How to Lay Laminate Flooring

If you’re looking to lay laminate or engineered wood flooring in your home, follow this guide from master builder Andy Stevens on how to lay a tongue and groove dry-fix flooring system.

Remember to let your new floor acclimatise in the room for 48 hours before laying – you may invalidate the warranty if you don’t.

You will need:

  • Your choice of laminate flooring and underlay
  • stanley knife
  • hammer
  • protective gloves
  • crowbar
  • drill
  • tape measure
  • gaffa tape
  • spirit level
  • clamp
  • circular saw or hand saw
  • flat wood drill bit
  • pulling ledge
  • threshold
  • optional – beading/trim

Preparing the floor

  • If you need to remove existing carpet, carefully cut the carpet and underlay with a stanley knife and pull up the edges, then roll away and remove
  • Using a crowbar or lever, remove the gripper rods – make sure you wear protective gloves for this
  • Remove any loose floorboards and check the positioning of any pipework
  • To fix loose floorboards, firstly mark the location of the joists so you know where to drill (avoiding the pipework you’ve identified in step four). It’s a good idea to use a pilot bit in your drill if you are securing older floorboards to prevent them splitting when using a larger screw
  • Remove all staples left from the underlay and either remove or hammer any protruding nail heads flush with the floorboards
  • Sweep over the floor to ensure a clean surface that is free from debris
  • Underlay

  • When it comes to underlay, choose the best underlay your budget will allow to afford you the best possible sound and thermal insulation properties
  • For larger rooms, lay the underlay in the opposite direction to the floorboards, leaving a small gap of approximately 12mm
  • Using gaffa or fabric tape, fix the edges of the underlay together, ensuring that the edges do not overlap and create an uneven surface
  • Laying the laminate

  • When it comes to opening the packaging of your new flooring, either cut down the edges of the box or tear the box open with your hands to prevent any accidental damage
  • Measure the width of the room and the floorboards to ascertain the number of boards you will need (leaving a small 12mm expansion gap around the edge)
  • If your room has a radiator with flow and return pipes going into the floorboards, this is a good place to lay your first board. You’ll need to cut a hole on the joint between two floorboards to allow for the pipe. By laying these boards first, you can ensure the easiest location for the cut (follow the instructions in the video above for how to make the cut for a professional-looking finish)
  • Measure from the end of the laid board (not including the tongue) to the edge of the room (minus the 12mm expansion gap) and cut your next board accordingly. This will complete your first run
  • Start the next run with the offcut from the previous board which will ensure staggered joints as well as reducing wastage.
  • For the final run, it’s highly likely you will have to have to cut the board to size. Rooms are not always perfectly square, so make sure you measure the width of the gap at various points and cut the final boards accordingly
  • Finishing touches

  • Once the flooring is laid, you can cover the expansion gap with beading (this gap will also be covered by your skirting boards if they had been removed or weren’t present before you laid the floor)
  • When it comes to the doorway, you will need to attach an appropriate threshold depending on the flooring between the two spaces (such as a carpet-to-laminate option)
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