In this post: Step-by-Step tutorial on how to install laminate flooring in your home!
A while ago we showed you our gorgeous new Lumber Liquidators laminate flooring at our backsplit. Gah – so pretty! Today we’re going to show you how to install laminate flooring, plus some tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way as DIYers.
We also shared why we chose Lumber Liquidators for our flooring in this Facebook post on Friday.
Table of Contents
Step-by-Step Laminate Flooring Installation
- laminate flooring (enough for your space plus about 10% more for off-cuts, mistakes and waste)
- laminate installation kit (including plastic tapping block, a pulling bar, and spacers)
- mitre saw
- measuring tape
- safety glasses
- dust mask (optional)
- knee pads (optional)
- furniture slides/felt pads
Step 1 – Wait 48 Hours
We know – waiting is the worst part! But it’s been said that new laminate flooring needs to “acclimate” to the space in which it’s going to be installed by sitting (in the boxes) for 48 hours. We’re not ones to argue with a “rule” that may very well mean the difference between gorgeous floors and thousands of dollars of useless materials!
OPTIONAL Step 2 – Trim Bottom of Door Jambs & Deal With Existing Baseboards
If your space has existing door jambs, you can create a cleaner look to your new floor install if you trim the bottom of the jambs so that the laminate can slide neatly underneath. Using a piece of laminate as a guide, butt it up against the jamb. Mark the jamb with a pencil and trim the jamb with a flat handsaw parallel to the sub floor.
If you already have baseboards in the room, you can do one of two things:
- Remove the baseboards and either reuse or replace them after you install your laminate
- Leave the baseboards and install large quarter round to cover the gap (Step 9)
We didn’t have any door jambs for our install and we replaced the old baseboards with new ones after the laminate was installed.
Step 3 – Clear the Room and Clean Up
You obviously need space to work and your sub floor must be clean and free of dust & debris before you begin laying your new laminate flooring. So sweep up, vacuum, do whatever is necessary to create a clean smooth surface.
OPTIONAL Step 4 – Install Vapor Barrier
If you are installing laminate in a basement, please install vapor barrier before you lay your laminate to help with moisture control. Lumber Liquidators Customer Care Team recommends the following:
A 6 to 8 mil poly sheeting moisture barrier should be laid for floating floors for an On or Below Grade Concrete subfloor. Overlap seams 4″ and tape with duct tape. Overlay perimeter 3-4″ up wall.
Our install was on our main floor, so this step wasn’t necessary for us.
OPTIONAL Step 5 – Install Underlayment/Underpad
If you do not choose a laminate floor with attached underpad, YOU NEED TO INSTALL AN UNDERPAD FIRST!
The underpad will save you from having to re-install your brand new flooring because it smoothes out minor sub-floor imperfections, among other things. You pretty much need to trust us on this!
Ask your manufacturer what underlayment/underpad is suitable for your particular space and choice of laminate.
Again, we skipped this step because our choice of laminate had an attached 3mm underpad.
Step 6 – Install the First Row of Laminate
There is some argument about which way you should lay your floor. Some people say to install it opposite the flow of traffic – so that the same piece(s) aren’t walked on repeatedly day after day. Others say to lay it so that the room looks larger – so parallel to the shortest wall. Really the choice is yours. We’ve done it both ways.
Your first row will set the stage for the rest of the room’s flooring. The most important piece of advice we can give you here is LEAVE A 1/2″ GAP (use spacers) at the wall (so, on three sides). Laminate floors are floating floors and are subject to expansion and contraction. Leaving the gap will prevent buckling – and it will be covered by the baseboards so no one will be the wiser when you’re all finished.
Your first row will have the groove side against the wall. And don’t forget the 1/2″ gap at each end too!
Step 7 – Install the Rest of the Laminate Flooring
This is where the optional knee pads may come in handy!
Each new row will have to be a complete row before you attach it to the row before. In other words, lay out pieces to make a full row (staggering seams for strength and visual interest) and join those pieces together before you attach it to the previous row.
Then align the tongue and groove and tap row in place using the hammer and tapping block. In all honestly this may take some finessing. We had some really long rows that extended all the way from the living room through the dining room too. In those cases I would hold one end in place to keep the seams from separating while Dean tapped the other end into place.
You can use the off-cut of the previous row to start the next row to help with the random seam staggering.
Repeat, repeat, repeat…
Step 8 – Install the Final Row of Laminate
This last row will likely have to be “ripped” to fit in place. Measure carefully and don’t forget your 1/2″ gap! Trim and install using the pulling bar to help with the fit.
Step 9 – The Finishing Touches (Baseboards, Stairnose & Thresholds)
So far the room will be looking pretty good sporting its new laminate. But this last step is where it is really finished.
Remove the spacers and install baseboards (and in some cases quarter round) around your room’s perimeter.
Next install any necessary stair nose. This gets glued down, FYI!
Finally, install thresholds where your new laminate meets a different type of flooring or in any doorways, etc. Some thresholds will just cover the gap and will sort of look like a T shape when you look at the end. Some will bridge the gap between a slightly higher or lower adjoining floor.
The laminate we chose didn’t actually have matching thresholds, so we bought unfinished thresholds and stained them to match (in our case three coats of Minwax Dark Walnut did the trick).
Some Tips for Installing Laminate
- Make sure your subfloor is level. If you’re installing laminate over uneven concrete, use a self-leveler to even it out before you install the underlayment/underpad.
- Some laminates are perfectly acceptable to install in kitchens and bathrooms. Just ask the manufacturer.
- Put felt pads on all furniture “feet” before placing on newly installed laminate flooring.
- If your particular laminate has different instructions, obviously follow those!
- When cutting planks, use appropriate safety gear (safety glasses, dust mask, etc).
Have you ever installed laminate flooring? How did it go? What’s your favorite laminate look – wide plank? Light wood? Dark? Rustic? Modern? What does your dream floor look like?
*Disclosure: Lumber Liquidators generously gave us flooring in exchange for posting about their awesomeness.They did not tell us what flooring to choose or what to say. We were quite pleased with our LL flooring in our last house (that we PURCHASED) and are over-the-moon thrilled about our new Lumber Liquidators flooring in this house. We trust you all know by now that we wouldn’t post about or recommend anything we don’t love.