How to Lay Laminate Flooring

In this article we intend to condense how to lay laminate flooring into six easy steps that you can follow at home. Remember, if you're not sure how to lay laminate flooring and of your DIY skills in general, it is always a good idea to ask a more experienced friend if they can help you out – even if it's just to get you off on the right foot. The process of laying laminate flooring has evolved along the technological advances with the actual floor boards themselves, and is a perfectly achievable task for even the most humble DIY enthusiast. One important thing to remember before we get started with our how to lay laminate flooring guide is to ensure your laminate flooring has been left in the environment you plan to install them in for at least 48 hours before you start laying. This is very important, as the boards must be allowed to acclimatise to the new room temperature and humidity levels it will be exposed to. The boards themselves will then expand or contract accordingly during this period. In addition to this, you also need to make sure the surface of the floor is thoroughly cleaned, and all dust and debris is removed. Any debris left on the floor surface could cause an inconsistency when you come to lay the tiles as it may alter the level of the sub-floor.

Okay, let's begin our guide to how to lay laminate flooring:

Step 1 – what you'll need

You will find the following equipment and materials very useful, if not essential in most cases:

  • a laminate cutter
  • tile spacers
  • knee pads
  • safety glasses
  • a pencil
  • set square
  • gaffa tape
  • a hammer
  • a sharp craft knife
  • a pulling bar
  • tapping block
  • foam underlay

Step 2 – measuring for your laminate floor

In order to purchase the correct amount of laminate flooring, you'll need to find out the total square area that you require covered. Thankfully laminate flooring incoming in packs (which vary in the quantity of boards that contain depending on the type you purchase), which indicate both the individual board size of the panels, as well as the overall area covered per pack. Therefore, to calculate how many packs of laminate flooring you'll need for your project you'll need to first multiply the width by the depth of your room. This will give you your squared area size. If your room is not completely square or rectangular, simply divide your space up into smaller areas that can be squared off. Now take your new area size and divide it by the area covered as indicated on the packs of your chosen type of laminate flooring. This will now give you a figure which is equal to the number of packs you'll need to purchase to cover your area.

It's important to purchase 10% extra boards than you'll need just in case you make any mistakes, or there's been any miscalculations. This will avoid the project being potentially held up, or a situation where you realize you need more boards, but they're out of stock or discontinued.

Step 3 – marking out your floor

Whilst you do need need to mark out where you will lay each laminate board as you would with laying tiles, it is very important to determine how you will lay your first row, and to get this right. For this reason, before we move onto laying the underlay, decide now where you will begin laying your first row of laminate, and the direction the boards will be going in. It's always advisable to start laying your flooring in the lightest part of the room. Once you have decided where your first row will go, lay your row as a trial, remembering to use spacers between the boards and the skirting board. This trial row will help determine how much of the end-row board you will need cut off in order to make the floor fit. This is useful to plan in advance since you should avoid a situation where you are having to cut more than 50% of the depth of the board away (the short side), or less than 400mm of the width of the board away (the long side). This is because it will compromise the strength of your floor.

Step 4 – laying underlay

Begin laying your underlay by first ensuring you have your spacers in place, and you are laying the rolls at a 90 degree angle to the way you will lay your laminate boards; This is to prevent the seams between the pieces of underlay ever corresponding to the joins between the piece of laminate flooring. As you lay the underlay, make sure there is no gap or overlap between the sections as either of these might cause the laminate boards to sink or stand proud. The goal here is a nice consistent surface. Tape down the joins between the sections with a bit of masking tape to hold them in place.

Step 5 – laying laminate flooring

Now you come to actually laying the laminate flooring itself. Following the layout you already worked out in Step 3, beginning laying your laminate flooring remembering to keep the spacers in place between the laminate flooring and the skirting board to allow for expansion. If you're using tongue and groove laminate flooring, simply introduce each new board at a 45 degree angle to the previous one, and gently lower the new board in place. You should feel the tongue click into the groove, and the boards should sit flush with each other. It is advisable to use a pulling bar and a beating block to help encourage each board into place after you've laid it. Pulling bars are used when you reach the end of a row and do not have sufficient space to use a beating block.

When you come to cut your end-of-row boards, the easiest way to do this is to lay the board in position where you intend to place it, ad mark on either side when a cut will need to be made. Using your set square, join the marks up to give you a nice straight cutting line. Using your laminate cutter, or the saw you have available, cut your laminate board, first checking which side of the board should be facing upward to minimize damage (this will depend on the type of saw you're using). Do not forget to wear safety protection while you do this.

Step 6 – applying the finishing touches

If possible, leave your newly laid floor for 48 hours before adding any finishing touches such as trims, scotias, or transition bars. This will give the flooring extra time to acclimatise to the room, and this is where that 10mm gap we left between the flooring and the skirting boards comes into play, allowing the flooring to expand without running out of space.

Cutting trims and scotias for navigating around corners is made easier with a mitre box that will help you cut perfect angled cuts. In addition to this, you can use transition bars between your new floor, and other floor surfaces that meet in doorways for example. These are easy to fit, and help form a clean transition.

Congratulations! You now know how to lay laminate flooring!