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How to Install Laminate Flooring on Wood Subfloor

Updated on June 26, 2017
Ashish Dadgaa profile image

Ashish Dadgaa is a Construction Manager with 10 years of experience in the Industry. He writes about Home Improvement and maintenance.

Laying Laminate Flooring
Laying Laminate Flooring

Are you tired of your old carpet? Are you looking for something new and easy to maintain? Yes, then you are at the right place. Laminate flooring is durable, economical, and easy to lay.

Installing it is easy due to angle-to-angle and drop-lock fitting systems. I will show you through every stage of installation, including work-arounds for difficulties like baseboards and working around radiator pipes.

It took me less than ten hours to install my laminate flooring. You can do this. Are you ready?

Where NOT to Use Laminate

  • It is a great choice for every room excepting laundry rooms and bathrooms because laminates may distort and crumple in humidity.
  • It works very well in the kitchen as long as you clean it with a damp but not soaking-wet mop.
  • You can use laminate in foyers but it should not come into contact with rain or snow.

COMPLEXITY
TIME
COST
Simple
9.5 Hours
Under $100

Tools and Materials

Tools

  • Broom
  • Dust pan & brush
  • Square
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Tape Measure
  • Hammer
  • Craft Knife
  • Scissors
  • Knee pads
  • Tapping block
  • Hammer
  • Jigsaw
  • Power drill
  • Wood chisel
  • Scotia cutters

Materials

  • Damp Proof Membrane
  • 3mm think polyform underlay
  • Laminate flooring
  • Measure tape
  • Wood adhesive
  • Pipe collar
  • Flooring trim

Select the Right Kind of Flooring

Floor Type
Floor Thickness
Under floor Hearing
Living room & Bedroom
Bathroom and Kitchen
Commercial Use
Laminate flooring
Laminate 5 & 8mm
Engineered flooring
Laminate 10mm
 
Laminate 12mm

Engineered vs. Laminate: What's the Difference?

Laminate is synthetic board with a surface layer printed to look like wood under a protective film. Laminate is made of fiberboard and melamine resin. Its shell looks like real wood, but it isn't.

Engineered flooring is made up of softwood. It's manmade of several wood or plywood layers.

Both types have angle-to-angle and drop-lock fitting systems which give smooth and even surface.

Step 1

Clean the Surface

You will need to clean and mop the surface where you are going to lay the flooring. Remove the paint, glue, or any other particles sticking to the floor with a help of metal knife. It is also essential to ensure that the subfloor is appropriately leveled. You need subfloor to be smooth, dry, leveled, and swept clean.

Mop the surface before laying laminate flooring.
Mop the surface before laying laminate flooring. | Source

Step 2

Measure Up

Measure the length of your room, then measure the width and multiply them together to get the area in square meters. Most laminate packs contain approximately 2 square meters of flooring so divide your total room area by 2 and round up to find out how many packs you will need. Add 10% for unusable offcuts.

If you are using a flooring trim (baseboard), then do not forget to measure the perimeter of your room and add 10% for any unusable offcuts.

For example:

Area = 13.8 Sq.m.

No. of Packs = 13.8 / 2 = 6.9 = 7 packs

Add 10% = 7.7 = 8 packs

Step 3

Lay a Damp-Proof Membrane

Lay the damp-proof membrane on the surface of the subfloor. Use moisture-resistant adhesive tape to affix it. You can overlap the membrane but make sure that you cover the entire surface of the room. (Wear knee pads, as you will have to kneel down a lot.)

Lay the damp proof membrane on the subfloor.
Lay the damp proof membrane on the subfloor.

Step 4

Lay 3mm Polyfoam Underlay

Lay a 3mm polyfoam underlay on top of the damp-proof membrane. Ensure that you leave a 10mm expansion gap at the periphery and around radiator pipes. Try not to let it overlap. Trim it to fit and tape it down.

3mm polyfoam underlay on the top of damp proof membrane with 10mm expansion gap at the periphery and around the radiator pipes.
3mm polyfoam underlay on the top of damp proof membrane with 10mm expansion gap at the periphery and around the radiator pipes.
Subfloor fully covered with 3mm polyfoam underlay.
Subfloor fully covered with 3mm polyfoam underlay.

Step 5

Acclimatize the Boards

Keep the unopened laminate flooring boxes in the room where you are going to lay the floor. Wait 48 hours before you start the installation so the material has time to adjust to the room temperature. This will reduce the shrinkage in the future.

Keep the laminate flooring boxes in the room for 48 hours before installation.
Keep the laminate flooring boxes in the room for 48 hours before installation. | Source

Step 6

Decide the Direction of the Boards

The ideal direction for laying flooring.
The ideal direction for laying flooring.

Install your laminate flooring parallel to the long wall. However, if you have a neighboring room that you aren't re-flooring, then it will be ideal to install these new boards in the same direction. If you have a square room, install the flooring in the direction of incoming sunlight.

How to Lay Flooring Boards

Step 1

Start to lay first board from the one corner of the room, with the short tongue end touching the wall. At the both ends of the wall, insert expansion spacers.

Lay first board from the one corner of the room with expansion spacers at the both ends.
Lay first board from the one corner of the room with expansion spacers at the both ends. | Source

Step 2

Now lay the another board, fixing its short tongue in the long tongue of the first. The board will lock into its place when you lower it. In boards with a drop lock system, you will have to utilize downward action and push the tongue of the second panel into the first panel’s groove. Once you fix the locking, listen for a click. This will ensure that the boards are well connected. You may have to cut the last board to get it to fit into place. Now, you have one line of boards complete.

Laminate flooring with drop lock system.
Laminate flooring with drop lock system. | Source

Step 3

Now at this point, because you want the ends of boards to fall at different spots and never coincide, you will have to cut a board in the middle and start fixing the second row as you did the first. Ensure that you cut the board at a perfect 90 degrees.

Start the second row with a half cut board. For easy and quick fixing, you can attach few boards together before fixing them in place and locking them with the side of the first row.

Cutting laminate flooring from the center.
Cutting laminate flooring from the center. | Source

Step 4

As you work, you may observe a gap between the first and second row. With the help of a tapping block and hammer, you can join them firmly. Ensure that you utilise your tapping block while hammering, as it equally spreads the hammering force and prevents damage. If you knock the board without using tapping block, then you might damage it.

Fixing laminate flooring joints with the help of tapping block and hammer.
Fixing laminate flooring joints with the help of tapping block and hammer. | Source

Step 5

Lay more rows, tapping them in place, ensuring that they are locked into each other, and taking care not to let the ends match up with the ends of boards in the previous row.

Step 6

If you have a radiator in the room, on the board that will meet the pipe, mark the pipe hole with a pencil. Drill it and then fix the board into the place. Ensure that you leave a 10mm expansion gap from the wall. Use wood adhesive to stick the wedge in position. After you're done, clean the extra adhesive and conceal the expansion hole with a pipe collar.

Laminate flooring around the radiator pipe.
Laminate flooring around the radiator pipe.

Step 7

In doorways, if the architrave (door frame) goes beyond the skirting, then do not trip the laminate board to fix it. Better if you cut the architrave with a flay saw and remove pieces of wood with a wood chisel. Thus, the underlay and flooring will remain below and you will get neat and clean finish around the door frame.

Laying flooring around the architrave.
Laying flooring around the architrave.

Step 8

A threshold bar fits in a doorway to make a clean joint between rooms. If you are laying laminate up to but not through a threshold, then you will have to conceal the important expansion gap across the entrance. You have to cautiously measure and mark a notch to be trimmed from each end of the threshold bar so that it will fix flawlessly against the doorstops on both sides.

Threshold bar fixing in a doorway.
Threshold bar fixing in a doorway. | Source

Step 9

The last finishing touch is floor trim (aka baseboard). Measure the periphery of the room and cut the material accordingly. To cut the corners to a 45-degree angle you can use scotia cutters. Apply adhesive to the back of the trim so it will fix on the skirting rather than on the floor and this will allow the material to contract and expand. Now remove the expansion spacer and press the trim gently and hold it until the adhesive dries.

Fixing floor trim (baseboard) as a finishing touch.
Fixing floor trim (baseboard) as a finishing touch. | Source

How to Lay Laminate Flooring

Helpful Hints & Tips

  • Start each row with half of the board from the preceding row as it will reduce your wastage and It will make the floor sturdy as well. If you are going to lay floor with this technique, then it will be very difficult to spot the joints and floor will look jointless.
  • Be very careful with difficult cuts (such as around a radiator, doorway architrave, or baseboard), because if you cut it wrong, you will not able to use it and it will increase your wastage.
  • Don't use a hammer directly on the laminate. It might break.

Health & Safety

  • Be aware of children when working and do not let them use power tools
  • Do not forget to wear safety gear like gloves and goggles.
  • Wear a dust mask while drilling and cutting.
  • Always make sure electricity is switched off at the main before carrying out any electrical work.
  • Use appropriate ear and eye protection while operating a table saw.
  • Handle box cutters and saws with care as they are sharp.

© 2017 Ashish Dadgaa

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    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 7 months ago

      Thank you for sharing your gift of a hub. Hardwood floors.

    • Ashish Dadgaa profile image
      Author

      Ashish Dadgaa 7 months ago

      @Kiss andTales,

      Thank you so much :)

    • Ashish Dadgaa profile image
      Author

      Ashish Dadgaa 7 months ago

      @Sakina,

      Thank you so much Sakina :) Yeah I hope people find this Hub helpful :)

      Wow, that's nice. Show this Hub to your mom, I reckon she would love it ;) :p

      Bless you :)

    • Ashish Dadgaa profile image
      Author

      Ashish Dadgaa 7 months ago

      @SA Williams,

      Thank you so much :)

    • Ashish Dadgaa profile image
      Author

      Ashish Dadgaa 7 months ago

      @Bill,

      Haha...I am glad I produced this article on the right time :) I am happy that this article will be useful for you :)

      Thank you :)

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 7 months ago

      Good hub love hardwood floors

    • SakinaNasir53 profile image

      Sakina Nasir 7 months ago from Kuwait

      Great hub Ashish. I am sure people are going to find this very useful. My mom loves laminated flooring. If we have it done, I'm surely going to refer to your hub. :)

    • simplehappylife profile image

      sannwi 7 months ago

      Great Hub Ashish, very helpful :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      A very helpful tutorial. I actually have to do this in the summer,so this came at the right time for me. Thank you!