Laminate flooring installation tips from National Floors Direct

6 Things to Know About Installing Laminate Flooring

Did you know that Americans spent around $1 billion on laminate flooring in 2021?

One of the reasons we love it so much is because we've heard that installing laminate flooring is a breeze. In just a few simple steps, you get a floor that looks like it was laid by a professional. But once those packs of laminate flooring arrive, it's natural to start to get a little jittery!

Don't worry. Installing laminate flooring is not hard if you keep a few key points in mind. Depending on how large an area you're covering, in just a few hours you could be the proud owner of a fantastic new floor.

Let's take a closer look at 6 things you need to know.

1. Spend Some Time on the Subfloor

Have you ever walked across bouncy or spongy laminate flooring? That is not a feel you want in your home and the culprit is probably a dodgy subfloor.

Your finished laminate floor will only be as sound and level as the floor beneath. It won't correct anything. And if your subfloor is in bad shape, your laminate will wear out and crack more quickly.

The crucial first stage of flooring installation is leveling out your subfloor and making sure that it is solid.

Wood Subfloors

Walk on every square inch of the floor. If there are any squeaks or creaks, securely screw down the subfloor until it's silent.

Next, go around the whole floor on your hands and knees with a straightedge. If any areas are more than 1/8-inch away from level, you need to even them out.

If the area is too high, a belt sander should be enough to level it out. If it's too low, trowel on down vinyl floor patch. Quick-drying varieties are available. 

Check the floor one final time. When you're satisfied it's squeak-free and level, you're ready to fit your underlayment.

Concrete Subfloors

Concrete subfloors should be level. But don't assume that they are. Take a straightedge and check them out.

Remove any adhesive remaining from previous projects or anything else that makes the floor uneven. If it's really uneven, you may need to lay a self-leveling compound to ensure an even surface.

2. Pick the Right Underlayment

Your underlayment will make a difference in how comfortable and luxurious your laminate wood flooring will feel. 

On a concrete floor, the underlayment will provide a moisture barrier. Usually, foam padding is best. It will provide comfort and keep moisture at bay.

Wooden or plywood floors need to breathe, so look for an underlayment that allows this to happen. Cork is a top-of-the-line option that's natural, breathable, and feels luxurious.

The right underlayment can also help with noise reduction and energy efficiency. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to seal the seams. Using the wrong type of tape could lead to noise and bubbling of the underlayment in the future.

3. Plan Your Design First

When planning how to install laminate flooring you always need to take the taper into account.

The taper refers to the planks that you will need to trim to fit the room. It's extremely unlikely that your laminate flooring will fit perfectly, with no trimming needed at all. You may also find that even in rooms that look square, the walls are not perfectly parallel.

If you start with a full plank from one side, you may be left with an unattractive, skinny, tapered plank against the opposite wall.

To avoid this, plan your design carefully. Aim to start your laminate flooring from the wall that has the most doors. Always use a block style pattern or staggered effect so that the joins don't run in parallel lines.

It's best to plan to trim the laminate on both sides, rather than have it appear uneven. This will make the first and last rows less noticeable.

Struggling to gauge how wide the laminate floor will be when it's down?

It can be hard to calculate the gaps between planks. Grab four planks and click them together. Then use that measurement as your guide.

4. Invest in Laminate Shears

This is the one specialist tool that will make laminate flooring installation much cleaner and simpler. 

Laminate shears are designed to cut laminate flooring that is up to 1 inch thick. They don't produce dust and they're quick and quiet to use. Plus, they have guides to ensure that you make clean, accurate cuts every time.

5. Snap-in Whole Rows

Here's a tip to consider if you're having trouble laying consecutive laminate planks. Although many are designed to be laid that way, it can be a challenge to do so without ruining the edge. 

Instead, try connecting an entire row at the butt ends. Then match up the long edge, and snap the whole thing in place. That keeps both the long edge and butt edge in good condition.

Unlike tongue and groove, you don't usually need to tap laminate into place. If you do, it's easy to destroy the edge. Get around this by taking a scrap and placing the tapping block against it.

That will preserve the edge of the main piece.

6. Allow Expansion Gaps

When installing laminate flooring you need to leave expansion gaps. As the temperature and humidity change throughout the year, the laminate flooring will expand and contract. Without expansion gaps, it could buckle and become uneven.

Usually, a gap of 3/8 of an inch is enough, but check the manufacturer's instructions before proceeding. You'll need to leave this gap around the entire edge of the floor.

Reduce Your Stress When Installing Laminate Flooring

Installing laminate flooring is not too difficult, but like anything, it takes a little forethought to get it done right.

Get yourself some laminate shears and make a plan for your cuts and tapers. Make sure you leave an expansion gap and grab a scrap piece before tapping in the edges.

Of course, if you want to guarantee an outstanding job, then call in the pros. At National Floors Direct, we've got styles to suit every taste and budget. Plus, we offer free, next-day installation.

Call us at 888-400-FLOOR or book a free in-home estimate online today!