How to Lay Laminate Flooring Step-By-Step

Laminate has been a popular floor covering for decades because it’s easy to install yourself and gives your home the same warm look and feel of wood at about half the cost.

Laminate flooring floats! You won’t need to use glue or adhesives – laminate flooring planks simply snap together and the underlayment and baseboards keep them in place.

Durable, scratchproof, and water resistant, laminate flooring is easy to clean and maintain, making it attractive and practical for busy households with children and pets. Emerge2 offers laminate in many wood grains and shades that look and feel like the real thing.

How easy is it to install laminate by yourself?

Laying laminate flooring is ideal for the intermediate level DIYer, but beginners will also be able to handle this job. Take time to read the instructions, and look at a few tutorial videos to get a clear idea of what it will involve.

You’ll need the right tools, as well as the time and patience to measure carefully and double check everything before cutting the laminate planks.

Tools and materials needed:

Safety equipment

  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Knee pads

Flooring material

  • Laminate flooring
  • Foam underlayment (if not attached to the laminate flooring planks)
  • Vapor barrier (if laying on a concrete floor)
  • Some laminate flooring includes an installation kit with spacers and a tapping block

Tools

  • Saw – circular, table, saber or hand saw
  • Carbide blade
  • ¼” spacers
  • Pull bar
  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil, chalk
  • Caulking
  • Finishing nails

Step 1 - Measure your room

First, accurately measure your room to get the square footage. Add 10% to allow for any wastage or errors. The planks need to be at least two inches (approx. 50 mm) wide in order to stay in place, so be aware of any adjustments you will need to make ahead of time.

Step 2 - Choose and order your laminate flooring

Look at laminate flooring samples in person to help you choose the flooring you want. You’ll have a choice of color, woodgrain, thickness, width, underlayment attached or not, and the quality you are looking for. There are many eco-friendly laminates available that are responsibly manufactured and made of materials that can be recycled.

Step 3 - Acclimate the planks

Leave the planks in their packaging and lay them flat on the floor in the room they will be installed in for about two days.

Step 4 - Prepare the subfloor

Your subfloor should be smooth and clean, so repair any holes or cracks, and remove nails from wood floors.

If you are thinking of installing the laminate planks on top of another floor covering, check if this will give you the best result. Some flooring materials, such as ceramic tiles or cork, can have laminate installed on top, but others such as carpeting are not ideal.

Remove baseboards and trim.

Step 5 - Install underlayment (skip this step if your floor planks have an underlayment attached)

Carefully roll out the underlayment along the floor beside the first wall you will be working on. Pull tightly to remove any wrinkles and avoid overlapping seams. Concrete floors or rooms with high humidity will need a vapor barrier underneath the overlayment.

Decide which direction to place the laminate planks. You may want to have the same direction throughout your home or if you are laying laminate in one room only, decide which direction you prefer.

Step 6 - Dealing with door jambs

Simply cutting laminate to fit around the door jambs is not the best way to achieve a professional, finished look. But there is a solution:

  1. Cut the bottom of the door jambs by at least 1” to provide space for the laminate plank to slide into.
  2. Place a plank upside down beside the door jamb on the underlayment.
  3. Put your undercutting saw on the plank and cut at least 1” into the door jamb.
  4. Dig out the cut wood pieces with a screwdriver.
  5. Remove any molding on the baseboard.
  6. Slide the plank into the space you have cut and cover it with molding.

Step 7 - Cutting laminate flooring planks

Staggering lengths will give your floors a more attractive appearance. Follow the manufacturer’s suggested cutting length for the best effect. You can also come up with your own pattern; for example, one full length, then half length, then a quarter length.

It is recommended to cut laminate with the finished side up.

Step 8 - Lay your first row of laminate

Put ¼” spacers against the wall to allow space for expansion in fluctuating temperatures and humidity. This will prevent your floors from buckling. You will need to remove the spacers when you have finished installing all the planks.

Each laminate floor manufacturer has their own system of locking the planks in place, so follow their directions for best results.

Cut the end piece of the plank about ?” to ?” away from the wall to allow for expansion. Lay the first row of planks parallel to the wall you have chosen to start with. If needed, you can trim the tongues off the boards in the first row.

Use a full-length plank with the groove facing out, away from the wall. Now insert the plank you cut for the second row into the groove. Push the planks together until they snap into place.

Finish laying the planks in the first two rows. Gently tap the sides of the planks until they lock together

Step 9 - Continue installing planks

Roll out the underlayment as you need it without overlapping. Now is also a good time to put a spacer on the far wall.

Continue placing the planks in a staggered pattern until you reach the last one in the row. Tap the planks in place with a tapping block or a pull bar to prevent gaps between the planks.

Place the end planks in the remaining space using a hammer and pull bar.

Step 10 - Finishing touches

Remove the spacers from against the walls and replace molding or quarter round if needed.

You may discover some gaps in the planks next to the wall that are visible after the molding is attached. This can happen if the walls are uneven and the resulting gaps are wider than the baseboard can cover. You can solve this by trimming the plank to make it fit with the wall. Add 1” to the largest gap, draw a line on the plank and cut with a saber saw. Slide the trimmed planks back against the spacers.

Caulk the molding and baseboard edges as needed. Install a transition piece at doorways between rooms.

Now enjoy your new laminate floor!

Should you need any help with choosing materials for your next renovation, come to Emerge2, we're always ready to assist you.