In recent years laminate flooring has become a popular alternative to real hardwood floors. For one it’s cheaper, easier to install and now comes in a wide variety of looks and styles. It mimics the look of hardwood floors so closely that it’s often hard to tell the difference. A final – and big – advantage is the fact it’s relatively easy to install for the handy do-it-yourselfer. With only a few tools, some assistance and time, almost anyone can give an old room a fresh update with a hardwood floor look. If you’ve decided to take the plunge and install laminate floors in your home, then read on for instructions and some handy tips for installation.
Before you get started, two things to keep in mind: it’s best if you let the flooring acclimatize to the climate it will be installed in. Remove any plastic wrapping from the boxes and place them all in the room they’ll be laid in for at least 48 hours before installation. Second, when deciding on the direction to lay the flooring, if possible install the planks with their length parallel to incoming sunlight or the largest light source.
- 1. For installation, start in the left corner of the room and lay the first laminate board with the tongue side pointing towards the wall. Join the short edges all the way along the first row while carefully placing spacers between every board and the wall to ensure a straight line and a 10mm gap between this first row and the wall. Use a hammer and knocking block, which can be a scrap piece of flooring to gently push the boards together.
Handy Tip: To get the most visually out of your new flooring, mix planks from several different boxes, the more boxes the better for a more natural final look.
- 2. At the end of the first row, if the last board needs to be cut to fit, simply turn the board 180 degrees and place it under the existing row, groove to groove, and mark it with a pencil where you need to cut it.
Handy Tip: Are you using a handsaw, jigsaw or circular saw? If using a handsaw then make sure to cut with the laminate, or decorative side up. Or stick a piece of masking tape on both sides of the cut line to avoiding chipping the board.
- 3. Start the next row by using the left over piece that was cut from the last plank in the first row. This will help reduce waste and also helps to create a brick-effect for a more natural look. If you didn’t have to cut the last board in the previous row, then simply take a new one and cut it into two pieces about a third along the plank and start with the smaller piece.
- 4. Install the second row by placing the tongue of the board into the groove at a 45-degree angle. Gently fit the laminate board down without pushing too hard. If it doesn’t fit at first, give the board a sharp rap with your hand to fully engage. If there are still any problems, remove the board and check for any dirt or debris in the groove and remove it before trying again. Repeat the same procedure as the first row and then so on for subsequent rows. Do not use a hammer to force the boards into the grooves as it will result in damaging the board.
Handy Tip: Do you have a pipe you need to lay the floor around? If so, lay the plank beside any pipes and mark the position of the pipes on the board, then use a hole saw to drill a hole in the plank about 10mm larger than the actual pipe. Finally, saw across the board to the drilled hole with two small cuts shaped in a V and fit the plank and joint tightly. Then, place the small piece cutout behind the pipe. A radiator pipe collar or molding will hide any gaps left behind or around the pipe.
- 5. Once you reach the last row of flooring, check to see if it will fit into the space. Don’t worry if the planks are too wide as they can be cut length-wise to fit. If your last row needs to be cut simply measure the gap between the existing row and the wall. Deduct 10mm for spacers and cut the final row of boards lengthways. Install this row per the above instructions, although due to the final tight fit against a wall, you may need to use a piece of board or a pull iron tool to lever against the wall.
- 6. Is the entire floor in now? Great, now remove all the your spacers and install molding around the edges of the entire room to cover the expansion gaps left around the edges.