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Laminate Buying Checklist

How to Install Laminate Flooring

Installing a laminate floor is a common project for the DIYer who has some light carpentry experience, and who is comfortable with table saws and other related tools.

In this section of the Laminate flooring Learning Center, we’re going to get into the details of how this process should go. But, before we do, and for those of you who appreciate the visual medium, here’s a video to help you get an overall idea of what a laminate flooring installation is going to entail.

With that in mind, below are some details that you may wish to take into consideration when it comes to success with a laminate floor installation project.

Preparing For a Laminate Flooring Installation

iStock 000005478843XSmall 300x198 How to Install Laminate Flooring

Installing Laminate Flooring

Preparing for a laminate flooring installation is a simple way to achieve the most efficient use of your time. There are three important issues to think about before the day of laminate installation: Furniture, appliances and fixed objects.

Furniture: Remove all your furniture and other objects from the job site where laminate installation will take place. Make sure to empty the closets, cabinets, and other furniture carrying stuff. If your installer is prepared to move the furniture for you as a means of preparing for a laminate flooring installation, then check in advance if he is going to charge you for it.

Appliances: Your appliances need to be disconnected and removed from the space you’re preparing. For a laminate flooring installation, some installers may do the job for you for an additional charge. Of course, you can do it yourself with a little help in most cases. Be sure you take the scheduling of the installation into account and proceed accordingly. Prior arrangements should be made with your gas/appliances company to disconnect and reconnect all gas appliances safely. Disconnecting gas related appliances yourself is NOT recommended.

Fixed Objects: For better finishing, fixed objects such as posts and fireplace surrounds need to be included into your plan when preparing for a laminate flooring installation. Measuring the dimensions of these objects and how they may affect your square footage requirement is a good way to start preparing. And this can be done before your installer arrives! For a laminate flooring installation, the overall look will often depend on the details. Preparing properly for a laminate flooring installation can result in a trouble-free experience.

Pre-installation instructions

A do-it-yourself laminate floor installation requires intermediate-level construction skills. Several factors should be considered before a laminate floor installation. A swift and easy process of installation can take place if you carefully prepare for the installation. Here are a few instructions:

  • Make sure that the subfloor is flat, dry, and smooth.
  • Always use underlayment under your laminate floor for soundproofing and stability.
  • Laminate flooring and underlayment/vapor barrier can be installed on any existing floor whether concrete, wood flooring, vinyl tile, linoleum, tile, etc as long as the floor is flat and solid. The foam pad will make up for minor irregularities.
  • Allow the flooring material to acclimatize to the installation site for as long as possible (min. 2 to 3 days). This allows the flooring to adjust to the room temperature and humidity.
  • Examine each floor plank for grade, color, finish, quality and defects.
  • Laminate floor installation should take place at room temperature of at least 65°F (15°C). A floor surface temperature of 59°F and an overall room temperature of 64°F must be ensured before, during and three days after the installation.
  • Take extra care when installing laminate flooring over radiant heating. Ensure that you read both the laminate flooring and radiant heat system instructions carefully.
  • Read the installation instructions provided by your laminate flooring provider / manufacturer.

Installation tips

  • The beginning wall of the flooring (the wall where you start installing the new floor) should be more visible than your ending wall.
  • Remove any previous carpeting or wood flooring glued to a concrete floor. (Wood flooring NOT glued to a concrete floor can remain.)
  • A good visual effect can be achieved by mixing planks from 4 to 5 different boxes. The width of the joint between the tiles on each strip may vary. Using these strips and placing thin joints next to thick joints gives a more natural look.
  • After measuring the area of the floor to be covered with the laminate, add 10% to allow as wastage.
  • If your room is larger than 1,000 square feet, you must use inch spacers to create expansion space around the border of the room and any pipes, doorframes, cabinets, or fixed objects etc.
  • If your room is smaller, a gap 0.50 of inch can work. These gaps allow for expansion and contraction. The exposed edges can be concealed with trim or molding.
  • To install flooring around pipes, drill a hole in the plank that is half or a quarter inch larger than the pipe diameter. Cut the plank across the center of the circle, fit around the pipe on the floor, glue plank pieces back together and clamp (do not glue laminate to subfloor). Cover expansion gaps with molding or pipe rings when the floor is complete. Water pipes require silicone sealant.
  • To replace any planks damaged during installation, raise the last installed board approximately 1-2 inches until it disengages. Continue until you reach the affected plank, replace and reinstall the planks.

Underlayment installation

Underlayment is a material placed under flooring to provide a smooth and even installation surface. It comes in large rolls or as separate pieces that can be taped together. The use of an underlayment speeds installation, reduces walking noise, improves flooring stability and provides superior support.

  • Remove the shoe molding from around the baseboard and also the doors from the installation area to be covered.
  • The flooring planks need additional space to fit under doorframes. Place a piece of underlayment and laminate flooring next to the jamb to determine the required height, and cut out the desired area of the frame.
  • Install the underlayment and make sure the edges don’t overlap. To prevent them from shifting, tape the pieces together. Create an expansion gap between the underlayment and walls by using spacers.
  • If you’re placing a laminate floor on top of a concrete slab, apply a polyethylene plastic vapor barrier before installing the underlayment.

Floating or glueless installation method

Ease of installation is one of the key advantages of laminate flooring. One of the two do-it-yourself installment options is the floating or glueless method. In this method, the flooring is not secured to the subfloor. Instead, it allows each board to be connected by means of a tongue-and-groove design. Around eight inches by four feet long, these planks click together to form a firmly fastened surface.

Not only easier, the glueless flooring planks are installed approximately 50% faster on an average than the traditional methods of installation.

Materials requirement:

  • Straight edge
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Marker
  • Speed square (to test angles)
  • Scissors
  • Hammer
  • Coping saw
  • Circular saw with fine-tooth blade
  • Safety goggles
  • Clamps
  • Wall spacer wedges
  • Tapping block
  • Last row puller (prybar)
  • Laminate flooring
  • Underlay (foam, vinyl or cork are popular choices)

Installation procedure

  • Flooring planks should be preferably installed with their length parallel to the incoming sunlight.
  • Start the installation from the left corner of the room. Cut off the tongue of the planks, and run them parallel to the wall with the help of expansion spacers.
  • Install each plank by inserting one end into the other at an angle and pressing down.
  • On reaching the end of the row, measure and trim the last plank to fit.
  • Cut a new plank similar to the pattern of the first row and start the next row with this plank.
  • Lift the previous row slightly to fit the next planks into position. Now give a sharp rap to the next line of boards with your hand to fully engage and press them down firmly.
  • Continue with this procedure with the rest of the flooring.
  • The last row should be the same width as the first row. Trace the wall outline and remember to leave space for expansion.
  • Trim and remove excess plastic sheeting and spacers. Reinstall baseboards without nailing to the floor.
  • Flooring should extend under the doorframe. Use a piece of scrap flooring to mark the depth that the doorframe should be trimmed.

Laminate Flooring Installation Costs

Once you’ve chosen a laminate floor, you need to calculate the total cost of your installation. You will need to determine how much square footage you’ll need, consider the AC rating that will best suit your flooring location, along with the cost of underlay and laminate flooring moldings too. Making sure that there are no surprises as far as your project budget is concerned makes for a good start to a successful laminate flooring installation.

But, apart from material costs, here is a list of additional expenditures you may have to factor in during or prior to a laminate flooring installation project:

  • Furniture removal and replacement: Some professional installers include a charge to remove your furniture out of the laminate flooring installation site and also for moving it back there once the installation has been completed.
  • Taking off the old floor covering: Your previous/old floor covering may need to be removed and the debris has to be disposed properly as well. If you don’t do this yourself, your installer may regard it as a cost incurring step.
  • Subfloor preparation: If your subfloor needs to be repaired or treated for unevenness, then pre-installation work may incur additional charges. Be sure to get your installer’s reviews on your substrate.
  • Installation: Determine the cost per square foot to install laminate. Be aware of other criteria your installer may use to bill his or her work.
  • Accessories installation: If the installation procedure requires accessories/additional material/ tools to install laminate properly, be sure to find out if this step is included in the installation agreement.

There are many things you should know before considering laminate as your flooring option. This may not be a complete list of things to look into before finalizing your decision about laminate flooring, but a good conversation with your flooring installer will give you the complete information. Make sure to get an installation quote that is truly all-inclusive before the work begins. Doing your research and getting all of the costs of a laminate flooring installation upfront is the key to a happy, and successful, project.

Installing Laminate Flooring – A How-To Guide

Once again, here’s that same video, which serves as a step by step guide to installing laminate flooring. Everything you need to know about how to install laminate floors at the highest level is included here.

Watch Installing Laminate Flooring – A How-To Guide on YouTube

Related posts:

  1. Where Can You Install Laminate Flooring?
  2. Laminate Flooring Dos And Don’ts
  3. How To Install Vinyl Plank Flooring

This Learning Center belongs to you. We invite you to contribute to it.

Have you got a question about what you've read here? Tell us about in the comments section. 

If you're an expert in the field, and see something that is inaccurate, tell us, and we'll make the correction. 

Also, if you think there is important information that is absent from any of these articles, please let us know!

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

val August 19, 2010 at 9:35 pm

What is recommended when using in a basement floor, for the servicing of hot water heaters? What type of top padding is best used?

Kathleen Weaver October 25, 2010 at 7:06 pm

I want to use laminate flooring in the master bedroom. My husband is handicapped and I need to use a “Hoyer Lift” at times to move him in the bedroom. My husband has a hospital bed in the bedroom as well as a “Power” wheelchair. He also used the master bathroom off the master bedroom equipped with handicapped appliances. Is a Laminate floor conducive to his needs in the bedroom and what do you suggest for the master bathroom for flooring? Thank you in advance for your response.

D.J.Bonello March 21, 2011 at 1:48 am

I’m installing laminate flooring in my basement (on concrete floor ) which is approximately 42 feet long by 17 feet wide. A friend told me that I have to use some kind of a transition to split the length ( 42 feet ) in half. He told me that if I install laminate flooring in a room over 30 feet in length, eventually it will buckle in the middle. Is there any truth in that theory?
Thank you in advance for any help you can supply me with.
D.J. Bonello

Will Youth June 30, 2011 at 7:47 am

Your information are very useful. You provide a step-by-step procedure on how to laminate flooring, how it works, and it’s importance. Thank you for sharing us good ideas. Keep on posting.

Marcia August 7, 2011 at 5:03 pm

We are installing laminate in 3rooms upstairs, all are separated by carpet. 2 rooms have north/south windows, including the biggest -master bedroom, the last one has an east window. Does it matter that 1room will have a floor that has a pattern perpendicular to the others, or does the “light rule-install the floor perpendicular to incoming light” take precedence over the direction of the pattern?

All Floors Inc. September 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Great post! Laminate is definitely a product that will be around for many years. Its beauty as well as its durability is what makes it so perfect for so many people. Take your time when laying this type of flooring. Even when you think the job will take just a few days, it is necessary to take proper measurements as well as to get it just right. When you rush the project, you could cause unnecessary laminate flooring problems.

chris bogle October 19, 2011 at 4:23 am

I will be installing the floor in a second floor unit condo. the current floor is carpet over concrete.
if the concrete has imperfections can I use a 1/4 ” plywood underlayment to take of this? The plywood would be glued and screwed to the concrete I would then use a moisture barrier and foam underlayment

Gary Sandur October 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Hi Chris,
You can definitely do what you are thinking of doing, however please keep in mind that your underlay will take care of any imperfections you have in your sub floor other that a levelness issue. If there floor has more that an 1/4″ variance over an 8ft length you will have issues down the road. You may want to attempt to level the concrete prior to installation that way you do not have to put the plywood down and can install over your existing concrete sub floor. Then all you would need to do is use a vapor barrier with your underlay.

karen greves November 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I have a peel and stick vinyl floor 8 years old and in good condition, do I have to remove the vinyl, which is over a concrete slab? I have purchased your sound vapor barrier which I plan to use. Karen

Albert Lugassy February 28, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Thanks for the video flooring.
1. I have a question how much home depot charge instalation per sq ft.
2. I am thinking about flooring
If you can respond.

bob gordon March 1, 2012 at 2:19 am

can you install your laminate floor on steps if so how

Gary Sandur March 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Hi Bob,
Great question. You definitely can install laminate on your stair, what you would do is glue the laminate flooring directly to the stair tread and the riser, no underlayment is required. You would finish the step by using the a Stair nose molding. Depending on the floor you may be able to find matching stair treads and risers also.

Rodney Noriega March 1, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Hi Bob,

You can definitely install laminate on steps. How you install will usually depend on the particular model you choose, and the manufacturer it is from. In all cases they are usually glued down directly.

You would have to glue down one or more of the laminate floor boards on the tread of the step, and then place a stair nose trim on the nosing of each step. You would then glue the boards to the riser. Depending on your preference, you may also cut and install a quarter round molding at the inside corner where the tread meets the riser.

Generally you want to get confirmation from a professional installer, but installing these on steps is pretty straightforward.

Art James June 9, 2012 at 7:43 am

I am considering quotes for laminating approx 50sqm.
I have 2 quotes from well established flooring firms. One is for floating method with edging strips at £3000 total cost.
The other quote insists I need to stick down the laminate with the edges scribed into the skirting board. This will cost £5000.
Both will use high quantity engineered wood costing about £30 persqm.

I want a good job done but don’t want to waste money unnecessarily.
The 2nd option sounds like the better job as it sounds permanent and won’t have those strips around the edge of the rooms.
However most people seem to talk about floating floors.
Which option is better?


Maria September 24, 2012 at 4:57 am

We are installing laminate flooring in our basement over a concrete floor. We have a radiant heat system also. Do we still need to lay a vapor barrier under the laminate when we have radiant heat?

Nora Morin October 7, 2012 at 3:01 pm

How to install laminate floating floor around floor heat ducks.?

Please and thanks you

Dennis November 2, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Should we have the laminate flooring layed first, then install a new Murphy bed, or do we
do the reverse.

Jack Roberts December 9, 2012 at 2:23 am

I puchased allen anRoth laminate flooring from Lowes and low and behold no instruction sheet now what doI do I live 100 miles from the store. thanks.

Kevin January 12, 2013 at 1:50 pm

I’m installing laminate flooring around a rounded ended flat rock way. How do I transition the round walk way to the round cuts I made to fit my laminate in?

Dave February 19, 2013 at 1:35 am

I’m going to build a house on the wet side of the big island of Hawaii and there will be no hvac installed and need to know if laminate flooring is ok. what grade of AC should be the minimum? If ok to install.

Keith May 2, 2013 at 9:32 pm

I have laminate flooring in my kitchen and 5 pieces got wet and the edges have raised a little bit. Is it possible to remove and replace the damaged boards?

Chris June 15, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Trying to lay down laminate floor but the ends won’t lock together. What do we need to do?

paul September 7, 2013 at 5:39 am

thank you for info and video, 3 things, the transition strip portion could have used a bit more explanation on how its finished, is it nailed or does it snap in like flooring planks? 2nd, I’m no expert but I was taught to cut planks with the laminate/face down, and tell us what type of saw blade was used, .

marie October 7, 2013 at 6:24 pm

I want to put laminate floor in my bathroom, few tiles are cracked and don’t want to go through all the mess of replacing. will a laminate floor work for me on top of ceramic.

Dave October 29, 2013 at 10:42 pm

I’m going to install wood laminate in two upstairs bedroom floors. Is a vapor barrier needed in these rooms. The bedrooms are over the lving room and kitchen.

carol November 13, 2013 at 7:32 pm

What do you think of laying a laminate flooring in a ground level, now concrete floor?
Does the floor have to be carefully leveled so that no buckling might occur? If a floor were
not level, say with some concave areas, would the laminate strips eventually crack in these places?

How thick an underlay would be necessary in a basement-type concrete slab area, to ease the coldness of the floor once laminate is installed?

Brad November 23, 2013 at 1:00 am

I had to tear up some of the laminete flooring that was just installed. Can i reinstall the portion that we pulled up back wards or do k need to pull the whole floor up and insta from the start

Doug December 30, 2013 at 1:10 pm

We are going to install our laminate floor in our kitchen that has carpet in the living room and hall way and a walkout to the deck. The kitchen is in a split level above ground. Our question is which way do we lay the laminate–horizontal to the walkout door in kitchen and end up in the living room with the long edge (13 feet wide) of the flooring going under the transition piece OR do we lay the laminate to where the ends of the laminate start at walkout door and end up under the transition piece to carpet. Our walkout faces east with sun in morning and then sun comes in the 4 x 5 window from south into the kitchen in the afternoon.
Thank you
Doug January 19, 2014 at 7:25 am

naturally like your web-site however you have to test
the spelling on quite a few of your posts. A number of them are rife
with spelling problems and I find it very bothersome to tell the truth however I’ll
definitely come again again.

Jacqueline A. Bowers April 16, 2014 at 6:34 pm

I guy had Laminate flooring put down in Bedroom and Kitchen And Living Room area, It,s now starting to come up. The Gentleman that put it down says he will have to get some sort of screws. Is this true?

Ora Trefethen May 30, 2014 at 6:11 pm

Where can I find a piece of finishing Pergo trim for a doorway that goes down some stairs?..

naseem kilada October 9, 2014 at 2:11 pm

whow to instal Treviso Artificial Turf

Rob Jones October 9, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Hi Naseem,

On the product page, there is a tab called “Additional Info”. You can download the installation instructions from there.

Hope this helps!

joan young October 28, 2014 at 8:23 pm

We want laminate Flooring in our den. We have two concrete steps up into the kitchen and a concrete landing into, which is about 5×4…. We have been told that laminate flooring cannot be put down on concrete steps, etc. Is this true? We also have a concrete fireplace in one end of the den and they tell us they can lay the laminate flooring around the fireplace…..What does this tell you. We are very confused. Lowe’s is one of the companies that tells us this info.

Rob Jones November 5, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Hi Joan,

I can’t think of a reason not to install laminate on stairs, concrete or otherwise, assuming that the steps are at precise 90 degree angles. Otherwise, maybe this video will help, which also includes some jaunty ukulele music.

I hope that helps!

Kermit February 3, 2015 at 11:35 pm

I would like to extend my floating floor after I remove the ceramic floor tiles. The floating floor will be extended left of the existing floor which I think is the opposite way to do this. What would be the best way without tearing out the whole floor?

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