Do it yourself!

Friday, August 29, 2008

How To Lay Laminate Flooring



Measure the room’s length and width and multiply them to get the amount of square footage in the room.  Add 5-10% for waste and this will be how much laminate you will need to lay the floor.  It is very important that the laminate has as least 48-72 hours to acclimate in the room it will be laid or it may buckle or crack after installation.  Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Prepping the floor

  1.   Take up the existing floor such as carpet and tack strip.  Some manufactures will allow installation over vinyl, ceramic tile, very low pile carpet (1/4” or less with no pad) etc. and still stand behind their warranty.  Contact the manufacturer to be sure.
  3. Remove Base molding.  Use a utility knife to slice the paint in the corner of molding and walls.  Next use a pry bar to pry the molding using light taps with a hammer and working a little a time.  If you are careful this molding can be reused after the laminate is laid.
  5.   Undercut the door jambs and open casings.  This allows the laminate to fit under it for a seamless look.  To get the height set a scrap piece of laminate on a piece underlayment, mark the jambs with a pencil and use an undercut saw or coping saw to cut.
  7. Inspect the subfloor.  Any pits in the subfloor need to be filled with some sort of floor patch, thinset mortar will work for most pits.  Also, any bumps need to be chiseled or grinded flat.
  9. Sweep and vacuum.

The Underlayment

Underlayment usually comes in 100sqft rolls with moisture barrier, padding and adhesive strip for overlapping the next row.  Although, the laminate you choose may already have the padding on the back.  If this is the case there is underlayment for this type of laminate also(essentially visqueen) which needs to to be seamed with underlayment tape or the equivalent.

  1.   Roll the underlayment along the same wall you decided to start you first row.  Try not to lay to many rows of underlayment in advance to keep from damaging it(2 or 3 is usually best).
  3. Use adhesive strip or underlayment seaming tape to keep it together and moisture proof.

Laying the Laminate

  1.   Lay the first row.  When laying the first row it is important that that you use spacers to keep a minimum 1/4” gap from the wall(follow manufacturer’s instruction) to allow for expansion in weather and humidity changes.  The gap with be covered when you replace the base molding.  Also, make sure to lay the “tongue” side of the locking system out from the wall.  Use a taping block and a rubber mallet to tap the pieces together.  There is no need for brute force when taping as this may chip the edges of the laminate.  To avoid chipping the edge you can use a scrap piece, lock it in and tap it as you would a tapping block.  The last piece will need to be cut to fit and will still need to maintain the 1/4” expansion gap.  Use a pull bar and rubber mallet to tap into place If the scrap from that piece is more that 12”-16” you can use it as your first piece on the second row. Remember that your first row is what the whole floor with be following so make sure that it is straight.
  3. Lay the second row.  If your scrap from the first row was to small cut a piece in half.  To snap in the second row hold laminate at a 45 degree angle and slide it into the groove and press down until it “clicks” into place.  Use a tapping block or a scrap piece to fit it into place.  In most situations wood glue is recommended(any area with moisture such as kitchens).  Run a bead of glue on the tongue of the locking system only, there is no need to fix the laminate to the floor.
  5.   Laying laminate under doorjambs and open casings.  In order to get the laminate under the door jamb you will need to shave off the upward lip of the locking system with a utility knife.  This will allow the laminate to slide together instead of locking into place and should resemble a true tongue and groove system.  Once you have the lip trimmed you will need to slide the piece under the door jamb and tap it back into place.  Be sure that you don’t forget your wood glue here.
  7.   The last row.  When laying the last row it is still important to maintain a 1/4” expansion gap from the wall.  Use a pull bar or pry bar to set in place.

Transitions and molding

  1. Placing the transition strips.  Many laminate brand have transition strips that are also laminate and will match your new floor perfectly.  Also Pergo has a strip called 4in1(T-molding, and a few reducers all in one package) and comes in almost all of the floor colors.
  3. Replacing the base molding.  Now that the floor is down you can cover the expansion gap with the base molding.  Nail the molding back on to the wall using small finishing nails.  Use a nail set set to recess the nail head bellow the surface.  You will do the same with the quarter round but you cut the ends where it meets the door trim at a 22.5 degree angle(a miter box will do the trick if you don’t own a powered miter saw).  Sand, caulk, and paint



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This was very informative! I was able to install the floors in my bedroom in no time. Now if I can just get around to tiling the bathroom floor!

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