I’ve installed laminate floors 3 times. The largest was in an almost 400 sf room. It isn’t difficult after you get that first row down, but I’d recommend doing it with help, using the following tips for a successful result. Not sure if you can handle it? Check Armstrong’s Assessment tool for DIY’ers.
What You’ll Need
- Extra saw blades – Laminate is very hard, and the type with padding already attached can make it even tougher. Do not expect to use the same blade to cut it that you’d use for plywood. 100+ teeth, and a carbide tipped blade is strongly recommended. With my 400 sf room we went through 3 blades before we were done.
- Laminate flooring – Get the type with padding/backing attached. Otherwise you’ll have two jobs; laying the underlayment, then laying the flooring.
- Installation kit – Tapping block, pull bar and wedges. Some kits sold are shoddy. Consider buying a professional tapping block and pull bar. Otherwise the block may shatter, or chip the edges of the flooring.Tip – use a dry baby wipe or chamois as a cushion with the block to reduce chipping.
- Vacuum – to vacuum the subfloor and keep up with the dust. Due to the nature of chemicals used in laminate, it’s best to all your cutting outdoors or in a very well ventilated room. Sawing creates smoke, sparks, and a lot of unhealthy dust.
- Goggles and Dust Mask – to protect you from the dust
- Saw – We use a circular saw for the basic cuts, and a jig saw for the detail work to fit around heating ducts, trim, etc.
Prepare the Area
You can install laminate over any type of flooring but carpet. If you’re removing old flooring, just make sure your subfloor is level, or consider laying new subfloor. Remove all trim possible, including doorway trim. You will need to cut the trim to account for the new floor height. Vacuum the entire area.
Tips for Easy Installation
Important – Temperature should be at least 65 degrees in the room you’re laying the floor. Give the flooring at least 36 hours in that room (laid flat in the boxes) to acclimate before laying.
Start at the wall furthest from your doorway, lay the laminate according to instructions. Once that first row is laid, grab your patience firmly and begin the second row. That’s the trickiest one since the first row will move a bit. Having someone stand on the previous row may help. If you’re having trouble getting the pieces to click together, hold the new piece at an angle and tap lightly on the edge until it connects. You can then lay it flat and tap it the rest of the way in. Keep an eye on previous pieces in the row as they can pop back out if you’re not careful.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Laminate floors are popular for many reasons. They’re an easy to clean option for households with pets, and resist mold and mildew. Liquids need to be mopped up as soon as possible to avoid staining or warping. Also, pet nails can scratch some cheaper laminates. Look into what you’re purchasing if you’ve got a number of dogs in the house. We have three and have had no issues, even when one was being housebroken! For detailed information about pet-friendly laminate flooring, check out Armstrong’s site.
Laminate flooring can give an older house new life, and can make renovation of a room a snap! If you prepare properly, and approach the project with patience, you’ll be thrilled with the end results.
Better Homes and Gardens