Installation for Laminate Flooring

Installation Types

  • Glueless-Click: easy-to-install, glueless click-lock category which includes over two-thirds of today’s laminates.
  • Glue-Down: joints are glued together which makes for a very strong floor once installed, but installation cost and time is higher than with a glueless-click.
  • Pre-Glued: the joints have glue already applied, which may need to be moistened to activate the adhesive before you join them together. 

Materials Needed

  • Vapor Barrier Paper (if installing on top of concrete)
  • Flooring Adhesive (if using glue-down method)
  • Foam or Cork Underlayment

Tools Needed

  • Spacers
  • Hammer
  • Pry Bar
  • Tapping Block
  • Pencil
  • Measuring Tape
  • Utility Knife
  • Hand Saw
  • Coping Saw
  • Paring Knife

Pre-Installation Tips

  • Stack the Laminate Flooring Before Installation
    Flooring needs to be acclimated in the house for 48 hours prior to installation since temperature and humidity can affect the flooring planks.  Stack the laminate flooring flat on the floor and remove any plastic wrapping from the boxes.  Leave space around each box to allow the air to circulate freely around them.  Since there may be some waste when cutting certain pieces, have about 10% more flooring than the actual square feet of the area of the room where the flooring is to be installed.
  • Clean the Subfloor and Remove the Base Molding
    The subfloor needs to be cleaned to make sure it’s free from any dirt or debris.  If laminate flooring is to be installed on top of a new concrete floor, wait until the concrete is fully cured.  Carefully remove all base molding using a pry bar and hammer and place the molding and set aside.
  • Install the Vapor Barrier
    Begin by laying out the vapor barrier one row at a time from the longest wall of the room.  Follow the manufacturer’s directions when joining two sheets of barrier together, because some manufacturers will direct you to overlap the vapor barrier while others will have you butt each row against the previous one.
  • Trim the Door Jambs
    Take a piece of flooring and lay it flat on the subfloor and up against the door jambs, and use it as a guide to mark the jambs so that the new flooring can slide beneath the jamb.  Cut the jambs parallel to the subfloor using a “flat” saw or a coping saw, which will give the floor and the jamb a nice finished look without having to remove the entire jamb.

Installation Overview/Basics

Step 1: Install the First Row Lay the boards parallel to the longest wall to achieve the best appearance, and install the first board with the groove toward the wall.  Place ½-inch spacers against the wall and push the first plank up against them; these spaces create an expansion gap so that the floor can expand or contract and not warp or buckle (this gap will be covered later with base molding).

The spacers will also allow the floor to have a firm base to install against.  Place the spacers about every 12 inches along the wall and at the end of each board against adjoining walls.

Step 2: Install the Flooring Match the tongue and groove on each board and tap it into place using a scrap piece of flooring to protect the boards.  Make sure that there are no gaps along the length of the boards and that the pieces fit snugly together.  Stagger the joints of the flooring while installing subsequent rows.

For each new row, offset it 6-8 inches so that the joints at the ends of planks are not lined up row-to-row, which can ultimately weaken the floor and create a too-uniform look.

Step 3: Install the Last Plank The very last board installed will need to be trimmed to fit.  To mark the board to the correct width, place a board directly over the next to last board, place another board on top of that, and slide the top board until it sits evenly against spacers against the wall.

Draw a line along the board underneath the top board and along the edge of the top board, which will mark the width of the gap between the next to the last board and the wall.  Rip cut the board along this line and install.

Step 4: Install Thresholds and Base MoldingThresholds come in various styles to accommodate the kind and height of the flooring the new laminate floor butts up against.  Install any thresholds between the end of the flooring and any open doors where the flooring ends.  Remove the spacers and install the base molding to cover the expansion gap.

How To Install Glueless-Click Laminate Flooring 

Step 1: Install the Foam Underlayment  Roll out the underlayment across the floor’s surface, and tape the seams together between the sheets of underlayment. Use a utility knife to trim the foam to size to ensure that it fits precisely at the junctions between the walls and the floor. 

Step 2: Lay the First Row Take the first board and position it in a corner of the room; if the room you are choosing to cover has a cased doorway, you may want to start at the door.  Make sure the grooved side of the boards is against the wall.  Insert plastic spacers between the board and the wall.

Place the next board by engaging it with the end of the first board by holding it about 45 degrees to the first board, then press down on the second board and lock it into place.  Continue joining boards this way to make the first row, inserting spacers at regular intervals.  When you start nearing the end of the row, the last board will probably need to be cut to finish.

Step 3: Install Subsequent Rows  Start the next row with the offcut piece from the end of the first row.  As before, engage the board at a 45-degree angle to the edges of the first-row boards.  Tap the board with a knocking block in order to tighten the connection.  Place another board beside it but leave a slight gap so you can clip it to the first row, and then knock it into place.  Repeat along the entire row.

A pry bar may be needed to tighten the joint for the last board in any row.  To do this, hook the pry bar over the end of the board and tap its other end with a hammer.  

Step 4: Going Around a Doorway  Boards should extend to the threshold in the doorway.  Continue to lay boards until you near the final wall, and a whole board is too wide to fit.  Cut some wood to the width of a board, and sharpen one end.  Loosely position a board over the previous whole board that was fitted, run the pointed end of wood along the wall and use a pencil at the other end to draw the profile onto the loose board.

Using a jigsaw, cut along the guide-line of the wall’s profile and then position the board in the doorway.  Install the board using a pry bar to tap in the clip-together mechanism.  Continue to use this method to cut and attach all boards against the wall.  Choose a threshold strip to install in the doorway that will be suitable for the types of flooring that will meet there.  Complete the room with lengths of edging that is pinned or glued to the baseboard, which will cover the expansion gap. 

Step 5: Finishing Details  If the project was started at the doorway, trim the base of the casing and slide the first board underneath it.  Clip to the second board and work across the floor.

If finished at the doorway, the tongue of the last board may need to be trimmed off with a hammer and chisel, or a jigsaw so that it can fit against the wall and be installed.  If the fixture can be removed and is not set in place, then drill a hole in a board and slide it over the pipe.  A pipe cover can be used to hide the seam at the base.  

How To Install Glue-Down Laminate Flooring 

Step 1: Remove Floor Trim & Set Spacers  Using a hammer and pry bar, carefully remove the floor trim throughout the room where laminate flooring is to be installed.  Set trim aside to reuse later.

Take expansion gap spacers and set them every few feet along all of the walls.  The spacers will create roughly a 3/8-inch gap between the edge of the floorboards and the wall, which will allow for expansion of the wood.

Step 2: Lay The First Row  Put on some rubber gloves.  Begin at the wall furthest from the door, and start spreading down the flooring adhesive with a trowel, coming out about 2 feet from the wall and span the entire length.

With the groove side facing the wall, lay the first row of boards.  Being held out by the expansion spacers, press the floorboards into place in the glue while locking them to each other at the ends.  Cut the end pieces as needed.

Step 3: Install Subsequent Rows Lay second row of floorboards in place by locking the tongue-and-groove edges of the boards together, placing tapping block against the edge of the board and tapping it tight with the hammer.  Continue laying rows across the floor in this fashion, cutting the end pieces as needed.

Make sure to not stand or kneel on the boards already laid. Stop laying the floor when you start running out of room to work, i.e. get too close to the opposite wall.  Let the boards and adhesive set overnight.

Step 4:  Finish InstallationFinish laying the floorboards the following day.  Since the adhesive has had time to set, it is safe to kneel on the previously glued boards to continue working.  Run the last rows all the way to the opposite wall.  Reinstall the floor trim, which will cover up the expansion gaps at the edges.

How To Install Pre-Glued Laminate Flooring

Step 1: Install the Underlayment  Roll out the underlayment across the floor’s surface, and tape the seams together between the sheets of underlayment. Use a utility knife to trim the foam to size to ensure that it fits precisely at the junctions between the walls and the floor. 

Step 2: Lay the First Row Take the first board and position it in a corner of the room; if the room you are choosing to cover has a cased doorway, you may want to start at the door.  Make sure the grooved side of the boards is against the wall.  Insert spacers between the board and the wall.

Moisten the glue areas before setting the board in place.  Set the next board by engaging it with the end of the first board by holding it about 45 degrees to the first board, then press down on the second board and lock it into place.  Continue joining boards this way to make the first row, inserting spacers at regular intervals.  When you start nearing the end of the row, the last board will probably need to be cut to finish.

Step 3: Install Subsequent Rows  Start the next row with the offcut piece from the end of the first row.  As before, engage the board at a 45-degree angle to the edges of the first-row boards.  Tap the board with a knocking block in order to tighten the connection.  Place another board beside it but leave a slight gap so you can clip it to the first row, and then knock it into place.  Repeat along the entire row. A pry bar may be needed to tighten the joint for the last board in any row.  To do this, hook the pry bar over the end of the board and tap its other end with a hammer.

Step 5: Finishing Details If the project was started at the doorway, trim the base of the casing and slide the first board underneath it.  Clip to the second board and work across the floor.  If finished at the doorway, the tongue of the last board may need to be trimmed off with a hammer and chisel, or a jigsaw so that it can fit against the wall and be installed.  If the fixture can be removed and is not set in place, then drill a hole in a board and slide it over the pipe.  A pipe cover can be used to hide the seam at the base.