Install laminate flooring
Find out how to install laminate flooring; a great upgrade to any room
By Gregg Cocking
Tools and materials
In order to install laminate planks quickly and in a professional manner, you should use the right tools.
You will need:
Laminate flooring packs
Underlay for laminate flooring
When moving into our new home, we weren’t the greatest fans of the carpeting, which at that stage was already slightly stained and starting to become tacky, even after numerous professional companies had tried to remove the stains. So, after a year of putting up with them we eventually took the plunge and had the three bedrooms fitted with laminate floors.
After much consideration we decided to go with 8mm Country Oak from Floors Direct. And this is how we did it.
Step 1: Before you even begin you’ll need to acclimatise your new laminate flooring in the house for 48 hours. Humidity and the temperature in a house can affect all types of installations (not just cheap flooring). Take off any plastic wrapping and leave the boards to acclimatise. When you do get to work, start by emptying the rooms of any furniture and pulling up the carpets.
Step 2: Once the carpets are up, the undercarpet needs to come off too – depending on the original installation you may find clumps of carpet stuck to the glue on the floor – these obviously need to be removed too, and a chisel often works quickest.
Step 3: Use a hammer and pry bar to remove any excess wood from the floor.
Step 4: Once the carpets are removed there shouldn’t be any debris or dirt on the subfloor (many people who know how to install laminate flooring all insist on this). Check to make sure that the floor is level, otherwise a screed may need to be put down to level the floor.
Step 5: Unfortunately for us, our floors were far from level. A screed is a thin layer of cement mix laid over a floor surface. Screeds are usually used to create a smooth, even surface ready for further floor coverings. Laying screed over a large area can be quite difficult, however the use of a self-levelling compound helps to achieve an even, level finish.
Step 6: Mix the self-levelling compound according to the instructions listed on the package. The mix starts to set after about 15 minutes, so if you have a larger floor area, divide it into sections and only mix enough for one section at a time.
Step 7: Spread the self-levelling compound over the floor, starting from the corner furthest from the door.
Step 8: Leave the compound to cure completely before walking on the floor or applying any additional floor coverings. Refer to the instructions on the label for required drying time.
Step 9: We decided to leave the floors to cure fully over the weekend. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of the preparation stage, otherwise you could constantly face issues, such as increasing gaps between the laminate boards, bumps or even cracks.
Step 10: Lay the plastic underlay, ensuring that there are no gaps.
Step 11: Use a craft knife to cut the underlay.
Step 12: The direction in which you start laying the laminate flooring is important. Usually the laminate boards are installed in such a way that the rows are parallel with the light from your windows. Nevertheless, it is not wrong to install the laminate planks starting with the longest wall of the room. Note that the first row should be started with a full board. This is important as this way the boards will be properly locked together and you will waste fewer materials.
Step 13: Note that you should leave a 10mm clearance along each wall, door or any other obstacle as the laminate tends to expand over time. The easiest way to do this is to use small pieces of laminate flooring, which should be used as spacers.
Step 14: Issues may arise especially alongside walls or openings as you might find irregularities there. In order to make a proper cut, you need to take correct measurements.
The first step is to turn the laminate board with the tongue pointing towards the wall. If you have a saw with downward oriented teeth, place the board with its face up, otherwise lay it with the top face down. Pay attention to the fact that when doing that, you should also use the spacers. If you overlook this aspect, you will a get a laminate board that is too large, and you will find it impossible to lock it into position.
The next step is to recreate the cutting set-up to obtain a good, straight cut.
Step 15: Cut the board according to your measurements. The distance between the last row of laminate flooring and the wall, minus the spacer, should be greater than 50mm.
Step 16: Once the measured and trimmed boards are in place at the door opening, install the quarter round onto the existing skirting. At each door opening, cut to size and install an aluminium reducer, the same colour as the quarter rounds, were installed.
Step 17: Because of the screed as well as the height of the floorboards, one of our doors needed 100mm to be trimmed off it so that it could open and close without obstruction. After carefully measuring, we used a circular saw to trim the door.
The quality of your saw blade is essential for a good cut, so do not use dull blades. The replacement of the blade must be done according to manufacturer’s instructions, using safety gloves and only after the tool is unplugged.
The most important aspect is to get the first row extremely straight. If this doesn’t happen, then the installation of the laminate flooring will be compromised. Make sure the first rows are properly aligned, the joints are perfectly sealed and there is no gap between the laminate boards.
Do not apply too much force when clicking the laminate boards into place as you risk damaging the grooves; just try to connect them progressively. Make sure there is no gap between the planks, otherwise tap them gently to close it.
If by any chance two planks are not joined properly, then you have to unlock them carefully and repeat the procedure until you get the desired result. Do not use laminate boards that are damaged as in time their flaws will enhance.
Connect the rows together with great care. Tilt the row at about 45º and connect it to the flooring. Next, the laminate flooring requires a light tap with a mallet in order to secure the connections.
When installing the last row of laminate flooring, slide the last planks at an angle, and then use a pry bar to lay them into place. Make sure there’s a 10mm space between the last row and your wall for your expansion gap.
Always read the instructions for your specific brand of flooring. The above steps are the general steps and some particular types and/or brands of flooring may have special instructions for their installation.