Laminate flooring is an inexpensive alternative to hardwood or tile. Although it looks similar to hardwood or tile, it is easier to maintain and is more durable. It is also better for the environment because it is not made from trees (although you can purchase wood laminate flooring), but consists of thin sheets of paper that has been printed to look like another surface (usually wood) and impregnated with a compound called melamine. Laminate flooring is relatively easy to install, because it floats on the underlying surface rather than being nailed to it.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Tape measure
- Floor taper/set block
- Duct tape
- Pry bar
Measure the room you want to cover, and add 10 per cent for waste.
Remove baseboards from around the room using a pry bar. It might be useful to somehow mark these so you can put them back in the same place.
Sweep the floor clean. Repair any squeaks you may have in the floor, and be sure to remove any stray carpet tacks.
Roll the underlayment or soundproof cushion over the flooring. This usually comes with the flooring and should not have to be purchased separately. Overlap the seams by 3 inches and tape together the seam using duct tape.
Starting in one corner of the room working from left to right, lay the first boards against your starting wall with grooved side facing the wall. The first board in this row is a full board. When you reach the end of the first row, cut the final board to fit.
Make sure to stay 1/8 to 1/4 inch away from the walls, to allow for the occasional expansion that will occur throughout the year. This space will later be covered when you replace the baseboards.
After you finish the first row, begin the second row. The first board in this row should be about 2/3 of a board. Begin to install your flooring by snapping together each piece, then tapping firmly with a hammer and set block. Use care to use enough force to lock the pieces into place, but avoid damaging them. When you come to the final board in the second row, cut it to fit.
Begin the third row. The first board in this row should be 1/3 of a board. Continue installing this row just like the second row.
Continue installing rows until the entire floor is complete. The pattern set up by the first three rows should continue throughout the floor. Make sure that the joints are always at least 8 inches from each other.
Tips and warnings
- Make sure to store your laminate flooring indoors for 48 hours before installation to give the material time to equilibrate to the temperature and humidity of your home.
- Never use a hammer directly on the laminate flooring. Always use a block between the hammer and the flooring.