How to lay laminate flooring

Skill rating: Intermediate

Read All the flooring instructions before starting. Check you have sufficient amount of flooring before started the job, purchase all required accessories to complete the job professionally.

Any claim for replacement of boards due to any defects must be made BEFORE the boards are laid. Once fixed no claims will be accepted. Packs must be stored unopened in dry, cool, moisture free conditions and should be opened on site only when they are ready to be fixed. Always store laid flat.

Where to fit laminate flooring

Read All the flooring instructions before starting. Check you have sufficient amount of flooring before started the job, purchase all required accessories to complete the job professionally.

Any claim for replacement of boards due to any defects must be made BEFORE the boards are laid. Once fixed no claims will be accepted. Packs must be stored unopened in dry, cool, moisture free conditions and should be opened on site only when they are ready to be fixed. Always store laid flat.

Step 1: Measuring up

Tools required: Tape measure, pen or pencil, paper and a calculator.

Very few rooms are laid out in a perfect square or rectangle. Find a way to divide the room you are measuring into squares or rectangles. If you still end up with areas that are irregular, measure from the longest point in each direction. Take your measurements in metres.

Measure from wall to wall. You may want to label your measurements as length or width to make it easier for you when you purchase your materials.

Multiply your length and width measurements for each square or rectangle to get the square metres for the area. Keep a list or a grid of your square metred measurements for each area.

When you are done measuring, you’ll simply add these together to determine the total square footage you’ll need. You’ll need to add a little to the exact measurements to account for waste.

Measure up your floor space

Step 2: Choosing the right flooring

Select your flooring based on shading and graining to match your decor. Your concern should be what your demands are going to be for that flooring and match those demands to the flooring as best as you can. Laminate flooring varies in thinkness, wear layer finishes and fitting mechanism.

Step 3: Preparing the sub-floor

Prepare your sub-floor

All sub-floors to be overlaid must be completely dry, flat, sound and clean. Indentations must be filled and high spots rubbed down level. Vinyl tiles can be overlaid on conditions that they are firmly stuck down. Cushion vinyl sheet and linoleum must be removed.

All carpets and underlays must be removed. Floorboards must be firmly fixed and covered with at least 6mm thick plywood sheets or a suitable substitute material, nailed at 300mm centres (which means nailed every 300mm in all directions). All nail and screw heads must be driven just below the surface of the plywood. Overlay with Foam Underlay.

Alternatively, you can use fibreboard underlay laid directly, as pack instruction, over flat, firmly fixed floorboards. If you intend overlaying suspended ground floors with ventilated crawl space, you must ensure that all ventilation openings are always kept free of obstructions. Do not use fibreboard underlay in the bathroom.

Concrete Floors must incorporate an effective Damp Proof Membrane and must be completely dry to building regulations. Building regulations stipulate a drying time on new concrete and screed, assuming good ventilation, of 1 day per 1mm thickness (1” per month) up to 50mm (2”) thickness. Thicknesses greater than 50mm (2’) take comparatively longer - i.e. 75mm (3”) could take 4 months. Cold and wet weather slows the drying time.

Planning The Floor. You should cover the subfloor with Vapour Barrier or similar 0.2mm thick plastic sheet, overlapping at least 200mm at joints. When you have prepared the base, lay a one metre wide row of Foam Underlay along the length of your longest wall. Do not lay more than one length of underlay at a time and never overlap edges.

For all ‘floating floor’ installations: Fixed fittings such as kitchen units, fireplaces etc. must be insitu prior to installing the floor.

Step 4: Preparing the panels

Place the unopened packs in the room where they are to be laid for at least 72 hours. Immediately prior to laying, open all packs and arrange the contents to ensure a random mix of shades and texture. No attempt should be made to exactly match boards as this may produce an un-natural finish. When you open the packs, check that the tongue and shelves are free from obstruction and wipe with a dry cloth.

Prepare the panels

Step 5: Laying the underlay

Select the underlay based on your sub-floor requirements, you may also require a vapour barrier. Underlays vary in benefits they offer and size of packs, follow the instructions on the underlay for fitting when you have selected the correct product.

Step 6: Before starting

Because this is a wood based product it is necessary to leave an expansion gap of approx. 12mm between the edges of the floor and the perimeter of the room. To cover the gap you can remove the skirtings before fixing the floor and replace them over the gap at the end of the job or, you can lay to within 12mm of the skirting and attach a quadrant or, scotia to the skirting to cover the gap.

Widths or lengths in excess of 10 linear metres will require additional expansion joints within the floor. Plan to use features within the layout of the room to minimize the disruption caused by this e.g. make the gaps at alcoves or fireplaces. Cover the gaps usings accessories, i.e.: scotia, co-ordinating t-bars.

Before starting

Step 7: Laying the flooring

Very few walls are straight, but it will save a lot of cutting if you take care to lay the first three rows of flooring. To achieve this read through the laminate instructions (based the fitting system you have purchased) follow the instructions to fit the rows.

Going around pipes

Going around pipes

When cutting around pipes mark the center of the hole required, and then drill a hole the size of the pipe plus the width of the expansion gap required for each side of the pipe.

Mark a line going from one side of the hole to the edge of the board at a slight angle outwards, and repeat for the other side of the hole. Using a fine toothed hand saw cut along the two lines and remove the piece of laminate flooring but don't throw it away.

Start installing laminate flooring plank into its position in the room, around the pipe. Take the small piece of laminate flooring that was cut out, and place a small amount of adhesive on the two edges that where just cut, taking care not to get any adhesive on the bottom of the small piece.

Carefully position into place around the other side of the pipe and wipe of any excess adhesive.

Then place a pipe surround of the same colour as the laminate flooring around the pipe and slide down onto the laminate flooring to cover the expansion gap.

Laying over underfloor heating

Laminate should only be laid over warm water system underfloor heating. The surface temperature of the laminate flooring should not exceed 26 degrees centigrade. The laminate flooring needs to acclimatise in the area concerned with the underfloor heating on for approximately 3-4 days.

The heating then needs to be switched off for 24 hours prior to the flooring being laid. An alternative heating should then be introduced to the area to compensate for the loss of heat from the underfloor heating and to ensure similar conditions whilst the flooring is being laid. When the flooring is completed, the underfloor heating can be switched on straight away, if necessary and bought gradually up to temperature over the next several days.

Step 8: Finishing off

Use doormats, one on the outside and one inside of all exterior access doors - this will avoid unnecessary wear caused by grit etc..

You should vacuum the surface regularly. If necessary wipe surface with a damp cloth. Avoid the use of excessive water.

Any spillages should be removed and wiped immediately. Stubborn stains may be treated using a mild diluted detergent.

Always use protective furniture felt pads under furniture legs.

If you have a chair on wheels you should use a mat to prevent excessive wear.

Top tips

Purchase extra flooring to allow for mistakes and should you require to replace a board in the future keep extra stored.

Always keep your receipt, marked with the date/place of purchase. Ensure you and/or your fitter reads and follows the flooring instructions.