Laminate flooring offers an irresistible combination of style and substance. Choose from a wide selection of tones and textures to achieve anything, from a trendy vibe to a more traditional look. For conscious consumers seeking eco-friendly options, laminates are often made from recycled materials that don’t require harvesting trees.
Note: This How-To can also be used for installing vinyl plank flooring, engineered hardwood flooring, and hardwood flooring* as well.
*Hardwood flooring is not recommended for basements or below grade applications.
Ready to get started? Follow these simple steps to learn how to install laminate flooring in a snap!
Choosing Your Laminate Flooring
No Two Styles Are The Same
Explore all the styles and features that meet your needs. Go ahead and experiment with the latest laminate flooring trends: your options include glossy, smooth, and sophisticated, or rugged, heavy textured, and bold.
When you visit in-store, don’t be afraid to reach out and touch the different finishes available — you’ll even discover laminate flooring with the look and feel of real hardwood. Take small laminate samples home to visualize how it can look with your furnishings.
Not all Flooring Works the Same
When sorting through your options, style is just your starting point. You should also pay attention to thickness and the Abrasion Criteria, or “AC” rating. These are the two key factors for long-lasting laminate floors.
Thickness ranges from 7 mm to 12 mm — in general, the thicker the flooring, the better. Thicker laminate floors are more rigid and, as a result, are easier to lay against uneven subfloors during installation. They’re also a great way to reduce noise.
Based on the Abrasion Rating System, AC ratings represent the durability of your laminate flooring. The higher your AC rating on a scale of one to five, the more resistant it will be to foot traffic, scratches, and stains. For busy areas such as your foyer or kitchen, aim for AC3 and up.
Measure & Multiply
Note: Because the cuts in the flooring need to be staggered, add 10% to the square footage to accommodate these cuts and waste. You will also want some pieces left over just in case you need to repair or replace a board. If your planks are formatted square, add 20 percent.
48 to 72 hours
Now it’s time to start installing!
Installing Your Laminate
The work before the work
What's a Subfloor?
One of the great benefits of laminate flooring is it can be installed over any surface, including vinyl, concrete, ceramic, and plywood. That's the subfloor. Before you start your installation, free your space from obstructions such as staples, nails, dust, and debris. Throughout your removal and installation, wearing knee protection will also avoid any aches and pains later.
Note: If you have concrete flooring, make sure to add a dry core panel as your subfloor, plus a moisture barrier. Adding wood subflooring over concrete will help to allow air circulation underneath and will warm up the floor.
What's an Underlayment?
A foam underlayment can work as a moisture barrier to prevent cupping, gapping, and squeaking due to expansion.
Remove the sticky tape strip on the side (most underlayments should have it), and press it down to secure it in place on the floor.
Randomize Planks & Add Spacers
Carefully inspect all your planks in bright light throughout the installation looking for any defects.
Also, throughout the installation, choose planks from more than one package at a time. This will even out colour variation and avoid too many light or dark planks next to each other.
Starting at the longest wall, add spacers against the wall to create a small gap that allows for expansion and contraction.
It's All About Placement
Place the first boards against the spacers. Each laminate flooring plank has a tongue and groove that fit together and “float” above the underlayment. Stagger them at least 12 in. at a time.
It is very important to build a solid foundation of rows to start all flooring installations. Usually comprised of four rows, these foundation rows make for a solid and secure workspace for the remainder of planks to adhere to.
Tip: Use a paper template for complicated cuts around obstacles like pipes in a kitchen or bathroom.
Caulk & Trimming
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing transition strips and floor moulding.
If you installed a separate underlayment, trim the excess from the perimeter around the floor. Finish it off by attaching your baseboard moulding to the wall, not the floor.
Congratulations! You made it and installed a gorgeous new laminate flooring that will last for years to come!
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