Laminate flooring is one of the easiest types of flooring to install but it does involve some challenging procedures that require attention to detail. Fitting it around a stone fireplace is one. If you want the floor to look its best you have to make accurate cuts because you won't be able to hide mistakes with baseboard or trim. Make a cutting template out of stiff paper -- masking paper works well -- and use it to mark the cutlines on the ends of the boards.
Unroll enough masking paper from a roll to stretch across the face of the fireplace or hearth from one side to the other. Allow about 6 to 10 extra inches to fit around the sides of the fireplace. Cut it from the roll with a utility knife.
Measure the distance from the front of the fireplace to the wall behind it with a tape measure and make marks on the masking paper along its length that are the same distance from one of the edges. Fold the paper lengthwise on the marks.
Place the folded paper on the floor in front of the fireplace so that the width you measured is vertical and push the fold into the corner made by the bottom of the fireplace and the floor.
Cut out the outline of the front of the fireplace carefully with a sharp utility knife, starting about 1/2 inch from one corner and finishing about 1/2 inch from the other. Lay the paper flat and cut perpendicular lines from each corner to the edge and remove the cut-out.
Place the U-shaped template back against the fireplace. Cut out the remaining 1/2 inch at either corner, unfold the paper towards the wall and push it into the corners made by the sides of the fireplace and the floor. Cut out the outlines of the sides of the fireplace.
Install the floor until you come to the first piece that fits against the fireplace. Measure the distances from the edge of the board in the preceding course to the corner of the fireplace and from the wall to the corner.
Measure these same distances on the board you're going to install, taking them from the edge farthest from the fireplace and from the end that will be against the wall. Make a mark on the face of the board where the distances intersect. The mark corresponds to the corner of the fireplace.
Place the template on the board so that the cutout for the corner of the fireplace is on the mark, Trace a line along the template with a pencil and cut along the line with a jigsaw. Snap the board into the rest of the floor. Part of it will span a section of the front of the fireplace.
Measure the length of this section from the corner and then measure the same length from the corner of the template. Cut the template in two at this point and discard the part of the template that you just used.
Continue installing the floor, using the template to mark and cut the ends that fit against the fireplace. Each time you install a board, mark the width of the board from the edge of the template, cut it in two on the mark and discard the part you used.
Use the template as a reference to cut a notch from the board that fits around the far corner, then snap the board into the rest of the floor.
When you cut the first board to fit around the corner of the fireplace, you may have to make the gap between it and the side of the fireplace a little wide so you have room to manoeuvre the board into position. You can hide this gap with caulk that is the same colour as the flooring. You can also use the caulk to fill gaps that you inadvertently cut too wide. Install the flooring from the wall with the fireplace and working towards the opposite wall to make it easier to fit the boards in place.
Wear safety glasses when cutting laminate flooring. It contains plastic that can shoot out from the saw and damage your eyes.