How to Lay Out Laminate Flooring

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Laminate flooring is a popular substitute for solid wood flooring. This is because it can be cheaper, more durable and easier to install. The process is different from installing wood flooring, which requires you to nail it down. With laminate, you simply lay out the flooring and slide it into place. It is not physically attached to the subflooring, making it a lot easier to replace if a piece gets damaged.

Things You'll Need

  • Laminate flooring
  • Leveling compound (optional)
  • Hammer
  • Underlay
  • Duct tape
  • Pencil and paper
  • Straightedge, preferably a ruler
  • Jigsaw
  • Let the flooring sit in your house for at least 2 days before you install it. It may expand or contract slightly due to the humidity. It's best to let this happen before it's laid out so there's no problem with changes in fit later. Pull up any existing flooring and patch any craters with leveling compound. Remove baseboard and moldings so that you can lay the flooring flush against the wall. Keep the nails with these pieces for easy reinstallation afterward.

  • Roll out the underlay. If you need more than one sheet, abut them without overlapping. Tape them together with duct tape.

  • Pick a wall to start at and lay your first set of boards with the groove side of each board facing the wall. Don't put the board flush against the wall. Leave about 1/4 inch in case they expand slightly in the future. If you don't, they could slip out of place.

  • Lay out additional rows, alternating a full board with one-third and two-thirds boards as needed to properly fill your space. Attach the boards to one another by clipping the notch of the new board into the groove of the one you're attaching it to. If needed, tap with a hammer to secure the connection. To cut pieces to fit along the wall or around corners, use your saw, cutting with the good side of the board facing downward. Before you cut, measure with a piece of paper to determine the size you'll need. Then mark on the board with a pencil and straightedge.

  • Check to see that all the flooring is securely in place. Then reattach your baseboards and molding.

Tips & Warnings

  • Buy slightly more flooring than you think you'll need. Different batches could vary in color even if they're made in the same factory.
  • Be careful when hammering down stubborn pieces of flooring. If you use too much pressure it could crack or splinter. Never attach the baseboards to the flooring. Always nail them to the wall instead.

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