density fiberboard sandwiched between plastic laminate. The top laminate looks like random-grain wood, but its plastic composition makes it scratch- and stain-resistant. It also leaves room for options like gray laminate wood flooring or dark wood laminate flooring. The precision-milled tongue-and-groove edges make accurate installation a snap. The whole floating floor assembly is glued together at the edges and floats on a thin, closed-cell polyethylene foam pad.

This is probably the main laminate advantage! How about installation?

Pro

Laminate installs fast and easy. Fast: you can install 300 square feet in one weekend. Older types of laminate flooring required you to glue pieces to each other. Today’s types of laminate flooring have a click/lock or fold/lock design that allows planks to fit together like puzzle pieces. Easy: since the planks are constructed of soft particleboard, they can be cut with a hand saw or even a utility knife.

Con

While designed to be easy, the click/lock or fold/lock design often does not work as well as it should. Sides of the boards can be especially difficult to join with adjoining sides. Also, if you force boards into place, you risk curling up the top wear layer, compromising the floor’s ability to resist moisture. That’s why you need a guide!

install-laminate-flooring-diy

WHAT YOU NEED TO INSTALL LAMINATE DIY

Tools:

Pry bar, tape measure, pencil, table saw, spacing blocks, tapping blocks, hammer

Materials:

Laminate flooring, underlayment, shoe molding, finishing nails

HOW TO INSTALL LAMINATE DIY

STEP 1

Acclimate the Flooring

Your laminate wood flooring should sit in the room for at least 48 hours prior to installation, giving it time to expand or contract in relation to the room’s temperature and humidity. It is especially needed in the cold weather. This prevents buckling and other problems after installation.

STEP 2

Remove Baseboard

Remove existing baseboard molding. Use the pry bar to remove baseboard from the wall; set the pieces aside for re-installation. Floating laminate planks should be installed over a hard, smooth surface, such as vinyl. If existing flooring is damaged, remove it to reveal the sub-floor. Don’t install laminate on the damaged basement.

STEP 3

Install Underlayment

Install the underlayment to your floating laminate floor. Clear the floor of staples, nails, and other dirt. Roll out the underlayment. Do not overlap adjoining strips. Use the utility knife to cut pieces as needed. The foam underlayment deadens sound and helps the floor feel more resilient and durable.

STEP 4

Plan the Layout

To decide which direction to lay the planks, consider which wall is the longest and straightest. Avoid a narrow strip against the focal-point wall. Planks in the last row should be at least 2 inches wide. Figure on a 1/4-inch gap at each wall. Note: If the last row will be less than 2 inches wide, add that width to the width of a full plank and divide by 2. Cut planks in the first and last rows to this width. This is the secret you should know.

STEP 5

Cut First Row

Depending on your layout, you may need to rip, or cut the first row of planks lengthwise. If using a power saw (better table saw), cut with the finished side down; if using a handsaw, cut with the finished side up. Use clamps to steady the planks as you cut them.

STEP 6

Leave a Gap

Laminate wood flooring kits come with space chips. Wedge these between the wall and the planks to leave an expansion gap of 1/4 inch. We’ve already mentioned about it. The won’t be visible once the baseboard is attached.

STEP 7

Install the First Row

Install the planks with the tongue side facing the wall (some manufacturers recommend you cut off the tongue edge of planks that face walls). Connect one plank to another by connecting the tongues and grooves. You may be able to snugly connect the planks by hand, or you may need to use a pull bar from the installation kit and a hammer to pull them together or a tapping block to tap the joints together. Cut the last plank in the row to length (save the scraps if they’re at least 12 inches long).

STEP 8

Install Additional Rows

Install additional rows. As you snap on new rows, stagger the seams at least 12 inches in adjoining rows, much like you’d see on a wood plank wall or a brick wall. You often can start a new row with the scrap from the plank you cut to end the previous row.

STEP 9

Install the Last Row

You’ll need to slide the planks into position at an angle, then gently pry them into place with the pry bar. Be sure you leave a 1/4-inch expansion gap between the last row and the wall. Don’t forget about it!

STEP 10

Cut Around Casings

Cut around door casings. Don’t try to cut planks to fit around door casings. Instead, it is better to use the jamb saw to cut the door casing about 1/16 inch above the height of the flooring, giving the plank room to slide under the casing. Rest a piece of flooring with underlayment on the floor and against the casing. Rest the jamb saw on top and cut the casing to the desired height.

STEP 11

Reinstall Trim

Reinstall the trim. After the planks are in place, reinstall the baseboard molding using the hammer and finishing nails. Then install shoe molding over the expansion joints and use transition strips to connect the laminate to adjoining surfaces, such as tile or carpet. Do not nail through the floor, just through the trim and wall.

But now…waiting for your flooring to arrive, you are pretty intimidated when this showed up in your driveway! If installing area is big, you can receive about 50 boxes or even more of brilliantly packaged and prepared laminate flooring! Don’t forget to leave it in the house for some time to acclimate the flooring! And the only thing standing between you and your new laminate is your installing skill! Read our tips again and remind how to install laminate DIY.

Please checkout full video on how to do laminate waterproof floors by Youdoit

 

Comment if you like our flooring installation article!

 

Install Wood Laminate Flooring

If you like laminate floor and want to have it in your home, you can try to install it! Sounds scaring? Oh, don’t be afraid! You can install wood laminate flooring in a weekend. It’s all because of snap-together fastening system that simplifies laminate floor laying. No glue, no nails. It’s so easy to install that you can lay a beautiful, yet durable hardwood floor in a weekend. It’s pre-finished too, so no dusty sanding and painstaking finish work. Read the article and see how to prepare your floor and then lay the boards. Be sure, this is a sort of DIY project you can cope with, even if you have no more than some simple carpentry skills.

install wood laminate flooring

Minimum Tools You May Need to Get the Job Done

Of course, if you are professional, you can install laminate flooring without any tool. But still, you’d better have something for help. The tools you may use for installing laminate flooring are similar to snap-together plastic laminate floors. By the way, the 5/16-in. thick flooring has specially shaped tongues and grooves that interlock to form a strong tight joint without glue or nails. Once assembled, the entire floor “floats” in one large sheet. You leave a small expansion space all around the edges so the floor can expand and contract with humidity changes.

The cost of wood laminate floors (often called engineered wood floors) varies. It mostly depends on the species and thickness of the top wood layer. There are a few types of snap-together floors but you can pick the best variant from your local flooring retailer. It is also possible to buy flooring online!

So, if you want to make the best choice ever, you should draw a sketch of your room with dimensions. Ask your salesperson for help choosing the right transition moldings for these areas. You’ll need a few special tools in addition to basic hand tools like a tape measure, square and utility knife to know how to install wood flooring. A table saw and power miter saw would make your how to install laminate floors job easier but aren’t necessary.

  1. Prep the Room First

Make sure your floor is dry. Don’t install wood laminate flooring over damp surface or damp crawlspaces. Check it for excess moisture. It’s not a difficult to do with the help of the plastic mat test. One more thing, professional installers don’t advice to install wood laminate flooring in all areas where they might be subjected to standing water.

Then prepare your room for the new laminate flooring installation. Make sure the existing floor is smooth and flat. You can clear the old floor and smooth it by scraping off lumps and sweeping it. If you have wood floors, now’s the time to fix squeaks and tighten loose boards by screwing them to the joists with deck screws.

  1. Roll Out Underlayment and Seal Together

It is always recommended to put down underlayment before laying the laminate. Why? This thin foam helps to absorb sounds; provides a thermal barrier; makes it easier to walk on the laminate, and helps the flooring bridge minor gaps and bumps. Underlayment is always a default choice. However, if your subfloor is flat and will always remain as dry as a bone, underlayment is not needed.

  1. Laying the First Row of Laminate Flooring

Cut the tongue from the wall-side boards with your circular or table saw. Begin your first row along the longest wall, with the former tongue side against the wall. Start on the right side and work leftward. Otherwise, planks will stay in place well enough without spacers. After you have a few rows down, the flooring will be so heavy that it won’t slide.

You may consult flooring instructions for having some recommendations about expansion gap widths. Most guides tend to overstate the width needed. If your gap width is too much, you will end up causing yourself frustration down the road when you install baseboards.

  1. Laying the Floor: Move Cut Piece to Next Row

Once you reach the end of the first row, the last plank will be too long. Measure the length needed and transfer that measurement on a full-size plank, measuring from the right to left side. This is important so that you don’t cut off the tongue end of the plank. You want to preserve the tongue so that it will lock into the end of the first row. The cut-off piece will get shifted to the next row down.

installing laminate technique

  1. Laminate Plank Layout Process

This diagram shows the process for laying your laminate floor. Moving from right to left, your last row piece will always be cut off. That cut-off piece will be shifted down to the next row, moving it all the way to the right to start that row. You can find the picture in the internet to check it out. Pay attention!

Stagger Your Laminate Planks

Your rows of laminate planks should have this type of staggered, sawtooth appearance. Seams in one row should never meet up with seams in an adjacent row because this is structurally unstable. It’s possible to keep cut pieces no less than 16 inches long. If you have a good, stable, flat subfloor, you can probably push this length down to under a foot-but only in a pinch, no more.

  1. Tilt Planks at 45 Degree Angle to Place Them

Laminate planks, the most of the modern brands, often have a locking mechanism that requires you to first tilt the board up at around 45 degrees. It’s easy to do! You’ll feel the plank ever-so-minutely shift into place into the lower plank.

  1. Close Up Shows Gap in Laminate Planks

Laminate is one type of flooring where gaps between planks are anathema. If you want to make your laminate stable to water damage you will need to seal this off by making sure the planks are tightly fitted. If you have a gap, the reason is almost always because you hadn’t tilted the plank up high enough in the previous step.

As you can see, it is not a problem to install wood laminate flooring with your own efforts. Unlike porcelain or ceramic tile, laminate installs dry (no grout, no mortar) and does not need difficult cutting with a special saw. Unlike solid hardwood floor, that needs to be nailed down. Laminate installation is much like putting together a large puzzle. There is no reason why you should not be able to install one room in one day. Try!

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