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The Beginner’s DIY Guide to Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is one of the easiest flooring types to install, especially for the new do-it-yourselfer. Depending on the size of the project this can easily be a one-day project. Here we will guide you through tips and considerations for installing a laminate floor.

Step One: Acclimate Your New Laminate

Before installing, you must be sure to acclimate your new laminate planks for at least 2 days. Since laminate is a wood product, it needs to adapt to the environment it will be placed in to avoid warping, cupping, or gapping. You can read more about acclimation in our other blog here.

Step Two: Prepare Your Subfloor

It’s important to note the condition of your subfloor before you start laying any new flooring. Most laminate can be installed right over your current floor, including tile, sheet vinyl, linoleum, or any other flat hard surface. Before you lay any planks, you must make sure your floor is level and clean. Any bumps or uneven texture will be able to be felt through your new floor, so be sure to take your time cleaning. An unlevel subfloor will cause your new floor to be unstable and damage easily. Once your subfloor is level and clean, you can lay a moisture barrier or underlayment.

Scraping Subfloor

Step Three: Remove Your Baseboards

You will want to remove the baseboards prior to installing your new floor. By removing your baseboards, you will be able to create the necessary gap between your wall and new floor to allow for natural expansion once your floor is installed. You’ll also save yourself from damaging your trim in the installation process.

TIP: If you are laying your floor around a door jamb, take a piece of your new floor and place it against the door jamb. Then, use an oscillating tool to cut the trim at the height of the new floor. This looks much cleaner than cutting your floor to fit the shape of the door jamb.

Step Four: Plan The Floor Layout

Planning the floor layout will help you decide which way you want your floor to run and help you make sure you aren’t putting duplicate styles of planks too close together. When laying your floor, you’ll also want to be sure you have a minimum of 6” between plank joints. Staggering the planks gives a more authentic look as well as improves the stability of your new floor.

Step Five: Read Manufacturer’s Installation Instructions

Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions for installation information. Some products may specify using a tapping block to create a tight seal between planks. Others may tell you to avoid using a tapping block. This is also where you will find out how much of an expansion gap you need to leave between the floor and the wall. In most cases, this is a minimum of ¼”. Installation Information may also specify the minimum length of the starting plank. Some could be 12”; others might be 16”.

Step Six: Lay Your First Row

You need to make sure your first row is parallel with the wall it is being installed against. And, again, be sure to keep that minimum ¼” gap between the wall. One way to do this is to use a spacer or scrap piece of floor to stand up against the wall. You’ll want to use a table saw, circular saw, or jigsaw to rip the tongue off the planks that are against your walls, so they are flush and clean. Once you have your first row done, you can move onto the next by starting with the short cut of the last plank to create your second row. If your first row is NOT straight, we don’t recommend moving on to the next rows. Remove the first row and start again.

Man Laying Laminate Floor

Step Seven: Lay Your Last Row

More than likely, your last row will not fit without needing to be cut. You can measure the amount of overlap for each plank and then use your table saw, jigsaw or circular saw to rip the tongue side of the plank, so it fits flush against the spacer.

Step Eight: Replace Your Baseboards

Once your floor is laid, you can reinstall your baseboards. In some instances, you may need to install a quarter round in addition to your baseboards to cover gaps.

If you don’t feel up to tackling a DIY laminate installation, you can always trust The Carpet Shoppe to do the job right! Fill out a contact form below and let us help you with your flooring project.


(417) 268-9451