Installing Laminate Flooring a Do–It–Yourself (DIY) Guide
Getting Started or Ready to Install your Floor?
Laminate Installation Methods
Laminate can be installed one of two ways:
- Glueless Floating – Laminate boards are clicked and locked together above the subfloor.
- Glued Floating – The tongues and groove are secured to each other with a flooring adhesive. Some
glued laminate comes with the adhesive already applied.
Tools and Materials
- 4' or 6' level
- Adhesive remover (if needed)
- Carpenter's square
- Chalk line
- Crow or pull bar
- Electric and/or handsaw with carbide–tipped blade
- Rubber mallet
- Safety goggles
- Tape measure
- Tapping block
- Tongue and groove adhesive (if needed)
- Utility knife
- Utility towels
Prepare The Floor
- Laminate can be installed above wood (plywood, plyboard and OSB board) subfloors and concrete subfloors on any grade
- If approved by the manufacturer, laminate can be installed over radiant heating systems and existing flooring (tile,
porous stone, hardwood, bamboo and vinyl).
- All subfloors and existing flooring must be structurally sound and level. Remove all existing carpet, padding or damaged
flooring. Do not remove any existing flooring if you find asbestos. Follow all local, state and federal guidelines when
handling and/or disposing of asbestos.
- Install laminate parallel to incoming light sources. In narrow rooms, install parallel to the longest wall.
- Perform all moisture tests according to the manufacturer's recommendations. If necessary, install a 6mm
polyethylene/plastic sheeting above your subfloor for moisture protection.
- Allow your laminate to acclimatize to the installation environment per your manufacturer's recommendations (usually
between 48–96 hrs). This usually means keeping the room between 65º and 85º F with a relative humidity of
- Ensure your subfloor is level and free from all dips, valleys or imperfections (such as drywall mud, paint overspray,
etc.). Scrape your subfloor clean. Sand down any high areas. Use self–leveling compound to level all low areas.
- Consider using a suitable underlayment.
Some laminate comes with pre–attached underlayments. If your laminate does not, cork, standard foam, combination
foam/film and upgraded foam are all good choices. For more specific information about these underlayments, see the full
Installing Laminate Flooring guide on FindAnyFloor.com.
- If desired, undercut door casings in the installation area.
- Remove all molding and doors.
- Sweep and vacuum your floor before installing your laminate.
- Always install safely using the proper safety equipment. Follow all manufacturer safety recommendations.
Tips and Tricks
- Always store your laminate away from doors, vents, windows, direct sunlight and outside walls. Never store your laminate
in the garage.
- Always leave at least a 1/4" expansion perimeter. More expansion/contraction room may be necessary in humid climates.
Always check with your manufacturer.
- Using a cork or foam underlayment is highly recommended when installing in multi–story residences.
- Consider calculating the number of rows of laminate you'll need to complete your floor. If your first and last row are
very different widths (for example, your first row is 4" and your last row is 1") re–calculate so that these rows are
- Stagger all joints 2–3 times the width of a laminate board for an even looking floor. Avoid H–joints whenever
- Scribe fit your first and last row to match the wall contours. This ensures your laminate floor goes down straight even
if your walls are not.
- Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for board length (usually between 8"–10") when starting new rows. (You
may be able to use the remainder of the plank you cut from the previous row). Doing this helps ensure the joints are
- Inspect all boards before you install them. Do not install discolored or damaged boards. Cut away damaged areas and use
the remainder to start rows. Use slightly discolored boards in pantries or closets where they may not be as noticeable.
- Always use carbide–tipped saw blades and cut into the prefinished side of the laminate first to avoid chipping the
- Never hit the laminate flooring directly. Use a tapping block to move the laminate boards into position, when needed.
- Do all your cutting in another area to keep the installation area free from sawdust and wood chips.
- Put tools on a piece of cardboard on top of your laminate so that you do not scratch the surface.
- Many professional installers work from left to right, but always choose the direction that is most comfortable for you or
recommended by the flooring manufacturer.
- Always work from your subfloor NOT your newly installed laminate floor.
Install The Underlayment
If needed, install your plastic sheeting, cork, foam or other underlayment according to the manufacturer's
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