How to lay laminate flooring

13 Dec 2019

So, you want to know how to lay laminate flooring? While certainly not easy (and probably not suitable for a first time DIYer, sorry!), it can be done with the right information and preparation. You’ll need the proper tools to get the job done, plus enough time and patience to not rush the job. Ready, get set, and…learn how to fit laminate flooring with Hoppy. 

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Your essential tools list: 

  • Laminate

  • Hand saw

  • Pencil

  • Underlay (concrete sub-floor or wooden sub-floor, as appropriate) 

  • Measuring tape 

Items you might want to have around:

  • Knee pads

  • Moisture meter

  • Pull bar 

  • Electric saw (instead of the hand saw)

  • Jig-saw

  • Spirit level

Before you start 

You’re probably raring to go with the installation of that brand-new flooring, but you must first inspect the boards for quality. Take your time to review each board, looking out for any visible defects. If you notice any defects at all, don’t proceed with the installation. Speak to your supplier to determine the best course of action. 

Don’t confuse defects with the more common appearance of rough edges and corners caused by the manufacturing process. It’s usually only a cosmetic issue with no bearing on the click system, and the performance of the floor once installed. Do look out for large broken areas, cracks, and damage to the click system, waiting to install the floor until you have spoken with the supplier about your concerns. 

Consider the site conditions 

The number one reason laminate flooring tends to fail are unfavourable site conditions. Too much and too little moisture are the enemies, and site conditions have to be just right to ensure the success and longevity of your floor. You can measure the humidity with a hygrometer (moisture meter), which can be rented, looking out for measurement between 45% and 65%. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – read all the finer details site condition and moisture levels here. Note that a supplier won’t accept liability if any evidence of incorrect site conditions is found. It’s always best to take your time, get all the right measurements, and call in the professionals if you’re unsure to avoid making an expensive mistake. 

Acclimatisation 

It’s still not the time to install your laminate flooring! Once you’re confident that site conditions have been met, the next step is to acclimatise your laminate flooring. This ensures that your floor doesn’t expand or shrink when installed, ruining all your hard work. 

Store your laminate flooring on the ground of the room of installation. Read the acclimatisation instructions accompanying the flooring and follow exactly – for most manufacturers; it’ll be in the region of 48 hours. Try not to stack the boxes where possible, and keep the conditions of the room normal. Any fluctuations will affect the laminate’s ability to acclimatise. 

Only after completing all the above actions are you ready to begin the installation. 

 

How to lay laminate flooring

Get familiar with the manufacturer’s installation instructions, reading it multiple times. Most laminate flooring is installed in the same way, but it still bears double-checking. Lay down the underlay, ensuring to cover the whole floor with no overlaps and cutting away excess material where needed. The underlay should create a smooth continuous base for your laminate. 

Now comes the fun part. Your first board should be a half board before you continue along the row. Starting with a straight wall, take the boards and start clicking them together, creating your first row by joining all the edge boards. Use spacers to maintain a gap of 10mm against the wall, but if you don’t have spacers, then off-cuts from your laminate will work too. Continue onto the next row, starting with a full board this time. Try to space the joints far apart to boost the strength of the installation. Repeat the process until you reach the other side of the room. Be sure to leave a 10mm gap all around, including walls, pipes, skirting, door frames, stairs, door frames, etc. 

When you’re done with the installation, you can hide the gap around the perimeter with beading or skirting. It should be at least 12mm thick to compensate for any potential shrinkage. For trickier areas like radiator pipes and gaps at doors, seek out specialist accessories to help hide those expansion gaps. 

Still unsure about the process? Besides reading instructions multiple times and following them accurately, spend some time watching online tutorials to get comfortable with the process. Find a general one or even search for a video using the same flooring as yours for extra assurance. 

Would rather get a helping hand from a pro? Let’s Hoppy’s trusted partner Rated People find you a reliable floor-fitter in your area in just 4 easy steps. 

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