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How to Install Laminate Flooring

Installing laminate flooring is an ideal flooring project for DIYers of any experience. With the right tools and set of instructions, you can easily complete your laminate flooring installation in a single day.

Tools & Materials

  • Miter SawTable Saw
  • Tape Measure
  • Retractable Knife
  • Pencil
  • Safety Glasses
  • Dust Mask
  • Knee Pads
  • Hammer
  • Flooring Installation Kit (spacers, knock block and pull bar)
  • Laminate floor boards
  • Underlayment*
  • Vapour Barrier*

A Few Things to Consider:

*Underlayment

It’s recommended that you lay an underlayment between the subfloor and the floorboards to improve acoustics and provide more comfort underfoot. The grip of the underlayment also helps hold the laminate flooring in place after installation is complete.

*Vapour Barrier

If you’re installing over concrete, below grade, or in a room with high humidity or moisture, a vapor barrier is required. Moisture barriers prevent any moisture in the concrete subfloor from penetrating your new flooring.

Acclimate Your Floor Boards

Place your Laminate floorboards in their unopened packages in the room you’ll be installing them, and let them acclimate for at least 72 hours before you start your installation. This allows your floors to adjust to the temperature and humidity of the room, and reduces the likelihood of your floors swelling, shrinking, and warping.

Read the Manufacturer Instructions

As with any home improvement project, ensure you read the instructions that come with your flooring materials thoroughly before beginning your installation.


STEP 1 – HOW TO PREP YOUR SUBFLOOR

For best results, laminate flooring should be installed over a wood or concrete subfloor. Before you begin your laminate floor installation, it’s important to ensure that your subfloor is clean, solid, and flat. So, before you start laying your floor be sure to:

  • Remove any existing flooring
  • Remove moldings
  • Thoroughly vacuum the subfloor and rid it of all debris
  • Ensure the subfloor is level (with straight edge or laser level)

PRO TIP: your subfloor should have no more than a ¼” height difference up or down within an 8 foot span. If the floor needs levelling, you can apply a self-levelling thinset mortar to fill in the sub floor’s low spots (available at most home improvement stores).

Next, lay your moisture barrier flat to the subfloor, and ensure that the pieces overlap, and are held together using duct tape.

Finally, roll out the underlayment across your subfloor.


STEP 2 – HOW TO PREP THE DOOR JAMBS

Before you install your laminate of choice, you’ll first want to trim your existing door jamb to make room for your new floor. If you’re removing old flooring, the door jamb may already have enough clearance for your new laminate. If not, you’ll need an undercut saw to trim your door jamb neatly and accurately.

First, butt a piece of laminate against the bottom of the door jamb and draw a line where the top of the laminate meets the door jamb. This line will be your cut mark. Using the undercut saw and a scrap piece of laminate for backing, cut the door jamb and adjoining trim away. If your new flooring doesn’t come with pre-installed underlayment, make sure you take the underlayment thickness into account when measuring your cut.


STEP 3 – HOW TO PLAN YOUR LAYOUT

  • Open the boxes and inspect the product. It may seem tedious, but it’s worthwhile to quickly inspect each board for defects like warping, chipping, or splitting
  • Using a saw, carefully cut the tongue side off the planks you’ll be using along your starter wall
  • Next, ensure your expansion gap spacers are in place along the starting wall, then begin laying the floorboards with the flat side snug against the spacers, and the grooved side facing the room
  • Lay your starter row from left to right

STEP 4 – HOW TO LAY THE FIRST TWO ROWS

Now, you’re ready to start laying the first two rows of your floor.

When installing your floorboards, you want to ensure you connect the planks in the ordered shown in the image below

Laying-Your-Floors

  • To connect Boards 1 and 2, use a slight angle to ease the tongue side of Board 2 into the groove side of Board 1 until they fit snuggly together like two puzzle pieces
  • Then, lay Board 2 flat to the subfloor until the boards are locked into place
  • Lay your boards from left to right

STEP 5 – HOW TO LAY THE REST OF THE FLOOR

  • Continue to lay your boards form left to right: repeat this process until your subfloor is covered
    • To ensure your floor remains stable, be sure to stagger the boards when laying your floor
      • You never want the seams in adjacent rows to be less than 6” apart (for added stability we recommend a 12” stagger between seams)
      • Maintain a minimum length for end boards (we suggest a minimum length of 8″)
  • To ensure a secure lock between boards, consider using a knock block to edge boards into place

PRO TIP: when placing a knock block against the edge of the board you’re fitting into place, ensure that it’s placed above the tongue, not against it or else it will be crushed


STEP 6 – HOW TO TRIM AND FIT THE EDGE PIECES

  • When you get to the end pieces, measure the distance between the second to last plank and your gap space, and mark your edge plank with pencil

PRO TIP: when cutting your floorboards to size, place the plank with the pattern or face side down then trim using a fine-toothed circular blade—we suggest using a miter or table saw.

  • To install these end pieces, we recommend using a pull bar for a tight fit

STEP 7 – HOW TO INSTALL YOUR LAST ROW

  • Measure the width needed for the last row and subtract the manufacturer’s expansion gap.
  • Measure to the board surfaces (excluding the tongue) and rip (cut lengthwise) the last boards along the groove edge.
  • Some flooring products have a small plastic tongue in the short side groove of the planks which helps lock the pieces together. Be sure to remove the plastic tongue before cutting the length of the board
  • Use a pull bar and hammer to lock the last row in place.

STEP 8 – HOW TO INSTALL FLOORING AROUND VENTS

  • Cut any underlayment or vapor barrier that covers the vent opening with a retractable knife
  • Loosely lay a plank over the vent, and note where the plank overlaps the opening
  • Take your pencil and mark these areas of plank directly onto the face of the floorboard

PRO TIP: It’s a good idea to mark your board about one centimetre wider than the vent to ensure the grate slips in easily.

  • Trim these boards with your saw accordingly, then install around the vent

STEP 9 – HOW TO INSTALL THRESHOLD AND TRANSITION PIECES

Measure and Mark Threshold Flooring Pieces.

Once you trim the door jamb to the proper clearance, you’ll want to measure and mark the piece or pieces of laminate going through the threshold. If your flooring runs parallel with the door, you’ll likely have only one piece of laminate to trim.

Using a framing square, measure the depth of your door jamb by sliding the square under the newly cut gap until the tool hits the door frame or stud. Measure on the inner jamb as well as both sides of the door where the trim is located. Transfer these measurements to your laminate. If your laminate runs perpendicular to the door, you’ll have multiple pieces to measure and mark.

Cut the Laminate.

Now that you have the exact measurements of your door jamb gap outlined, cut your laminate to fit nicely under the gap. Since you’re cutting a notch, you’ll want to use a jigsaw with a low-profile blade. A manual coping saw will also work if you’re not comfortable using the jigsaw.

Before you make any cuts, make sure the visible side or good side of the laminate is facing down. Coping saws, jigsaws, and even circular saws cut on the upstroke, so the cleanest side of the cut will remain on the visible side of the laminate when cutting face down.

Install the Notched Laminate.

Now install the notched laminate planks in the doorway. Since most new laminate flooring uses a click-lock tongue-and-groove system, you’ll have to trim off the upper groove of the laminate plank that comes before the notched piece.

You can use a planer or a power sander to make your installation. Once you remove the joining plank’s groove, slide the notched piece under the trimmed door jamb and press the piece into place. Since you removed the adjoining groove, you’ll want to use a PVA Type 2 glue on this joint only.


STEP 10 – THE FINISHING TOUCHES

Now that your laminate flooring has been laid, it’s time to put the final touches on your project. Be sure to:

  • Take your spacers out from between the end floor boards and the wall
  • Trim any excess underlayment that curls up the wall
  • If you’re installing in a more humid climate or in a room that sees a significant amount of moisture, be sure to apply a silicone sealant in the expansion space around the perimeter of the floor
  • Attach the baseboards and shoe molding to the walls as needed do not attach them to the floors

And there you have it! You’ve successfully installed your laminate wood flooring using a floating method–and in just 10 easy to follow step!

What do you think? Do you have any trade secrets or tips on installing laminate floors via a floating method? Let us know in the comments section!
Article updated on November 29th, 2015

(44) Comments

  1. I need to know if is a good idea to put laminated floor in the kitchen and what is the difference between a 5/16″ to 9/32″ thickness?

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Goya,

      Thank you for getting in touch! We don’t usually recommend laminate in areas with moisture but we have seen laminate and hardwood installed in kitchens. I usually suggest making sure to have a mat in front of your sink, fridge, stove and dishwasher to catch any spills. Also make sure to clean up any spills as quickly as possible so it doesn’t seep into the seams. The only real difference is the thickness of the plank, it maybe a bit more durable because it is thicker but not necessarily. If you want something more durable I would look at the AC rating of the flooring. Please don’t hesitate if you have any other questions!

  2. If I don’t have any door jambs to be concerned about, and I’m tearing up an old carpet replacing with laminate,with just a subfloor, will I need a vapor barrier? This is a first floor with a climate controlled basement.

  3. I would like to extend my floating floor after I remove the ceramic floor tiles. The floating floor will be extended left of the existing floor which I think is the opposite way to do this. What would be the best way without tearing out the whole floor?

  4. Pingback: How To Install Laminate Flooring | HOW TO

  5. We want laminate Flooring in our den. We have two concrete steps up into the kitchen and a concrete landing into, which is about 5×4…. We have been told that laminate flooring cannot be put down on concrete steps, etc. Is this true? We also have a concrete fireplace in one end of the den and they tell us they can lay the laminate flooring around the fireplace…..What does this tell you. We are very confused. Lowe’s is one of the companies that tells us this info.
    HELP!

    • Hi Joan,

      I can’t think of a reason not to install laminate on stairs, concrete or otherwise, assuming that the steps are at precise 90 degree angles. Otherwise, maybe this video will help, which also includes some jaunty ukulele music.

      I hope that helps!

    • Hi Naseem,

      On the product page, there is a tab called “Additional Info”. You can download the installation instructions from there.

      Hope this helps!

  6. Pingback: Installing Laminated Flooring Is Now Easy | swisshomie.com

  7. Jacqueline A. Bowers - Reply

    I guy had Laminate flooring put down in Bedroom and Kitchen And Living Room area, It,s now starting to come up. The Gentleman that put it down says he will have to get some sort of screws. Is this true?

  8. We are going to install our laminate floor in our kitchen that has carpet in the living room and hall way and a walkout to the deck. The kitchen is in a split level above ground. Our question is which way do we lay the laminate–horizontal to the walkout door in kitchen and end up in the living room with the long edge (13 feet wide) of the flooring going under the transition piece OR do we lay the laminate to where the ends of the laminate start at walkout door and end up under the transition piece to carpet. Our walkout faces east with sun in morning and then sun comes in the 4 x 5 window from south into the kitchen in the afternoon.
    Thank you
    Doug

  9. I had to tear up some of the laminete flooring that was just installed. Can i reinstall the portion that we pulled up back wards or do k need to pull the whole floor up and insta from the start

  10. What do you think of laying a laminate flooring in a ground level, now concrete floor?
    Does the floor have to be carefully leveled so that no buckling might occur? If a floor were
    not level, say with some concave areas, would the laminate strips eventually crack in these places?

    How thick an underlay would be necessary in a basement-type concrete slab area, to ease the coldness of the floor once laminate is installed?

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