Install a Laminate Floor to be Proud Of

If the floors in your home are less than brag-worthy, don’t feel you must hide them with carpet. Laminate floors can take your rooms to the next level, and you won’t need professional help to do it. Here’s how.

Let Your Flooring Feel at Home

To avoid unpleasant surprises, give your laminate flooring a chance to adjust to your home’s specific atmospheric conditions. Remove any plastic, lay the boxes on the floor with plenty of air space around each and let them acclimate for 48 hours.

Prepare the Room

Clean the old floor thoroughly and remove the base molding. Each door jamb will need a trim to allow the flooring to fit underneath. Using a piece of the laminate as a guide, mark its thickness on each jamb with a pencil, making sure your lines are level. Cut along the marks with a coping saw. When the floor is completely dry, install a vapor barrier following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Lay the First Row

All flooring looks best when laid parallel to the longest wall, so that’s the place to start. To leave room for your floor to expand and contract, place ½-inch spacers at one-foot intervals along the wall. Now, lay your first row of planks up against the spacers with the groove facing the wall.

Lay the Subsequent Rows

Each following row must be installed with staggered end joints. The length to which the first plank in each row is cut must ensure an offset of six to eight inches between its joints and those of the previous row. Never let the end joints line up between the rows, for this will look bad and weaken your floor.

Matching the groove of the current row to the tongue of the previous row, tap each piece snugly into place. Be sure that all planks fit together tightly without any gaps.

The Last Row

Before laying the last row, install ½ inch spacers against the final wall as you did with the first row. Now, unless you’re really lucky, you’re going to have to rip the last row of planks to fit. To mark the width correctly, lay each plank to be ripped directly on top of a plank in the next-to-last row. Top both planks with a third plank that is pressed against the spacers. Draw a line along the edge of the third plank to mark the cutting line on the second plank. Rip the second plank along the line and install it.

Finishing Up

Remove all spacers and replace the base molding. Install thresholds in each door to ease the transition between your new flooring and that in adjoining rooms. Now, invite the neighbors in to admire your laminate floor.