Any remodeling project can be time consuming and expensive. Redoing your floor doesn't have to be. Save money on an expensive contractor by installing your new laminate floor yourself.
Step 1 — Prep the Area
Take off baseboards and moldings all around the room and remove any doors in the room. Fasten down any loose or squeaking floorboards and use leveling compound to get rid of any dips in the floor. If you have taken up carpet, make sure you remove any nails or tacks that might be left.
Step 2 — Install the Underlay
Install the underlay (it usually comes in 36" or 42"-wide rolls) by rolling it out in rows butted against each other without overlapping. Tape the seams with duct tape. 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 underlay.
Step 3 — Check the Door Jambs
The height of the new laminate flooring may mean your doorframes need to be modified. Check by laying a piece of the flooring on top of the underlay and see if it fits below the jamb. If not, mark the jamb and cut it so the flooring can slide under it.
Step 4 — Measure
Starting at the far side of the room, measure across the room to determine if you need to cut the first plank. You want to end up with the pieces on both sides of the room approximately the same width.
Step 5 — Lay the First Row
Lay the first boards against your starting wall, groove side towards the wall. If you do need to cut the first row of boards to width, cut off the groove side. Use spacers (or a piece of flooring on edge) to ensure you leave a 1/4-inch gap between the flooring and the wall. You need to leave this gap between the flooring and the wall all around the room to allow for minor seasonal variations in the boards themselves.
Step 6 — Cutting the Laminate
Cut laminate flooring with a circular saw with a fine tooth blade or a jig saw. Using a power saw, cut laminate good side down, to reduce tear out on the cuts.
Don't forget to wear the appropriate safety gear such as goggles and gloves while you work.
Step 7 — Laying the Rest
Lay out the first three rows as follows: The first board in the first row needs to be a full board. The first board in the second row should be 2/3 of a board, and the first board in the third row should be 1/3 of a board. Fill in the rows with full boards and cut boards to fit the remaining space. Repeat the pattern as you move across the room, ensuring that joints are always at least 8 inches from each other.
Join the boards together by inserting the tongue into the groove at a high angle and then pushing down. The boards will click together. Tapping gently with a hammer and the tapping block may be necessary to make sure the boards lock together.
When you are working close to the wall, the pry bar specially designed to work with laminate flooring helps pull the boards into place end to end. Never use the hammer directly on the pieces of laminate as you could damage the edge of a piece so badly that nothing will be able to fit with it.
Step 8 — Finishing
Once the floor is down, 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.
You can sit back and enjoy your new floor now! You will also enjoy knowing you saved money by doing it yourself.
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer with articles published in both the United States and Canada. He has written on a wide range of topics, but specializes in home maintenance and how to's.