The Laminate Flooring Guide

The A to Z of Laminate Flooring

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installing laminate flooring

tips and techniques for installing laminate flooring

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Install laminate flooring yourself can be very rewarding once viewing the completed floor. Installing the laminate flooring planks is the main part of the job which everyone immediately see's, but it is all the smaller detailed items that turn a good floor into a great floor.

Find a room that has been installed with laminate flooring and cast your eye around the floor. For a professional looking job you need to see attention to detail :

  • Are the trims around the edges neatly installed, and are the joints nice and tight ?
  • Is there a correct transition bar in the doorway ?
  • Is the laminate flooring neatly cut around any pipes to radiators, leaving the correct expansion gap, and then covered with a pipe collar ?

Installing laminate flooring correctly is of the utmost importance if you wish to have a long lasting floor, and a warranty that is valid. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing laminate flooring that you have brought. Failure to do so could invalidate any warranty. Any instructions that you read here are to compliment the manufacturer's instructions which take precedence over instructions here. Have a read through our laminate flooring warranties section for more details.

One of the most important things when installing laminate flooring is to have the correct tools for the job. Trying to complete a job that will be seen by countless people without the correct tools will lead to disaster.

Tools required for installing laminate flooring

  • Hammer
  • Craft knife or "Stanley" knife
  • Tape measure
  • T-Square
  • Pencil
  • Handsaw or fine toothed jigsaw/power saw
  • Drill and selection of drill bits for cutting around heating pipes, etc.
  • Manufacturer's installation kit, including: hammer block, spacers, and pull bar
  • Mitre block for cutting trims etc.
  • Sealant gun for applying adhesive's or sealant to trims, etc.
  • Screwdrivers, masonry drill bits, for fixing down transition bars.

preparation is the key

  • All laminate flooring needs to acclimatize in the area where it is going to be installed for at least 48 hours, otherwise it will expand or contract after installation and the floor will be a mess. Place the unopened packs of laminate flooring into the middle of the room and leave for a minimum of 2 days.
  • The base floor must be clean and flat before installing laminate flooring on it. Remove any previous floor coverings and make good any dips or bumps in a way that is applicable to the type of base floor that is present.
  • If installing laminate flooring over a concrete floor then it is extremely important that the concrete is sufficiently dry, having a moisture content less than 2.5% (CM method). If underfloor heating is involved then the moisture content should not exceed 1.5% (CM method).

installing laminate flooring planks

  • When installing laminate flooring over a concrete floor always use a vapour barrier as recommended by the manufacturer. Leave the recommended overlap at any joints. A vapour barrier is not required when installing laminate flooring on top of a wooden floor.
  • The minimum specification for underlay is the standard foam underlay. When joints are required, edges should be butted together and not overlapped. It does not matter which way the underlay is laid, either the same way as the planks or at right angles to them. Have a look at more laminate underlay.
  • When installing laminate flooring it is better to lay the planks in the direction the light falls which would be at right angles to the window. This makes the joints less visible. However in some situations it is better to lay the planks in the same direction as the longest wall, in the end it comes down to personal choice.
  • The correct way of installing laminate flooring is to lay the tongue of the board you are holding, into the groove of the board that has already been installed on the floor.
  • Make sure the first two rows of planks are straight. Place spacers between the planks and the wall to give the required expansion gap. This will also even out any discrepancies in the wall, so in some places the gap may be larger than what is required for the expansion gap. This will be covered by the trim or skirting later.
  • When cutting the laminate flooring planks, cut the plank "face up" if using a hand saw or circular saw. If you are using a jigsaw with a standard blade then cut the laminate flooring planks with the face downwards. This will avoid chipping of the laminate surface.

installing the detail items

  • Install the correct transition bar in doorways or where the flooring type changes, i.e. open plan rooms. The type of bar depends on what sort of floor covering the laminate flooring is butting up to; carpet, tile, laminate flooring, real wood flooring, etc. Fix the bar according to the manufacturer's instructions and when installing the laminate flooring, remember to leave the correct expansion gap against the transition bar. Have a look at different laminate flooring transition bars.
  • When cutting around pipes mark the center of the hole required, and then drill a hole the size of the pipe plus the width of the expansion gap required for each side of the pipe. Mark a line going from one side of the hole to the edge of the board at a slight angle outwards, and repeat for the other side of the hole. Using a fine toothed hand saw cut along the two lines and remove the piece of laminate flooring but don't throw it away. Start installing laminate flooring plank into its position in the room, around the pipe. Take the small piece of laminate flooring that was cut out, and place a small amount of adhesive on the two edges that where just cut, taking care not to get any adhesive on the bottom of the small piece. Carefully position into place around the other side of the pipe and wipe of any excess adhesive. Then place a pipe collar of the same colour as the laminate flooring around the pipe and slide down onto the laminate flooring to cover the expansion gap.Cutting around pipes in laminate flooring
  • Remove all of the spacer blocks from the laminate flooring and start installing the trim using either adhesive or small pins. Only fix the edge that is against the wall and not the edge that is against the laminate flooring. The flooring needs to expand and contract through changes in the temperature and humidity levels. If the trim is stuck to both wall and floor, this will cause the flooring to buckle and "open-up".
  • Pay attention to the corner joints and make sure they are nice and tight. This will make the finished job a more professional installation. This also applies to straight joints where two lengths of trim meet "end on".
  • If using skirting base board, install the base board clips as per the manufacturer's instructions. Then just push the skirting onto the clips. Again, pay attention to any corner joints or straight joints.
  • If there are any area's where trim or skirting boards cannot be installed, the expansion gap needs to be filled with a flexible sealant.

Following these points when installing laminate flooring, and taking your time to get things right, should produce a professional looking installation.

Take a step back and admire your workmanship.


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Installing Laminate Flooring