2 Laying the Floor
Every manufacturer of laminate flooring provides very specific instructions on the proper method of installing their product. There are, however, some common rules that apply to the installation of any laminate floor.
a. Unroll the foam underlayment in the direction the planks will run. It usually comes in 36″ or 42″ wide rolls. Do not overlap the foam edges or adhere the foam to the floor. Tape the edges of the rolls together with duct tape.
Note: If you are putting the laminate directly on top of a concrete floor, first put down a plastic sheet to act as a vapor barrier, before putting down the foam underlay.
b. You probably will need to modify your doorframes for the height of the new laminate flooring. Check by laying a piece of the flooring on top of the underlay and see if it fits below the jamb and or casing. If not, take a piece of the flooring and lay it upside down on the sub-floor next to the frame and using a hand saw laying on the piece of laminate cut the frame so the flooring can slide under it.
c. Now as I mentioned earlier, measure across the room to determine if you need to rip the first plank. You want to end up with the pieces on the finishing side of the room approximately 2” wide minimum.
d. Beginning at the left side of the room, install the first board with the tongue side to the wall. If you do need to rip the first row of boards to width, cut the tongue side off. You need to leave a 1/4″ gap between the flooring and the wall all the way around the room to allow for minor seasonal variations in the boards themselves. So use spacers to maintain a 1/4″ gap between the flooring and the wall.
e. Cut the last piece in the first row, leaving a 1/4-inch space at the end. Use a pry bar to push the planks tightly together
f. You want to make sure that the end joints are always at least 8″ from each other. So after you lay out the first row check the cut off to start the next row but make sure it is at least 8” from the other end joint or cut it enough to get that 8” stagger. This is a great way to use up all the wastage.
g. For all subsequent rows, make sure you stagger the boards 8” so the end seams don’t line up. Join the boards together by inserting the tongue into the groove at a high angle and then pushing down. This will cause the boards to click together. Sometimes you may have to tap gently with a hammer and the tapping block to make the boards lock together. Never use a hammer directly on the pieces of laminate as you could damage the edge of a piece so badly nothing will be able to fit with it.
h. When you are working close to the wall using a pry bar helps snap the boards together.
i. Ripsaw the grove edge of the last plank 1/4 inch narrower than the remaining gap. Using the same technique as before snap and pry the pieces into place.
Note: You can cut laminate flooring with a chop saw, circular saw with a fine tooth blade or a jig saw. When using a power saw to cut the laminate place the laminate good side down, to reduce tear out on the cuts.
3 Finishing up
a. Once the floor is down, remove the spacers and reinstall your baseboards and moldings, making sure you nail them to the wall and not the laminate flooring. This will cover that 1/4-inch gap you left around the perimeter of the room. This allows the floor to expand and contract with changes in humidity.
b. You may also want to install a base shoe or quarter round on top of the laminate to cover wider gaps but do not nail through the laminate only into your baseboards.
Now step back and admire your hard work. Congratulations, the end result is a beautiful floor that is sure to add style to your home and last for many years.
Below is a video by one of the manufacturers making laminate flooring. Have a look, it really is quite good. Though the underlayment is different than I describe.