When you purchase brand new flooring, you want the best quality. This expectation of quality doesn’t stop with the product, either. Once your new flooring arrives, it need to be fitted to the highest standard. Whilst we may not offer a fitting service here at Direct Wood Flooring, you can check out our guide on how to find yourself a wood flooring fitter for some helpful tips. If you’re handy with your DIY and would like to fit it yourself, we’ve put together this handbook on how to lay Laminate Flooring to guide you through the process.
Laminate Flooring Composition
It helps to do your research and know what exactly Laminate is made from. Laminate Flooring isn’t made from solid wood, rather multiple layers of high density fibreboard (HDF). Often known as hardboard, HDF is constructed from pressed wood that’s bonded together at high temperatures. Layers of this hardboard forms the material from which Laminate Flooring is made.
The wood effect you see on top is actually a printed image, which is then treated to give it the finished look. Laminate often comes with life-like impressions in the wood to give it a true effect.
Why Choose Laminate Flooring?
There are many arguments for and against Laminate (as there is for every flooring option). The main reasons to choose Laminate Flooring are:
- Layers of HDF mean that Laminate is more durable that solid wood, and offers more protection against scratches and general wear-and-tear.
- Both the material and installation costs of Laminate are cheaper than hardwood, meaning it is altogether a more cost-effective alternative to real wood.
- Although Laminate can’t be sanded down and re-finished like real wood, if it’s been installed as a floating floor, a damaged plank is easy to replace.
Now that you understand what makes up Laminate Flooring, the next thing you need to do is assess your room’s suitability. If your room has any moisture-related issues, Laminate should be avoided. Although it offers more protection against moisture than real wood, ongoing issues with damp will definitely cause problems in the future. Moisture issues need to completely fixed before you lay your flooring.
Laminate is perfect for living rooms, dining areas, bedrooms, staircases and even kitchens. However, you do need to be mindful of extreme changes in moisture or temperature, and ensure any spills are completely cleaned straight away. Excess moisture can lead to warping in the future, so it’s best to avoid regular exposure to water.
See more: Where Can I Lay Laminate Flooring?
The Tools You Need
Before you fit your brand new flooring, you need to make sure you’ve got the right tools; many of them you’ll already have in your tool box. For those you don’t, most DIY outlets will have the rest.
Some of the tools you may need include:
- Laminate Fitting Kit (includes tapping block, crow bar and spacers)
- Steel Square
- Ruler/Tape Measure
- Stanley Knife
- Mitre Saw (for larger cuts)
- Jigsaw (for small and fiddly cuts)
- Stanley Knife
- Power Drill (to cut radiator pipe holes if needed)
- Safety Goggles
- Knee Pads
- Masking Tape
- Vacuum Cleaner
Preparing Your Subfloor
You need to make sure your subfloor is completely dry before laying anything on top of it. Alongside this, it should be level and as smooth as possible. If the surface is uneven, this creates excessive pressure on the boards when they’re walked over. Plus, an even subfloor means an even floor once it’s laid. Finally, it should be structurally sound, if your subfloor is wooden, ensure it’s in good condition – especially if it is old. The same goes for a concrete subfloor. Our full guide on how to prepare your subfloor elaborates on each of these points if you’d like more information.
Underlay is a crucial part of laying your Laminate Flooring. The type of underlay you go for will depend on your individual requirements. If you are fitting your Laminate in a room that will have moisture, underlay that includes damp-proof membrane is needed to offer extra protection.
Your choice will also depend on your preference. A thicker underlay provides more sound-proofing and will feel softer underfoot. This is worth considering if you’re fitting an upstairs room.
Lay the underlay across your subfloor and trim it down to fit. Make sure the lengths are laid parallel, then fit together using masking tape. Once you’d got your underlay ready, it’s time to start fitting your Laminate Flooring.
How to Lay Laminate Flooring
So, you’ve checked through your room’s suitability, prepared your subfloor and laid your underlay. Now it’s time to lay your brand new Laminate Flooring! Here it is, step-by-step.
Choose which direction you’d like your boards to lay through the room. Boards that follow the eye line from the doorway can make a room look longer and increase its depth. If you’d like to create the illusion of a wider space, horizontally-laid works best. If you have a wooden subfloor, the Laminate should lay so it goes across the joists.
Begin in one corner of the room and lay the first row of boards with the tongue side facing the wall. The click system that Laminate Flooring uses means the boards should simply click together.
Place your spacers from your Laminate Fitting Kit between the wall and the boards to allow for an 8-10mm expansion gap.
You may need to cut the final board to make sure it fits. Use the square to mark where you need to cut on the back of the board (bearing in mind the spacers that will be there for expansion gap). The off-cut can be used to start the next row. This is how the desired staggered look is achieved with Laminate.
Continue to lay the planks side by side to create new rows. Ensure you use the spacers throughout to maintain the same size gap between all of the planks and the wall. Use the crow bar and hammer to make sure all of the planks are fitted tightly together.
When you get to the last row, you need to measure how wide it needs to be and then cut accordingly. A simple way to do this is to place the plank on top of the second-to-last row, and then lay a third on top which fits against the wall (again, allowing for the expansion gap). Use a pencil to mark when the board comes up to, and you know exactly how much you’ll need to cut.
This is the trickiest bit when it comes to laying Laminate Flooring. It’s worth doing right, as it can affect how the entire floor looks once it’s finished. The simplest way to fit laminate around your door frames is to undercut your frame and then slot the board underneath. You’ll need to measure the thickness of your Laminate, and then cut the right amount away. Using a handsaw is recommended if you’re going to use this method.
If you can’t undercut your door frame, you’ll need to cut the laminate to the correct shape. Make sure you get your measurements right before marking them on your floorboard. Then, secure the Laminate in place and use a jigsaw to cut it to shape. Then, fit it like you have the rest of the boards and ensure it’s secured in place.
Lay the Laminate board next to the radiator pipe before using pencil to draw a line along its width in line with the centre of the pipe. Then, lay the end of the board up to the pipe and draw an intersecting line from the centre of the pipe again.
This will give you the exact place you need to drill. Clamp your Laminate to a workbench, and then use a flat wood drill bit to drill a hole. Make sure the drill bit is big enough to allow for expansion.
Once you’ve cut the hole, draw two lines to the end of the board and cut. This will allow you to slide the pipe through the wood to get to the hole. Once fitted, use adhesive to attach the wood and cover with radiator rings to hide the expansion hole.
To create the perfect finish to your brand new flooring, choosing the right scotia and beading will create a seamless look. Cut corners where needed, and apply a thin line of adhesive to the back to attach the trim to the skirting board – you don’t want to stick the trim to the floor. Use some heavy materials to keep it in place whilst the glue dries.
There you have it, a simple guide on how to lay Laminate Flooring in your home. It can be a complex job, so if there’s anything you’re unsure of we would always suggest using a qualified fitter. Try using The National Institute of Carpet and Floorlayers (NICF) to find your local recognised fitter.
Looking for more information? Why not see our How to Fit Laminate Flooring video below.