In this guide, we will go through how to fit laminate flooring and which laminate flooring tools you will need in detail but let’s start with a quick guide to fitting laminate floors.
We’ll cover every step of the installation process, including:
1. How to measure a room for laminate flooring
2. Tools you’ll need when laying laminate flooring
3. Preparing a floor for laminate
4. How to remove old laminate flooring
5. How to lay underlay
6. How to lay laminate flooring
7. How to fit laminate flooring around door frames
8. How to fit laminate flooring trims
9. How to repair laminate flooring
10. Safety advice
1. How to measure a room for laminate
Like with any DIY job, measuring accurately at the start of the job is essential. It’s important to be thorough – measure lengths more than once to be sure and make clear notes of everything.
Work with a partner and use a tape measure or laser measure. Remember to measure to the back of any door frames or room trims that you want the laminate to go under when it is fitted.
If your room is perfectly square or rectangular, the area can be calculated by multiplying the width by the height. For example, a room that is 5m x 2m will need 10m2 of laminate flooring.
Laminate flooring is usually sold in packs labelled by their size. For example, one pack might include 5m2 of laminate flooring.
If your room has indentations and recesses – such as chimney breasts – then break the room down in to smaller rectangles that you can add together to get the total area of the room and add 5% for waste.
Measuring stairs or steps is a similar process. Measure the height and depth of each step to give you the length, before multiplying by the width of the staircase to calculate the area.
It’s a good idea to add about 10 per cent to any totals to give yourself margin for error.
2. Laminate flooring tools
Like with measuring, getting the right laminate flooring kit is another important consideration. Many of the tools you may already have in your toolbox and most DIY outlets sell a flooring kit that will include the pull bar and spacers for the job.
Tools you might need include:
- Mitre saw
- A small crowbar
- Drill with flat wood bit
- Flooring kit – including spacers and pull bar
- Stanley knife
- Tape measure
- Safety goggles and facemask
- Masking tape
- A vacuum cleaner
3. Laminate sub-flooring preparation
Make sure the entire area is smooth, even and dry. If it’s a newly concreted floor, make sure it is fully dried out. Fix any screws and nails firmly below the surface, so that they do not puncture the underlay or laminate.
Make sure all your packs of boards have been resting horizontally for 48 hours so they are flat.
Clean up any dust and debris with a vacuum cleaner and scrape or sand any existing adhesives from previous flooring.
If laying on concrete, you will need to put down a damp-proof membrane but using underlay with a built-in damp proof membrane is best recommended.
Remove skirting boards so that they can be re-fitted when the new boards are in, if you do not plan to use any floor beading.
4. Removing old laminate flooring
It is not a good idea to lay laminate flooring over an existing one but, because laminate boards click together and float over the sub-floor, they are relatively easy to remove without damaging.
First, take up any trims or transitions from the edge of the flooring with your crowbar.
Pull the boards around the perimeter of the floor using the crowbar and use the claw end of your hammer to remove nails.
Work, row by row, from the side of the room that each of the grooves are facing – it’s easier to pull the tongue of a board from the groove than the other way around.
5. How to lay laminate flooring underlay
There are various types of underlay, each with different advantages. Thicker options offer more sound dampening, which could be a consideration if you are laying a floor upstairs, while some types come with a built-in damp-proof membrane.
Bear in mind that not all types are suitable for wet areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.
Lay the underlay over the entire floor and trim to fit, cutting a 16mm gap around any pipes. Lay lengths parallel and stick together with masking tape.
6. Laying laminate flooring
Before fitting laminate flooring, think about which direction you would like the board to lie in. Ideally, they will lay in the direction of the longest wall but if your subfloor is wooden, then it is best to have the laminate boards fitted across the joists underneath.
- Start in a corner and lay the tongue side of the first row of boards facing the nearest wall
- The boards will click together using the click system
- Place spacers from your flooring kit between the board and the wall with an 8-10mm expansion gap
- The last row of boards will need to be at least 100mm wide, so measure ahead and adjust your first row by cutting the boards if needed
- You will probably need to adjust the length of the last board in the row to make it fit the length of your room. Use the square to mark the back of a board so you know where to cut. You can use the off cut to start the next row if it is at least 300mm
- Lay the rows side by side, ensuring the joints are staggered from row to row. Continue to use the spacers to maintain a consistent gap with the wall
- Calculate the width of the last board by laying a plank over the previous row. Place a third plank with its tongue against the wall and mark a line on the plan beneath. This will give you the desired width. Then use the hammer and pull bar to fit it tightly into space
- As laminate is a ‘floating floor’ it must not touch any wall, door frames or pipes to save the laminate moving and damaging
7. How to fit laminate flooring around doorframes
Fitting laminate flooring around doorframes is the tricky bit, but it’s worth getting right as it can make or break your final result.
You basically have two choices – to either cut the boards around the shape of the doorframe, or to undercut the doorframe to slide the board under.
If you are cutting the board around a doorframe, lock it in place before marking and cutting using the mitre saw.
A simpler way to get a neat finish is to undercut the doorframe with a handsaw. Measure the depth of your boards to make sure you do not cut too much off your doorframes.
It is unlikely that you will be able to lift the board to click it into the next board, so sand off the tongue and use a wood adhesive to keep it locked in place.
You can cut holes for radiator pipes by drilling with a flat wood bit and then using the mitre saw to make a keyhole shape in the board to fit around the pipe. A hole of about 30mm is usually sufficient. Make sure the laminate board does not touch any of the radiator pipes.
8. Laminate flooring trims
If you have chosen not to remove or undercut skirting boards, then a laminate floor edge trim is a good way to finish off your project.
These are an effective way of blending your new floor with your existing woodwork if you chose a trim that matches.
There are matching accessories available to ensure your laminate looks seamless.
Measure the lengths required, cut 45 angles at the corners and apply a thin line of wood glue to the back of the trim. Do not apply to the bottom of the trim – the glue should stick to the skirting board, and not the floor.
Hold the trim in place with some tacks or heavy objects such as books while the adhesive dries.
If you are using a transitional trim to separate laminate flooring from another type of floor in another room, make sure you choose a option that is suitable for use on both surfaces.
9. How to repair laminate flooring
While laminate floors are pretty robust, they are susceptible to damage over time.
Fortunately, scratches, chips and dents can be repaired or masked. There are several laminate floor repair kits available that come with smoothing pads and brushes.
Make sure you choose one that contains a colour that matches – or is at least very close to – the colour of your floor.
Repair work will involve using a solvent to clean the area before using a colour-matched filling liquid to mask the damage.
10. Safety Advice
- Always wear safety goggles and a facemask when cutting wood
- Remember to wear kneepads for comfort – and to keep your knees healthy in the long-term
- When measuring up, work with a partner to hold the other end of the tape
- Take care when using solvents and fillers – these can be flammable and toxic and should be kept out of children’s reach