How to Determine How Much Laminate Flooring One Needs

Written by michael logan
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How to Determine How Much Laminate Flooring One Needs
Installing Laminate Flooring (Photo by Daniel Hendricks, Illustration by MJ Logan)

Laminate flooring differs from solid wood flooring or hardwood flooring in that it is constructed of layers, or laminates. The top layer is either a real wood veneer or a facsimile photo layer. Better laminate flooring is made from real wood, glued together in layers, cut and then machined to size. The first step in any flooring installation is determining how much new flooring material to purchase. After that, find the flooring that suits your needs and fits your budget.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • 8 1/2 by 11 by 1/4-inch graph paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Calculator

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Measure each room's length and width. This is simple for rectangular rooms. Closets, nooks or other parts that don't fit into a room's main rectangle must be measured separately.

  2. 2

    Measure each room's length and width. This is simple for rectangular rooms. Closets, nooks or other parts that don't fit into a room's main rectangle must be measured separately.

    How to Determine How Much Laminate Flooring One Needs
    Sketch rooms with corners and odd angles to make calculating area easier.
  3. 3

    Sketch rooms that are not rectangles on graph paper. Pick a scale and stick with it. For example, one square equals one foot or one square equals one quarter foot. Measure along each wall, adding each to the sketch as you go along. Be sure to include closets, under appliances and furniture so that all areas are included.

  4. 4

    Calculate each rectangular area. Multiply the length by the width of each area and write the result in each area on the sketch. Sometimes, using the area of a triangle is useful, which is: 1/2(base multiplied by height).

  5. 5

    Add all the areas calculated in Step 3. This is the total square footage for the flooring project; however, it is not all the material you will need to buy.

  6. 6

    Add 5- to 10-percent to the total footage calculated in Step 4. A room or rooms with odd angles on walls will require more flooring than one that does not. See the Tips below for some other considerations on determining how much laminate flooring you'll need for your project. Five per cent is usually enough, but sometimes 10 is necessary.

Tips and warnings

  • When flooring a triangular area, there is more waste than when flooring a square or rectangular area. Look at point X in the illustration. Although the final piece here will be small, it will require an entire plank of flooring to cut it and all but the used piece is waste. Add 5-percent to the area of the triangular area before adding up all the areas. That way, you only add in for additional waste to the area that requires it, not the entire floor.
  • Be sure to check your manufacturer's requirements for installing long runs if you have large rooms. Long runs may require an expansion strip with T-Mold in the middle somewhere.
  • You don't have to sketch out every room. Just those that could get confusing. The illustration room required a sketch because of all the different areas that adjoined.
  • Having an extra box of flooring left over or even a few planks is a good idea. If a piece gets damaged, you won't have to replace the entire floor if the pattern or grain is out of stock or discontinued. You can take a piece that was left over and make a repair.
  • Rooms with curved walls are special cases. Treat them like triangles, but when calculating the area, use (width times height) multiplied by 1.75. Add in 5-percent (for shallow curves) or 10-percent (for sharp curves) before adding to the total footage.
  • Don't forget your transition strips. Anytime the floor changes to a different flooring, you'll need a transition strip. Mark doorways or other areas and buy the correct type of transition strip for each one. On the illustration, these are marked with a green "T".
  • It is tempting to cut it close when purchasing flooring. But consider this: The new flooring must acclimate for 24 to 72 hours before installation in the room where it will be installed. Do you really want to have to stop work, run out and buy more flooring, and have wait 1 to 3 days for it acclimate again before you continue? Buy enough to begin with and your job will go smoother and easier.
  • Don't skimp on vapour barriers or foam underlayments. Always use a 6ml plastic vapour barrier, even if the location doesn't require it. Foam underlayment is important to the feel of a laminate floating floor. Don't try to do without or use a thinner underlayment than required.

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