Today we're going to show you exactly how to lay laminate flooring.
There are many benefits to laminate flooring. Alongside a wide range of beautiful styles and high durability, it's a much more cost-effective option to real wood.
A DIY installation may also save money on fitters fees. You have your dream flooring, and now it just needs fitting. If you're fitting laminate flooring yourself, use this guide to walk through every step with expert advice along the way.
Important Steps When Installing Laminate Flooring
This guide covers information on all of the necessary planning, installation and aftercare steps required when you lay laminate flooring.
Click on any of the below steps to jump to the section you need:
- Tools and materials
- Safety advice
- Room suitability
- How to measure a room for laminate
- Preparation and planning
- Using underlay
- Top tips
- How to fit laminate flooring
- Video guide
- Installing laminate flooring around difficult areas
- Fitting edging
- How to fit radiator rings
- Door thresholds
- Fitting laminate flooring on stairs
- Aftercare and maintenance
- The cost of fitting laminate flooring
Tools & Materials
To lay laminate flooring, you'll need the following tools:
- Laminate flooring
- Radiator rings
- Door threshold/profile
- Flooring spacers
- Tapping block
- Pull bar
- Set square
- Mitre box
- Calculator (or any smartphone)
- Hand saw or jigsaw
- Circular saw
- Power drill (with drill bit)
- Tape measure
- Panel pins
- Wood glue
- String line
- Safety goggles
- Knee pads
- Dust mask
- Ear muffs
As with any DIY job, safety is high on the list of priorities. Remember these top tips to stay safe when you're installing laminate flooring:
Safety goggles protect your eyes, especially when you're cutting the laminate to size when laying the planks and fitting your laminate edging.
You'll spend most of your time on the floor when you lay laminate flooring. Using knee pads offers extra protection, especially if you're fitting the flooring in large rooms that require more time to complete the job.
Whether you're using a hand saw or jigsaw, there's likely to be dusty debris from cutting laminate planks. Use a dust mask to prevent breathing in any harmful materials.
Wearing ear muffs protects your ears because, let's face it, cutting laminate is not a quiet process!
Before you fit - or even purchase - laminate flooring, you need to ensure it is suitable for your room. Laminate is versatile in its design, meaning it can be laid in most areas of your home. There are, however, some considerations.
In your home
When you lay laminate flooring in your home, it's important to consider whether your flooring is suitable for that particular room.
As you can see from the room suitability chart above, laminate flooring can be installed in most areas within your home. However, rooms with high levels of moisture require extra caution and thought.
While laminate is water resistant, it isn't waterproof. In areas such as kitchens and bathrooms, large spillages and prolonged exposure to moisture causes lasting damage to your flooring.
Although it's not advised, if you are fitting laminate flooring in either of these two areas, ensure you clean up any spills as quickly as possible.
For high-traffic rooms that may see a lot of people coming and going, such as hallways and living areas, laminate's durability makes it the perfect choice.
Its HDF (high-density fibreboard) core, as well as a scratch-proof protective wear layer, gives it added strength.
For commercial properties
If you're installing laminate flooring for commercial purposes, such as shop floors, you'll need to ensure your flooring has a high AC (abrasion class) rating.
A laminate floor's AC rating describes how durable the floor is. It receives its rating through a number of rigorous tests, and it must pass all of these in order to receive a rating at all.
For commercial use, we recommend using a laminate rated either AC4 or AC5. The higher the AC rating, the more suitable it is for heavy traffic, which makes it perfect for rooms such as office spaces (AC4) all the way up to large department stores and public buildings (AC5).
Measuring a Room for Laminate
When you measure a room for flooring that comes in packs, such as laminate flooring, you need to work out the area of the room in square metres.
You can also use feet, but for the purpose of this guide we'll be using metres. This is the standard unit of measurement we use on the Direct Wood Flooring website.
To do this, take two measurements in your room. The measurements should be of the longest and widest parts of your room.
Take into account any windows or alcoves, and take measurements to half-way into your door frame. If it helps, sketch the outline of your room and write your measurements down.
Top tip: Take two measurements for both the length and width of your room. Not all rooms are perfectly symmetrical, so taking two measurements and using the larger one gives you better accuracy when ordering your flooring.
With the above example, we have two measurements: 4.5 metres and 5 metres. To get the area of this room, we multiply these two measurements together to get 22.5m².
In order to allow for wastage, we recommend you add 10% to the area. To do this, simply times the area by 1.1 on a calculator. For this example, 22.5 multiplied by 1.1 gives us a final area of 24.75m².
Once you have the area of your room, you need to work out how many packs of your chosen flooring you need.
On each laminate flooring product page, there's a section of detailed information relevant to that specific product. In amongst the plank dimensions, you'll see the pack size in square metres.
To work out the number of packs you need, take your room's area and divide it by the pack size. Then, round up to the nearest whole number to get your final number of packs.
Going back to our example measurements, we'd take the 24.75m² area and divide it by the 2.39m² pack size: 24.75 ÷ 2.39 = 10.3, which we'd then round up to 11 packs. This would be the final number of laminate flooring packs you need.
If you'd prefer us to do the work for you, head to the product page of your chosen flooring. Then, simply click the "How many packs do I need to order?" link underneath the blue sample button.
You'll then be asked to enter your measurements, and we'll automatically add the 10% wastage and work out the number of packs you require. It's the easiest way!
Preparation and Planning
There are a number of considerations and steps to preparing to lay laminate flooring. Prior planning is one of the most important parts of any DIY job, and installing laminate is no different.
All of our laminate floors feature a click-lock system for easy installation. However, some floors from other providers may only have a traditional tongue and groove. Ensure you check the manufacturer guidelines.
This is how a tongue and groove looks on click-lock laminate. Notice the overhang on the "tongue" to identify which is which.
Preparing your subfloor
Removing old flooring
Laminate flooring requires a smooth, level surface that is clean and clear of debris.
Preparing the subfloor is important, as it has a direct effect on the lifespan of your flooring. Any existing flooring, such as carpet or tiles, must be removed beforehand.
Subfloors with uneven surfaces cause the boards to damage over time due to excessive pressure. An even subfloor increases the lifespan of your flooring, and therefore means an even laminate floor once it has been laid.
If your subfloor needs repairing, read our handy guide on how to repair damaged wood and concrete subfloors.
A subfloor needs to be both level and clean before laminate flooring can be installed.
If it doesn't require repairs, we recommend a simple clean with a vacuum, or sweep to remove any dust and dirt.
If your subfloor still has old adhesive from the previous flooring, make sure this is removed by either scraping it off, or sanding if required.
You also need to remove any excess moisture from your subfloor. High levels of moisture may lead to water damage to your flooring. Ensuring your subfloor is completely dry prevents any such issues from occurring.
First of all, look for any visible water stains to see if there may be an ongoing moisture problem you need to investigate.
If everything looks okay to the naked eye, the next step is to check your subfloor's moisture levels. You can do this by purchasing a testing kit online.
The moisture content of your subfloor should remain below 12%. You can also test the room's humidity levels using a hygrometer. Between 46-65% relative humidity (RH) is ideal.
If you find that your subfloor does have high levels of moisture, there are a number of ways you can combat them to prevent damage to your flooring.
The DPM prevents moisture rising from your subfloor into your laminate flooring, and is a cost-effective solution to avoiding moisture damage to your flooring.
Above all, however, we recommend you use an underlay with built-in DPM.
Acclimatising your laminate flooring
As with any wooden floor, laminate flooring requires some time to adapt to its new surroundings.
It's most likely the packs of flooring you've just had delivered have been stored in a cold warehouse, and then in the back of delivery vehicles. Your property is bound to have varying levels of moisture as well as a different temperature.
This is why it's important to let your laminate flooring acclimatise in the room it's going to be fitted in. Simply stack the boxes of flooring, leaving them unopened, in the room it will be later installed. Leave them there for 48 hours, which is enough time for them to get used to their new environment.
The reason we do this is because laminate flooring expands and contracts. The natural material in the planks is susceptible to change from different temperatures and humidity levels. By leaving your floor in the area for a couple of days, it has time to adjust.
If you were to immediately lay laminate flooring, it's likely to expand or shrink. This could lead to your floor buckling and cracks appearing, or even leave gaps appearing between boards that were once perfectly fit together.
It's a vitally important step to leave your laminate for 48 hours to give it time to acclimatise.
While many may see it as an option extra, the many benefits of using underlay when installing laminate flooring make it a priority.
- Underlay adds extra comfort underfoot. Rather than your floor being laid directly onto a hard subfloor, a soft cushioning layer provides a little added bounce which makes it comfortable to walk on.
- Aside from comfort, underlay increases the lifespan of your new laminate flooring. The soft layer gives it extra protection over years of use.
- Using underlay provides additional sound-proofing in your home. The extra layer between your flooring and subfloor minimizes noise, which is especially important for upstairs room.
- Underlay also acts as an insulator, giving extra warmth to your home and may even save you money on heating bills.
When using underlay with laminate flooring, there are a number of different types suitable for use.
An underlay with in-built DPM protects your flooring, when installed over a concrete subfloor, from moisture damage.
If you're installing laminate flooring over an underfloor heating system, you'll require an underlay that's suitable for this purpose.
Many people choose fibreboard underlay for both wood and laminate flooring alike. Fibreboard offers great heat insulation, and is useful for covering small indentations or protrusions in your subfloor.
This may the best choice for you if your subfloor isn't perfectly level, as fibreboard will give you a level surface even with protrusions up to 3mm thick.
If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well. Before you begin to lay laminate flooring, we recommend following these top tips to ensure the perfect install:
- The thickness of your laminate, underlay and door threshold may prevent the door opening and closing in your room. It's worth testing this beforehand; if this is the case, you'll need to remove your door and trim the bottom to allow enough room for your flooring.
- When you fit your flooring, leave a 10-15mm expansion gap between laminate planks and the wall. As with all wood flooring types, laminate expands and contracts in different environments. By adding an expansion gap, your floor has room to expand without putting pressure on the joins. Without this gap, your floor could buckle or even crack. Later in this guide, we'll tell you how to hide this gap using laminate floor edging.
- We recommend staggering the joins of planks running side-by-side. If the joins are too close together, small areas with lots of joins may look a little "crowded". A distance of around 300mm between joins is enough.
- The final row of planks should be at least 60mm wide. Any thinner than this, and your floor will look uneven. Take a measurement of your room and work out the width of your last row, also taking into account the expansion gap. If your last row is less than 60mm, you'll need to cut your first row to allow for more space in the final row you lay.
- You can lay your flooring either horizontally or vertically. Vertically will elongate a room and works great if pointing towards a window, as it will follow the natural light. Laying laminate flooring horizontally will can make a small room appear larger. Most people prefer to lay their boards parallel with the room's longest wall. If you're laying your flooring over a wooden subfloor, install them at a 90 degree angle to the existing wooden board. This provides extra stability.
- You may want to do a practice lay of your flooring to ensure you're happy with the spacing between joins and how your final flooring may look. This is great for testing which way you'd like to lay your boards, as well as estimating how much cutting is required.
- Lay your underlay the same direction as your laminate, making sure to leave a gap around the edge of radiator pipes.
- To ensure your flooring rows run perfectly straight, you'll need to run a string line. To do this, take the width of your laminate plank and add the expansion gap. Measure this distance from the wall and gently hammer a nail into the spot. Repeat this at the other end of the room, then run a string line between the two nails. This is the line you should line up your first row against to ensure they're perfectly straight.
- Begin installing your floor from the upper left corner of your room's longest wall, fitting each plank left to right.
Installing Laminate Flooring
Now that all of the planning and preparation is complete, and you know how to manage difficult obstacles such as door frames, it's now time to lay your laminate flooring.
To lay laminate flooring, we use something called a floating installation. This means it isn't glued to the subfloor, and instead "floats" above it. This usually means a comfier floor to walk on, and also makes replacing any damaged planks much easier if needed.
- If using underlay, lay it across the subfloor to cover the entire area and join with tape.
- Lay your first plank in the left corner of the room, with the "tongue" side facing the wall. This is the edge where the plank overhangs, and allows the next row to simply click into place. Once in place, move it slightly away from the wall and use your flooring spacers to create the expansion gap.
- Take the second plank in the row and line it up with the first. For laminates with a click-lock system, it should simply be a case of clicking these into place. Remember to keep the expansion gap consistent along the wall by using more spacers.
- Continue in this way until you're unable to lay any more full planks. Check the row is perfectly straight using your string line. For the final plank, turn it around so you're not cutting off the click-system, lay your final plank parallel to the first row and against the spacer on the end wall, then use a pencil and ruler to draw a cutting line.
- Clamp the plank so it's secure on your workbench, then take a jigsaw and cut along the line. The plank remaining should then simply click into place at the end of your first row.
- To start the next row, use the offcut from the previous plank. If the offcut is less than 300mm long, cut a full laminate plank in half and use this to start the second row.
- Remembering to use a spacer between the wall and laminate, lift the plank up at an angle and press it up against the first row. Gently pivot the plank back down to secure the rows together.
- Use the tapping block to push together any planks that don't perfectly align.
- To lay the next plank, lift it at an angle again and line up the short side with the previous plank. As you gently lower the plank, the two short sides should click together.
- Continue to lay your laminate flooring using the same process, cutting planks as needed to ensure enough space between joins.
- For the final row, use the pull bar and hammer to gently join with the previous row and ensure a snug fit.
How to Fit Laminate Flooring Video
Fitting Around Corners, Door Frames, Radiator Pipes and Stairs
One of the difficulties with installing laminate flooring is how to manoeuvre common obstacles found in most rooms.
Areas such as corners, door frames, radiator pipes and stairs require extra care during the fitting process. Here's how to tackle them with minimal stress.
Fitting around corners
Fitting laminate flooring around corners is a simple job, which just requires a little cutting to ensure a clean fit.
Place the laminate plank against the corner. Where the plank meets the wall, add the expansion gap and mark with a pencil. This gives you the width of the cut you need.
To get the length, place the plank along the side of the wall and mark the length. Then, use a set square to clearly mark out the area that needs to be cut away.
Finally, clamp the plank to your workbench and use a jigsaw to cut the shape. Fit the board into place and ensure a tight fit.
To fit laminate flooring around door frames, there are two main approaches to consider.
Firstly, you can undercut your door frame to make space for your laminate flooring to fit underneath. This is considered the easiest approach to fitting laminate around door frames.
Take a piece of laminate and your underlay, then put these up against your door. Make a pencil line across the width of your door at the line your flooring and underlay reach.
Then, take a hand saw to cut into your door frame at the pencil line. Using a chisel and hammer, tap the wood below the wood line to create a gap your flooring will fit under.
Once the excess door frame wood has been removed, take your flooring and underlay again and ensure the gap is big enough for both to fit under.
The second approach is more technical, and requires intricate cutting on the laminate plank to perfectly fit the shape of your door frame. This is time consuming, not to mention difficult, and may require some sealant to hide unsightly gaps.
This kind of install is best left to professionals, and we therefore recommend using the undercut approach for the best results.
Fitting laminate flooring around radiator pipes is a simple process:
- Lay the laminate plank next to the radiator pipe, with the short side against the wall
- Use a pencil and ruler to draw a line along the width of the plank, in line with the middle of the pipe
- Move the laminate so the short side is now against the pipe
- Draw a line down the length of the plank, in line with the centre of the pipe, so both lines intersect. This gives you the centre point of the radiator pipe on your laminate plank
- Clamp your laminate to a workbench. Use a drill bit to large enough to allow room for your radiator pipe, and drill a hole over the centre point of the intersecting lines. This is where your radiator pipe will fit
- Draw two straight pencil lines from the hole to the short side of the plank
- Use a jigsaw to cut along these lines and save the wood offcut
- Slide the laminate so the radiator pipe fits into the hole, then glue the wood offcut back into place.
To fit laminate around the bottom of staircases, for example in your hallway, we recommend using the same technique as fitting around door frames.
Undercut the bottom of your stairs the same as you would with a door frame. This prevents the need for complex cutting on your laminate planks, and ensures a neat and tidy finish.
How to Fit Laminate Floor Edging
While an expansion gap serves a very necessary purpose, there's no denying it looks unsightly.
Laminate edging, often referred to as scotia or beading, completes the look of your flooring. We use edging to hide the expansion gap between your laminate flooring and wall or skirting boards.
Laminate scotia/edging creates the perfect finish to your flooring. Edging is colour-matched to your flooring, but if you can't find an exact match - or one you're happy with - many people choose white.
As part of ordering your free samples from Direct Wood Flooring, you can also order free samples of scotia to ensure you're happy with the colour match.
Use a mitre box to cut a 45 degree on the edging with either a circular saw or hand saw. Do the same on a second piece of edging, and glue together to create a corner.
To install the laminate edging, simply apply a thin layer of adhesive to the back and glue it to the wall. Use panel pins to hold it in place. You can then leave these in, or remove later should you wish.
You should never glue edging to the floor, as this can damage the laminate if it ever needs to be removed.
Repeat the above steps to fit the rest of your scotia/beading, cutting where necessary to ensure a snug fit.
Radiator rings are a simple finishing accessory that make a huge difference to your room's final look.
Real wood radiator rings come in two parts. You simply need to position them around your radiator pipe and click them together.
Some radiator rings come in one piece, and with a small gap in the ring you can easily fit this around the radiator pipe to complete the look.
There are a number of different door thresholds you can use when installing laminate flooring.
Often called "profiles", they cover the join between two rooms, and the type you use depends on the different floor coverings and their heights.
End Profiles: Use these between flooring and walls
T-Profiles: Use these between floors of the same height
Ramp Profiles: Use these between floors of different heights
Multi-Use Profiles: Can be used with floors of the same or different heights
Depending on your doorway's width, you may need to cut the threshold to size. You may also need glue to hold the threshold in place to ensure a good fit.
How to Fit Laminate on Stairs
Fitting laminate flooring on stairs is a subject that needs a guide all of its own. Luckily, we've got just the thing.
Read our guide on how to fit laminate flooring on stairs here.
Aftercare and Maintenance
Once installed, your laminate flooring requires proper care and maintenance to ensure it lasts as long as possible.
With new laminate flooring, you want it to look perfect for years to come. The first step to ensuring this is taking steps to minimise the chances of damage occurring.
- Use felt pads on the bottom of furniture legs to prevent dents and scratches
- Heavier furniture could benefit from protective mats underneath, especially if they may need to be moved in the future
- Place mats at any doors leading outside. They help to collect any dirt, grit and other substances that would otherwise end up on your floor
- Apply rubber underlayment to the back of any rugs to avoid them moving around
- Regularly trim any pets' nails to prevent them scratching your floor
- Clean up any spills as quickly as possible to prevent water damage
Cleaning a laminate floor
One of the key benefits of a laminate floor is how easy it is to clean.
However, there are a number of cleaning methods you should avoid. Here's a quick overview of the do's and don'ts when cleaning laminate flooring:
- Sweep or vacuum your laminate regularly, which prevents build-up of dirt - even if it's not immediately visible
- A soft-bristled brush is best to avoid scratches
- Only use a slightly damp mop to clean once surface dirt has been swept away
- Use warm water to remove more stubborn dirt
- Only use a floor cleaner that's approved for use with laminate flooring
- Use an all-in-one laminate cleaning kit for best results
- Use vacuum cleaners with a beater bar attachment - make sure it's removed before use
- Clean using steam cleaners - the high moisture levels are likely to cause irreversible damage
- Use a really wet mop like you would on a tiled floor
- Clean your floor with harsh detergents such as bleach, which can permanently discolour the laminate's design layer
- Use abrasive cleaning pads such as steel wool
- Try cleaning with any home remedies - only use a floor cleaner that's approved for use on laminate flooring
- Avoid over-saturating the floor - use the cleaner sparingly
- Polish or wax laminate floors - the top layer is essentially a printed image, so this could cause damage in the long run
To summarise, you should only use a brush/vacuum and a slightly damp mop to clean a laminate floor.
Even for tougher cleans, it's better to mop the floor a few times, using a little elbow grease, which is better for your floor long-term.
Even with proper care and maintenance, accidents happen.
You may find yourself in a position where your laminate flooring has been damaged. Whether down to an accident or simple wear and tear, there are steps you can take to repair any damage.
A laminate floor repair kit is ideal for repairing unsightly scratches and small cracks. They're incredibly easy to use, just check out this video from Stroolmount:
If the damage is irreparable, you may need to replace one of the planks of laminate flooring. This is a little trickier, so you may want to enlist the help of a professional flooring fitter.
If you're comfortable making the replacement yourself, we have a full guide on how to repair and replace laminate flooring, which you can read here.
Fitting Laminate Flooring Cost
So, with the above considered, you're probably wondering how much this is going to cost.
One of the many benefits of laminate flooring is its cheap price when compared to real wood flooring.
With that being said, if you're a novice at DIY then you may not have the tools required to carry out the job.
To make it easier, we've created a list of the costs you may face when you decide to lay laminate flooring yourself.
The cost of a professional fitter regularly depends on level of skill and location, in addition to the room size and how long it may take to complete the job.
Many flooring fitters will charge around £10 per square metre of flooring, so the costs rise if you're fitting laminate flooring in a larger room.
Some fitters prefer to charge a day rate, which is typically £150-£200 depending on your location. As can be predicted, fitters based in the South East and London often require a fee at the top end of this scale.
If you consider an average room size of 5m x 4m, you could be looking at £200 in fitter fees. Factoring in the cost of your underlay, laminate and finishing touches, these costs can at least double.
If your room requires extra work, such as subfloor repairs, expect these costs to rise even further.
Lay laminate flooring yourself
Many people view a DIY laminate installation as the cheaper option. While this may be the case for many, it really depends on whether you already have the tools you need.
You'll also find our cost for items such as adhesive and fitting kits:
- Laminate fitting kit (includes flooring spacers, tapping block and pull bar) - £9.99
- Workbench - £46
- Clamps - £13
- Set square - £15
- Mitre box - £8
- Jigsaw - £109
- Circular saw - £97
- Power drill - £100
- Chisel - £7
- Hammer - £12
- Tape measure - £5
- Panel pins - £2
- Wood glue - £6
- String line - £8
- Safety goggles - £5
- Knee pads - £7
- Dust mask - £2
- Ear muffs - £5
As you can see, the cost of fitting tools can soon add up.
If you needed everything in this list, you're looking at an investment of over £450 - and that doesn't include the cost of your laminate, underlay and other materials.
Of course, if you have a large room and fitting costs may exceed the amount buying the tools will cost, laying the laminate yourself is a viable option.
However, for small rooms it may be difficult to justify the cost.
With that being said, you may know someone who could lend you the tools, or you could even rent them for a much lower price than it would cost to purchase outright.
Plus, if you already have many of the tools in this list you're saving a lot of money already.
When fitting laminate flooring, there's a lot more to consider than how to fit.
Alongside room suitability and preparation, there's upfront costs and ongoing maintenance to consider.
It's always recommended you familiarise yourself with manufacturer guidelines. Some flooring may behave differently or have slightly different requirements, so always check before you go ahead with your installation.
If you're convinced you're ready to lay laminate flooring, and just need to choose your favourite, our huge range of laminate flooring has you covered - whatever your style or budget.