Laminate Flooring 'How To' – Scribing Your First Row

Typically laminate flooring instructions will advise you to start laying your laminate along a straight wall-but what if you do not have the luxury of a straight beginning wall? What do you do then? Fold and call in the professionals or hang in there, tough it out and increase your knowledge and sense of accomplishment?

If you choose the latter, scribing the first row is actually fairly simple. You'll need a protractor — remember those funny hinged things you used in math class way back when? And you'll need a jig saw to cut the laminate to the shape of the starting wall.

Begin by assembling the laminate row end-to-end and line it up against the crooked starting wall. Make sure the tongue side of the row length is facing the wall and leave enough room for the expansion gap which should be anywhere from "" to "". (You can allow about an eighth of an inch for the tongue).

The expansion gap is the space you'll need between the laminate and the wall on all sides to allow for the natural expansion and contracting of the floating floor due to changes in temperature and humidity through out the year. If you do not leave a proper gap, your finished floor will buckle.

To recap, you've laid out your first row and lined it up against the starting wall with sufficient space for the expansion gap. Now take your protractor and set the width at the widest point from the wall to the straight row of laminate. Run the protractor along the length of the wall, marking the laminate row on the tongue side with the attached pencil. The pencil marks indicate how you'll cut the laminate pieces to match the wall.

Disassemble the laminate row and cut each piece with a jig saw following the pencil marks on the tongue side. Be sure to reassemble the row in the same order, and lay it out, again leaving space for the expansion gap. Your starting row now matches the crooked starting wall, while the groove side presents a straight line from which to lay the rest of the floor.