How to Install Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring

Not since the invention of linoleum has a flooring product captured the hearts and minds of people from all walks of life. Rising from an obscure Swedish manufacturer called Pergo to becoming the most popular flooring surface in American took less than 10 years and now there are thousands of varieties of laminate flooring.

The big draws for laminate flooring is that it is cheap, looks like real wood flooring and doesn't need a professional flooring contractor to install it. In addition it comes in convenient packages and enough flooring to do a regular bedroom can be loaded into the back seat of a car.

Anatomy of Laminate Flooring

  • Wear Layer: The key to a good laminate floor is having a hard surface that resists scratching and dents. The wear layer is a transparent coating made from a cellulose and plastic melamine mix.
  • Design Layer: When you pick out a laminate flooring the pattern we see is the design layer. This is fused to the transparent wear layer and is actually a photograph of real wood.
  • Core Layer: To give the floor heft and strength the core layer is composed of processed particle board.
  • Stabilizing Layer: To hold the laminate plank together is a resin-saturated paper that is made in much the same way as the wear layer. It is also water-proof.
  • Edges: The planks are snapped together to form a tight joint with tabs and grooves milled into them. Most products have a "uni-clic" joint that can be taken apart and refit up to three (3) times.

Buying Laminate Flooring

AC Ratings: Quality-control tests are done on major brands of laminate floor planks that cover such things as a floors resistance to burns, abrasion and stains. These ratings are numerically ranked from 1 to 5. AC 1 is the lowest rating. These products should only be used in areas of light traffic. Most residential flooring will have the AC 2 or 3 ranking. However, the premium floors will be AC 5, an extremely strong flooring product.

Thickness: Some products boast an 8mm thickness while other have a 10mm and these manufacturers will say that "thicker is better." The truth is that thickness is not the only determining factor. A good joining system that guarantees multi-fitting is a better laminate plank as it will be strong enough to be taken part and put back together many times.

How Much? Just like buying tile or other products buy more laminate floor that you think you will need. It is better to have "more" than "not enough" planks. If you are short you may go back to the store only to find that your design has been sold out. Also get more to:

  • Replace mis-cut pieces.
  • Having extra pieces in case of accident
  • You can always return unopened boxes.


For a standard floating floor a roll of thin underlayment should be put down. Not only will this prevent squeaks but adds a cushioning and sound-dampening quality.

Tools For Installing Laminate Floor

When installing a floor make sure you buy the right tools. They are not expensive and you can use them for future jobs:

  • Chop saw (Miter box will do for right-angle cuts)
  • Table saw (Regular saw will do for length-wise cuts if don't have one)
  • Coping saw (For cuts around round objects like pipes)
  • Rubber mallet
  • Installing Kit

- Laminate flooring pull bar (This great tool helps you to get the floor fastened tightly together)

- Spacers

- Bumpers (These are plastic pieces that fit on the edges of the plank so that the edges can be hit with a mallet for tightening and not deform the plank fasting system)

  • Tape Measure
  • Utility knife
  • Hammer
  • Nails

Installing the Floor


  • Prepare the Floor
Pull up old carpet or tile and make sure the subfloor is now smooth. If there are hollows in the floo apply thinset to even out these shallow valleys.

  • Baseboards
Either remove the present baseboards or, more simply, buy strips of quarter-round to place down after the floor has been put done. These will hold the floating floor in place.

  • Doors and Door Jams
Use a coping saw to saw 1/4" to 3/8" off the bottom off door jams so the plank can fit underneath them. If there is a wooden door that is tight-fitting the bottom of the door will have to be cut.

  • Installation
Lay done the underlayment to all parts of the floor sealing the joints with clear tape. Do not overlap.

Start in the corner of the room and put spacers along the two adjoining walls.

Planks should be staggered. Cut one plank in half and use to start the second, fourth and sixth rows ( and so on. The other cut pieces from each plank can be used at the other end

Attach primary cut piece to a first row plank and then the planks should be equally staggered up the rows. The spacers will keep the floor 1/4" away from the walls as you get the floor started. Once the floor is halfway across the floor start the third row. Use the pulling bar to tighten the ends of the planks together and place bumpers on the edges and tap them with a mallet to get the side edges tight.

For objects that stick out, like a pipe, use the coping saw to cut the plank to fit around it.

Reinstall old baseboards or put new ones done but do not nail into the planks. The floor should not be attached to either the baseboard or floor.

For a qualified professional to install your laminate floor consult our Contractor Directory or simply post your project online and a contractor will contact you.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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