How To Lay Laminate Flooring
Laying laminate flooring is a job which costs a lot of money to get done professionally. But it can be done by yourself – if you know what to do and are prepared.
You need to remove the existing flooring, and then prepare the subfloor surface, before installing laminate flooring. There are also some essential tools which you need for the job, which probably aren’t used in everyday life. Therefore, hiring the tools from Speedy Services will help limit costs and storage headaches.
One necessary tool is a saw, to cut any floorboards which will need to sit around appliances and plumbing such as toilets and sinks, or simply to fit the length or width of your room. While a hand saw can be used with most types of flooring, this will be time-consuming, and difficult when cutting shapes. So, a jigsaw will be worth its weight in gold.
Not only will it get the job done quicker, but a jigsaw can also minimise dust production, creating a safer environment. It will also be safer and quicker than using a handheld saw because it offers more control.
How much laminate flooring do I need?
An essential question before you even begin. To work this out, you need to know the size of the room in m2.
Check this number against the coverage of the pack. All will say how much m2 coverage they provide. Purchase an additional 10-15% for cutting and wastage.
Leave the packs of laminate flooring horizontally on the floor for 48 hours before fitting, so they can settle.
What you need to lay laminate flooring
As with all DIY projects, you need to wear the correct PPE when laying flooring. This includes:
- Safety goggles
- Ear protection
- Dust mask
- Protective clothing
Installing laminate wood flooring can be painful on the knees if you have to kneel to lay it. So, wear some kneepads. Most of the PPE above will be essential when cutting the boards in particular. Ensure this is done in a well-ventilated room.
To lay your laminate flooring, you need:
- Flooring boards
- Tape for underlay
- 10-12mm spacers (you can also use an offcut of your flooring)
- Tape measure
Most laminate is now click fit or tongue and groove flooring, so all individual pieces are easy to fit together. This means that it is only really the underlay, cutting and beading which you need to do.
Before you start to fit laminate flooring
Remove existing flooring. You need to then check the condition of your subflooring. Concrete is porous, so check moisture levels before you get started. Aim for moisture content of 12% or less on a prong test, or 3% or less on a moisture meter.
If there will be high moisture risk, you need to buy an underlay which prevents this from coming through to the floorboards. Damp-proof underlay or membrane is readily available. Underlay as a whole is essential as it is sound-proof and feels better underfoot.
Floors need to be clean, flat, and level. The good news is that most laminate is compatible with underfloor heating, so this shouldn’t be an issue, but check before you buy.
You should also try to work out how you will lay your floorboards. Choosing whether to go lengthways or widthways could change the whole perspective of the room. You also should ensure that the joints of each row will be staggered, so they are more secure.
The last plank of every row needs to be at least 300 mm long, which may mean you need to cut your first board to accommodate. So, set them all out before you get stuck in, so everything is ready to go.
You should also bear in mind that an expansion gap of 10-12mm should be left around the edge of the room to allow for the flooring to expand and contract. If your skirting is 10-12mm thick, just remove this and refix once done.
How to lay a laminate floor
Step 1: Start your first row
Ensure the floor is prepared and the underlay is in place. Use tape to fit the pieces of underlay to each other.
You should start your flooring journey either in the corner of the room against the longest wall or, if you have a radiator in the room, lay the first board(s) against the pipes. This way, you can mark out and cut the boards in the best place to accommodate the pipes, rather than struggling to match them up when the time comes.
The short tongue edge should be against the wall, so all other pieces can naturally click fit. Once the first piece is down, put some spacers between the floor and the wall so you have a guide to naturally follow.
Step 2: Line up the boards
Line up the next board so it is in a straight line with the first and click it in place. Place it at an angle; when the board is lowered, it will naturally fix to the first board. You can continue to add spacers as you go along if you find them easier to use as a guide.
Continue until you have laid the final full board possible.
Step 3: Cut the final board
When you’re ready to cut the last board to fit the gap, lay a full board face down next to the row which is in place. Draw a line on the underside with a pencil which will be your cutting line. Make sure that the last plank is at least 300 mm long.
Secure the board and cut with your jigsaw. Move slowly to get the line straight and accurate.
- SPEEDY TOP TIP: If using a laminate blade, cut face up. If using a wood blade, cut face down
Step 4: Start the next row
If the final board of the previous row is more than 300mm long, it can be used to start the second row. If not, simply cut the first board in half to get started. This will ensure the joins of every row are overlapped, to make the flooring more secure when fitted.
Put your spacer in place, and then click the first board of the second row into the groove of the first row.
Do the same with the next board, but also angle to fit into the first board of the second row. Continue along the row until the last piece. Repeat this process until the room is completed.
Step 5: Beading/skirting board
To finish off and cover the gap, you will need either beading or to refit the skirting. Use strong glue or a nail gun to fix these to the wall (don’t fit to the floor, to allow for the expansion and to ensure no damage is caused).
How do I cut laminate around radiator pipes or doorways?
You need to place a piece of laminate as close as possible to where you need to fit around and use a pencil to mark out the shapes to cut. Use your measuring tape to mark how deep the cut has to be, too.
A jigsaw could help when cutting out fiddly shapes, such as the grooves to fit around a doorframe. Work slowly and have spare boards to hand in case it goes wrong the first time.
This is why it is a good idea to lay the boards out as a practice before you start fitting. This way, you can try and place the boards to minimise the cutting required. Cutting one single board will be less of a headache than cutting several boards.
READY FOR MORE DIY TIPS?
Thank you for reading our Speedy Services blog. We hope you found this guide on how to lay laminate flooring useful and are well on your way to becoming a DIY flooring expert.
If you’re thinking of refreshing your entire bathroom, read our guide on easy, cheap ways to get your bathroom looking brand new.
We have tonnes more tips and how-to guides, too. Please visit our Skills and Projects page.
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