How to lay laminate flooring with a proper layout

Written by billy brainard
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How to lay laminate flooring with a proper layout
Laminate Flooring (Floor image by Einar Bog from

Laminate flooring has become popular among homeowners as a budget friendly way to update or upgrade flooring in a room or the entire house. With the locking tongue and groove assembly, most installation projects are complete in one to two days. This locking system allows the floor to 'float' or expand and contract as needed when the temperature changes. The ideal way to assemble a laminate flooring system is to run the laminate planks parallel to the light coming in through a room window, giving the floor a natural look.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Wet dry vacuum machine
  • Utility knife
  • Laminate floor underlayment material
  • Underlayment tape
  • 1 Box 1/4-inch spacers
  • Laminate floor
  • Measuring tape
  • Electric compound mitre saw
  • Hammer
  • Quarter round moulding
  • 1 box, 2-inch nails

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  1. 1

    Clear out or pull up any old flooring or carpet located in the room where the laminate will be installed. Vacuum up any debris, sand or dirt so the surface is perfectly clean.

  2. 2

    Begin in any corner of the room and roll out a section of the underlayment until you reach the opposite wall, and cut the underlayment to fit. Roll out the underlayment so that it runs perpendicular to the light coming in the window. This will prevent the underlayment seams from lining up with the laminate seams which will run parallel to the light. Begin back at the starting wall, and roll out a second strip of underlayment to the opposite wall. Abut the edge of the second roll to the edge of the first roll. Repeat this step until the entire floor is covered with the underlayment.

  3. 3

    Tape each of the underlayment seams together using the sealing underlayment tape. This will help strengthen the moisture resistant effectiveness of the underlayment. The underlayment will not only provide a sound absorbing damper, but also a moisture barrier to prevent any moisture from rising up through the subfloor and reaching the laminate.

  4. 4

    Place the 1/4-inch spacers around the room so that they are about 10 inches apart and up against the baseboard on the wall. These will help maintain the 1/4-inch gap around the wall to allow the laminate floor to expand and shrink as needed with the temperature.

  5. 5

    Lay the first row of laminate. Begin in the corner of the room with the longest wall, and lay the first piece of laminate so that it runs parallel with the light coming through the window. Lay the laminate so the groove in the edge is facing the wall and the tongue is facing the open room.

  6. 6

    Attach a second piece of laminate to the end of the first, by sliding the groove on the end of the second piece into the tongue on the end of the fist piece, to lock them together. Repeat this step to attach additional pieces of laminate to complete the first row. Measure and cut the last piece to fit as needed, while allowing room for the spacer.

  7. 7

    Begin a second row and lock it together with the first. Cut the end of the first piece of laminate for the second row so that it is about 10 inches shorter that the first piece of laminate in the first row to offset the seams. Attach additional pieces of laminate to the second row until you reach the opposite wall, and cut the last piece to fit. Repeat this step to add additional rows until the floor is completely covered.

  8. 8

    Continue to offset the first piece of laminate for each row as needed so the seams will be offset. When you reach the point where the first piece of laminate would be shorter than 10 inches, start over with a full length of laminate.

  9. 9

    Attach the quarter round moulding along the bottom of the wall to hide the 1/4-inch gap. Start in one corner and work your way around the room, cutting the pieces as needed. Nail the moulding to the wall and not the floor. Use the hammer, and gently drive the nails through the moulding and into the wall.

Tips and warnings

  • For best results, complete this project during full daylight, so you will be able to determine the direction the natural light enters the window as you lay the flooring.
  • It is helpful to have an assistant to assemble each row of laminate to the previous row, as you lock the tongue and grooves together.
  • As an option, you can cut the moulding at a 45 degree angle using the mitre saw, where the moulding strips meet in the corners of the room.
  • Use extreme caution to avoid injury when operating the power saw, as the blades are very sharp.

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