6 Tips for a Successful Laminate Flooring Installation

A man on the floor measuring laminate flooring with a ruler.

Planning to redo the floor in your home? Laminate flooring is inexpensive, beautiful once complete, and easy to take care of. The installation is simple and can typically be finished in a day or two, depending on the size of the area you’re covering. With the necessary tools, a prepared floor, and a chunk of time to complete the project, new laminate flooring will be in your near future with this DIY project. Here are some tips to get a professional finish.

1. Have a Clean Floor

A broom leaning up against a brick wall.

Before installing any laminate flooring, it’s important to have a flat, clean surface (typically concrete) on which to install it. The base floor underneath the flooring that you pulled up needs to be free of debris and gunk—such as wax, glue, or dirt—that may have been left behind by the old flooring. This may require a little extra preparation with a floor sander in order to remove it. Also, make sure there are no large cracks or holes in the concrete and that the floor is safe, sturdy, and strong. Sweep, mop, and clean up any dirt or debris from the floor and allow it to dry overnight before you begin. If the climate is humid and damp, you may need to put down a vapor barrier before any flooring is installed.

2. Adjust the Flooring to Room Temps

At least a few hours before you plan to install the laminate flooring, set the laminate in the room where it will be installed, if it isn’t being stored there already. This will give it time to adjust to the temperature of the room, as well the humidity. Some experts say it should sit overnight, so it can swell and adjust to any temperature changes the room may have regularly.

3. Use an Underlayment

A handyman installing underlayment before flooring.

Some types of laminate flooring come with an underlay backing, which is what keeps the laminate in place. If the flooring you chose does not, however, you will have to purchase new underlayment and put it down on your floor before installing the laminate. Since laminate flooring does not use glue or adhesive, this is a very important step.

4. A Saw Is Your Friend

A saw will be a very necessary tool for laying your new flooring down. Without a good one, the job will be much more difficult. Make sure to have all the necessary safety gear, such as goggles and gloves, and to use the saw not only on the laminate flooring, but also to cut a small amount (about 1/16 of an inch) of your trim away from the base of the wall. Saw in a straight line parallel to the floor, in order to make room to tuck the laminate underneath the wall, instead of just pushing the edge against it. This will take some extra measuring, sawing, and line drawing, but will be worth it in the end. The laminate pieces will stay in place better and look beautiful.

5. Seams Should be Spaced Apart

A handyman installing laminate flooring.

When installing the laminate, it should be laid in rows, and all seams should be spaced at least 6 inches apart from the row next to it, according to experts. This gives the floor a more natural, wooden look. Seams should not line up, nor should they be in any sort of pattern. Pieces smaller than one foot long should be saved and used along edges of the walls, as they can look out of place in the middle of the floor.

6. Use Moulding and Thresholds

To help hold the laminate flooring in place, keep the floor clean, and eliminate any gaps between the laminate flooring and the wall, install thresholds and moulding that match the color of the flooring. They can be simply installed along the edges with a few nails and a hammer, and get rid of any spaces that remain. They also help wrap up the entire project and make it look professional.