Fashionable floors establish your unique style from the bottom up. From the kitchen renovation to the bathroom upgrade, laminate flooring is a popular choice due to its affordability, low maintenance, and easy installation.

Steps
12
Difficulty
Moderate
Time Required
8hours/room
Estimated Cost
$$$
Living in a full house with kids and grownups that are always on the go? Laminate floors are built to last because they are tough enough to hold their own for years in high traffic spaces. If surprise messes pop up, there’s no need to panic — spills, fades, and stains are quick and simple to clean.

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!

What You Need for This Project

Tools

Materials

Choosing Your Laminate Flooring

Picking Your Style

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.

Technical Features to Look For

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.

How Much Flooring should I get?

Measure & Multiply

In order to determine the square footage of the room where you will be installing your flooring, use a tape measure to determine the room’s length and width. Multiply the length by the width to determine your square footage. For example, a room that is 10 ft by 10 ft is 10 x 10 or 100 sq. ft.
 
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.
Acclimate Your Laminate

48 to 72 hours

Now that you’ve purchased your flooring, check your manufacturer’s instructions. Some may recommend to leave your laminate flooring package in the room for a certain period of time. Your planks will acclimate to humidity and room temperature to avoid gaps or buckling in your flooring later. 

Now it’s time to start installing!

Installing Your Laminate

Prep Your Project Area

The work before the work

Remove your baseboards and pull up your carpet (if you have it). Be careful when tearing out tack strips with sharp nails around the perimeter of the room. It’s important that your subfloor is smooth and flat so that when you lay your laminate flooring, it can be flush without bending or “slapping” when you walk over it. If there are perceptible dips or depressions, use leveling compound to get your floor level.
Prep Your Subfloor

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.
Install Underlayment

What's an Underlayment?

Underlayment is a layer of material that is placed above your subflooring and below your laminate floor. This is a necessary step when installing any type of flooring, as it helps absorb noise and smooth out any subfloor imperfections. Some laminate flooring has underlayment pads pre-attached for convenience.

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.
 
Getting Ready to Install

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. 

Installing the First Row

It's All About Placement

First row planks should have the tongue side facing the wall. Always allows a ⅜ in. to ⅝ in. gap at each end for floor expansion.  

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. 
Custom Cuts

Custom Cuts

If you encounter barriers such as door frames, vents, or cabinets, each will require different techniques and tools to address. Straight cuts around cabinets can be managed by chop saws. However, cuts around pipers required a jigsaw. 

Tip: Use a paper template for complicated cuts around obstacles like pipes in a kitchen or bathroom.
Installing the Final Row

Pull!

With one final row to go, measure the distance between the wall and the last row, minus the expansion gap. Now you know the width needed for the final row. When marking the cut line on your plank, it’s very important to not measure from the tongue. Cut the plank along the line and, if needed, insert the last row with a pull bar.
Finishing Touches

Caulk & Trimming

If you’re installing laminate flooring to your bathroom, apply silicone caulk around your tub, pipes, or toilet for a water-tight seal. 

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!

HELP IS ON THE WAY

Not everyone wants to take on a major project like installing laminate flooring. If you think this How-To is TOO MUCH, let Lowe's install your new flooring for you. Our professional installers will finish the job perfectly, on budget and on time.

Call us at 1-888-98LOWES (56937)

How To Terms

Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes, and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors, or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures.

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