How to Install a Laminate Floor

With advanced planning, the right tools and an accurate estimate of time, a laminate floor installation can be completed both efficiently and with complete excellence. For the best result, follow the installation instructions carefully for the product purchased and be sure to use the recommended accessories. Different laminate manufacturers have different locking systems. Be sure to read the instructions carefully prior to beginning the installation.  The proper installation tools make the job easier, protect the flooring from damage – and also ensure that the customer’s full warranty remains effective.

Choosing the Best Direction

A laminate floor becomes a unifying influence in the overall decor if it runs in the same direction throughout the house. The best direction generally depends primarily on the shape of the house; it should run parallel to the longer walls. This isn’t a dictum, though. If you have a long, prominent hallway, you may choose to run the flooring parallel to its walls, even if that means it will run parallel to the short walls in the living room. It’s also important to consider the sightline from the entry; lines running parallel to the sightline are more visually pleasing than those running across it.

Planning Transitions

If you maintain the same direction throughout the house, you probably won’t need to create transitions in the doorways. Whether the planks approach the doorway running parallel to it or perpendicular, you can simply notch them around the jambs. You may need a transition strip if you change the direction of the planks in a doorway, though. The only way to avoid one is to plan the layout so that full planks intersect the doorway to give you an edge to which you can connect perpendicular planks. This is possible, but it’s difficult to plan in a multi-room house.

Using Transition Strips

Transition strips for laminate flooring connect to metal tracks that you screw directly to the subfloor. There needs to be a gap of 1 1/8 inches between the two halves of the transition to accommodate this strip. It helps to install the tracks before you begin laying the floor; you’ll be sure they are in the right places, and you can use them as references for measure your cuts when you come to them. Use T-molding if the planks on both sides of the transition are the same thickness and a reducer strip if they are different thicknesses.

Laying the Floor

Once you’ve decided on the plank direction, you can basically treat the whole house as a single room with obstructions — walls — in the way. The installation starts in the corner of the house and proceeds through the first room until the edge of the flooring extends beyond the walls. It then continues straight into the adjoining rooms unless you change direction with a transition. An essential procedure before starting the installation is to undercut the doorjambs with a hand saw so that the flooring fits underneath it. You should also remove all the doors so they don’t get in the way.