In this blog we will show you how to prepare for and lay laminate flooring, including acclimatising your new flooring, how to fit around obstacles such as pipes and radiators and how to apply finishing touches such as trim and threshold bars. Follow this for a DIY solution with professional results.
Preparation is absolutely key to laying laminate flooring, to ensure a long-lasting and durable finish you must prepare correctly for your floor surface. Make sure that any existing carpet, underlay, vinyl flooring or tiles have been removed prior to work beginning laying the new flooring as well as completely clearing the room of furniture and any rugs or mats. Laying new flooring on top of old flooring can make the flooring uneven and can even trap damp below the new floor.
Before you put the laminate flooring down you will need to lay underlay, this makes the flooring easier to fit and will massively improve comfort and sound and heat insulation.
Just like laying underlay, preparing your sub-floor accurately is essential for the best finish for your flooring. It will provide a level surface to allow your tiles to properly stay in place.
These materials are essentials to make sure you prepare the best you can:
- Laminate Flooring Underlay (most likely foam or fibreboard)
- Damp-proof Membrane (recommended for concrete sub-floors, needed if your foam or fibreboard underlay doesn’t have a damp proof membrane)
- Waterproof Tape (required in combination with a damp-proof membrane) – Buy Here
- Joint Tape – Buy Here
- Timber Battens (needed for floor acclimatisation)
- Wood Adhesive (required for a wooden sub-floor) – Buy Here
The tools you will need will depend on your existing sub-floor and are likely tools you already own, if not use our links to find the best deals on these products:
- Hammer (required for a wooden sub-floor) – Buy Here
- Nail Punch (required for a wooden sub-floor) – Buy Here
- Combi Drill (required for a wooden sub-floor) – Buy Here
- Plane, Sander and/or Sandpaper (required for a wooden sub-floor) – Buy Here
- Vacuum Cleaner and/or Sweeping Brush – Buy Here
- Utility Knife (aka retractable knife) – Buy Here
- Metal Rule – Buy Here
- Spirit Level – Buy Here
- Moisture Measure
- Knee Pads – Buy Here
Calculating the number of flooring packs required:
The first step is to calculate how many packs of underlay and laminate you will need. To do this work out the size of the area by measuring the room’s length and width and multiplying these figures together (length [m] x width [m] = number of metres squared [m2m2]) . This process may be a little harder if you have an odd-shaped room, to overcome this divide the room into separate rectangular areas and then add these figures together.
Next check the coverage of the pack and divide the total area of the room by the coverage per pack (total area of room [m2m2] / coverage per pack [m2m2] = the number of flooring packs required). Round this number up to the nearest whole number.
TIP: Buy an extra 10% to allow for wastage, spare boards will come in handy when you are cutting flooring to fit around obstacles. Simply multiply the total number of packs by 1.1 to ensure an extra 10%.
Acclimatising the new flooring:
This process will reduce the chance of floor boards shrinking or expanding and reduce the likelihood of gaps appearing between flooring boards. Stack the unopened packs flat in the room in which they are going to be laid for 48 hours. This exposes the flooring to the same conditions in which they will live in. Store the underlay in the same way as the floor boards. Once acclimated the laminate may very slightly expand or shrink as it settles in its new surroundings.
TIP: Try and raise all packs off of the floor to let air circulate between the packs.
Laying Process: Step-by-Step:
- Laminate flooring
- Suitable underlay
- Damp-proof underlay
- Flooring trim
- Grab adhesive – Buy Here
- Panel pins – Buy Here
- Pipe surrounds
- Threshold bar
- Furniture pads
- Reusable tack
- Scotia trim
- 32mm flat wood drill bit – Buy Here
- Fine cutting blades – Buy Here
- Plane – Buy Here
- Mitre box – Buy Here
- Scotia cutters
Begin laying your boards over the underlay from the left-hand corner where the door is, with the short tongue edge against the wall. Place expansion spacers between the boards and both walls at regular intervals along the wall. Laminate flooring needs to be installed with an expansion gap of between 10-12mm, it may be that your skirting board is at least 10-12mm thick. If so it can be removed carefully keeping it intact an re-fitted once the new laminate flooring is in place.
TIP: Be aware that with laminate flooring there can be slight colour variations between packs.
Rapid Fit/Drop Lock Laminate:
Line up the end of the next board with the end of the first board and press down firmly to click it into position pushing the tongue of the second panel into the groove of the first panel. Continue to use spacers to maintain the expansion gap to the wall. Proceed to lay more boards until no more full boards can be laid, making sure that the line of boards is perfectly straight.
Twin Clic Laminate:
If you are using Twin Clic laminate flooring then the connecting process differs slightly, insert the panel at a 20-30° angle placing its short tongue into the first boards long tongue this will lock it into place.
To measure the last board at the end of the row, lay a full board flipped 180° parallel with the previous row ensuring that an expansion spacer is between it and the wall.
Draw a line across the board parallel with the end of the last full board in the row, using a pencil and try square.
To complete the first row, secure the board to a workbench with a clamp and use a jigsaw or panel saw to cut the board to size. Ensure that the board is face if using a panel saw or a laminate bladed jigsaw, however if using a wood blade jigsaw place the board face down.
TIP: Cut slowly along the line using downward strokes and pressure only to keep the line straight.
If the offcut is 300mm long or more then it can be used to start the next row. Start at the same end in which you started the first row and place the cut end against the wall. If the offcut is less than 300m long then you will need to use a new board sawn in half. Make sure that the joint between boards in adjoining rows are a minimum of 200mm apart.
Rapid Fit/Drop lock Laminate:
Position a spacer between the wall and the offcut/new board and with a downward action place the tongue of the new board into the groove of the adjacent board at a 20-30° angle. You should hear a click sound when the boards are connected. Ensure that the end of the board is sat against the spacer and is in line with the adjacent board.
Twin Clic Laminate:
Before connecting any boards to the previous row first connect the entire new row together. Just like before measure and make any cuts to boards so that the row fits. Click the edge of the new row into the edge of the last row again at an angle of 20-30°. We recommend two people doing this process for safety and best results.
Continue to lay additional rows as previously described until you get to the last row.
You may need to cut boards for your last row. To do this align your boards directly over the previous row and use reusable tack to ensure they stay in place. Next place another board on top and make sure that its tongue is pressed against the spacers on the wall. Mark a line at the edge of the top board onto the board beneath. Take up the middle board and measure and cut along your marked line. Make sure to measure and mark each board separately in the position in which it is to be laid in case your wall is not entirely straight.
After all boards have been measured, marked and cut slot them into place the same as every other row.
If you need to fill a gap between the edge of a board and your door then you will need to measure the distance between the two architraves either side of the door and the distance from the board and the door. Mark these measurements onto a board and cut it to fit not forgetting for 10-12mm expansion gap at both ends.
Place the board against the architrave and mark the intricacies of the architraves onto the board so that the board can slide underneath the architrave. This is the process for if your boards are laid horizontally, if you are laying your boards vertically you will have to complete this process for every panel that comes into contact with the architrave.
Using a jigsaw or panel saw cut along these guide marks.
Slide the first two rows of panels back from the doorway and join the newly cut board to it. Then carefully slide the two rows and newly cut piece into position with the board sliding under the architrave.
You may need to cut a floor board to fit around radiator pipes. To do this, lay a board in position aligned with your radiator pipes, using a pencil and a rule draw a line across the width of the board from where it hits the centre of the pipe including an additional 20mm to allow for expansion. Next rotate the board and lay it down such that it is front on to the pipe. Again, using a pencil and rule mark where it hits the centre of the pipe.
Where these two lines intersect is where you will drill a hole.
Clamp the board to your workbench securely and use a power drill with a 32mm flat wood drill bit or hole saw to cut a hole at your line intersection.
Use a straight edge to draw two lines from the edges of the hole both on a slight outward angle.
Using a jigsaw or panel saw neatly cut along these pencil lines to create a wedge-shaped off-cut.
Slide the board into position and use grab adhesive to glue the offcut to the board in place between the pipe and the wall. Be sure to wipe away excess adhesive quickly and hide the expansion gap with a pipe collar.
Fitting a threshold bar:
Carefully measure the width of the door and mark onto the threshold bar, allowing for the 10-12mm expansion gap.
Using a hacksaw cut the threshold bar at the marks and fit it into place.
The threshold bar may need cutting to shape in order to sit flush, to do this carefully measure and mark a notch to be cut at either end of the threshold bar. Again, use a hacksaw cut the notches and secure the threshold bar into place.
You may find that with the added height of the underlay, flooring and threshold bar that your door no longer shuts.
If your door opens into the room in which you are fitting the flooring you may have already removed your door, if not you will need to remove your door to trim it down to size.
Fitting laminate flooring trim:
This the last finishing touch.
Measure and mark using a pencil on the trim where the cuts need to be made.
Using either scotia cutters or a mitre box and handsaw cut the corners of the trim to a 45° angle.
Apply grab adhesive to the back of the trim, remove the expansion spacers and fix it into place onto the skirting boards. Use a hammer to gently hammer panel pins into the trim to tack it into place as it dries. Do not fix the trim onto the floor as this will prevent expansion.