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How to Install Laminate Flooring

How to Install Laminate Flooring

Installing Laminate floorings is fairly easy as you let the planks assimilate beforehand, install an underlayment layer and install the flooring on top of it with a floating method.

 For wall mounts, you need to nail these planks to the wall. The difficult part of the process is making proper expansion gaps from walls, getting angles right, and gluing them on the walls.

Follow the processes below to get the installation process right.

Overview of Laminate Floorings

Check out the following overview to get a quick understanding of laminate floorings.

Aspect
Description
Thickness
Generally, around 6 to 14mm
Width
Generally, around 5 to 7 inches wide
TypesLaminate Planks
Laminate Tiles
Laminate Wall Panels
Floor EffectsWood
Stone
Cost$1 to $5 per sq feet
Note: Above costs only reflect the material cost
Waterproofing
Product and brand-specific (not available on all laminates)

Things to Consider Before Installation

Consider the following elements before starting the installation process.

General

  • Place the laminate floorings in the intended room 48 hours or manufacturer specified hours ahead of installation for assimilation to the humidity & temperature. The general estimate is 35-65 % relative humidity and 60–85-degree Fahrenheit for temperature.
  • Inspect each plank/ tile for damage or discoloration. We recommend mixing the planks from different boxes during installation.
  • Always account for an average 10 % wastage for incorrect cuts while ordering the floorings.
  • Install floorings parallel to the long side of the room or against the major light source of the room.
  • Follow manufacturer specifications & instructions for expansion space, spacer sizes, compatible subfloor & substrates, moisture, and flatness requirements. The General Flatness rule is 3/16 inches over 10 feet.
  • Door frames are to be cut according to instructions from the manufacturer. The general rule is one to two centimeters. To ensure accurate size, place a single plank with underlayment at the bottom and mark the height needed for the plank to be inserted into the frame with ease.
  • Any planks cutting must be done on the first and last row of the room to maintain balance in design.

Wall Mounts Specific Considerations

  • Do not mount laminate over wallpaper or paneling. The manufacturer will provide compatible substrate information.
  • For planks with an attached underlayment, you should strip that off for wall mounts which will ensure the planks adhering to directly to the wall. Follow manufacturing instructions for this.
  • Don’t attach anything directly to the flooring planks if you’ve put them on the wall. They are intended to be decorative rather than load-bearing. If you wish to attach something, drill clearance holes in the walls, locate the studs, then install the object on them. As a general rule, drill ¼ bigger holes than the diameter of the fastener to be used.
  • Turn the power off in the room while doing wall mounts to avoid electrical accidents.
  • The manufacturer will specify the required humidity. The general estimate is 35 to 55 % humidity.
  • The manufacturer will specify if sheets of plywood need to be installed on the substrate.

Does Your Floor Need Underlayment

Please note that only select laminate flooring products come with attached underlayment? It entirely depends on the product and price range.

 If your product has a pre-attached underlayment, you will still need a vapor barrier plus an underlayment layer for concrete subfloors.

You won’t need a vapor barrier if you have wood and existing subfloors, but you should have at least 3mm underlayment. When purchasing laminate, you usually have several options.Man working with underlayment for flooring

How to Install Laminate Flooring

Follow the steps below to install laminate floorings effectively.

Tools Required

  • Laminate floorings
  • Utility Knife
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Pull Bar
  • Tapping Block
  • Measuring Tape
  • Miter Saw, Table Saw, Jig Saw
  • T Square
  • Spacers
  • Masks, goggles & gloves
  • Caulk Gun
  • Stud Finder
  • Manufacture specified adhesive/Premium Urethane Construction Adhesive/Silicon/Caulk adhesive
  • Chalk
  • Drills, Air Compressor & Hose 
  • Brad nails of ½ to 2 inches in size

Floor Installation

  • Start laying the first row. The tongue side of the planks should face towards the wall.
  • We recommend removing the tongue of all planks on the first row on the length side and the first plank’s short end. This removal will allow room for spacers. Make sure the first row’s tongue side faces the wall.
  • Please insert the manufacturer-specified spacers along the walls. You will need spacers on the four sides of the room or wherever planks are near the border. The spacer will generally be around 3/8 of an inch. This size may vary according to brand.
  • Start laying the first row; you might need to cut the end plank/tile to fit the room. Use the trim piece from the first row as the first piece for the second row. Join the planks with the tongue groove system on the short ends.
  • Make sure the first piece of the second row is at least 8 inches long or manufactured specified length.
  • The most important part now is to initiate the staggering process. Staggering will help the floor to have a natural-looking offset that mimics natural wood. The staggering process is the same for vinyl, laminate, or Hardwood. The general offset from end joints can range from 6 to 12 inches. Follow the instruction manual for the size and do it according to the brand’s guidelines.
  • Lock joints by placing tongue into grooves on both the short end in the current row and the long end with the previous row. Use a rubber mallet with a tapping block to click both rows together.
  • Once two or three rows are done, place a box of planks on the top to ensure these rows do not move. Continue the process for all rows.
    worker laying the laminate
  • For the last row, you may have to adjust the sizes of the planks to fit the room. Take the intended planks, put them on the second to last row, trace the wall contour, and cut the laminate plank or tiles. After the sizing is done, install the last row and tap the length side of the planks with a pull bar and rubber mallet to lock the pieces in.
  • Remove all the spacers and seal the perimeter with the sealant provided by the manufacturer.
  • You also need to install the quarter rounds and moldings. Be sure to seal those molding, transition pieces, or connections at door frames with the sealant. Brands will typically provide a foam backer rod to fill the expansion spacing.

How to Install Floating Laminate on Walls

You can generally mount laminate flooring planks horizontally, diagonally or wainscotting. It is best to check in with our manufacturer about possible installation styles. 

These planks generally come with standard locking systems or plastic clip systems. It will be specified when you buy these products.

Wainscoting Verticle Styled Installation

  • Remove the base and trim from the wall. Measure a distance equal to laminate plank plus 1 inch from the floor and mark the wall. Use a stud finder to locate studs. Mark the studs vertically using chalk.
  • Maintain a ¼ inch expansion size at the bottom and top of the wainscot line.
  • A general wainscot line is around 34 to 36 inches. Make sure all planks are cut the same length. You can use some chalk to create a horizontal and vertical line on the top and bottom.
  • Start placing planks from left to right. Ensure You have a 1 inch or manufacture specified gap at the bottom of the plank.
  • If there are any light switches, use a jigsaw to cut the planks. Remove the switch covering, place the plank and attach the covering later.
  • Apply glue to the back of each plank at an S pattern. When placing the first plank, you should have the tongue side facing the left adjacent wall.
  • Ensure you have a ⅜ inch or manufacturer-specified gap from either side of the adjacent walls.
  • The brad nails should be installed ½ inch from the top and bottom on each plank. You will cover these nails later by trimming or base moldings.
  • Install the rest of the plank by using the adhesive and lock it into place with the groove of the previous plank. You may have to angle the plank and tap it into place using a pull bar or tapping block. The nailing specification is the same for all planks.
  • Once installation is complete, install all the trim pieces, base moldings, and chair rail trims and clean the whole area with some mineral spirits and fill any holes with blended fillers. Be sure to wipe it down with a dry rag later.

Diagonal Installation

  • This installation process is like horizontal installation stated above, but with a 45-degree angle. You need to draw our starting line at a 45-degree angle. Remember, you will also have to cut the end perimeter pieces simultaneously.
  • Start by measuring the width of our starting plank and adding a ¼ inch or manufactured specified gap at the top and the base of the wall. You also need to maintain at least 3/8 inch or brand-specified gaps between the laminate and adjacent walls.
  • Apply adhesive on the planks at the S pattern on the first plank and place the plank on the wall with the groove part facing the right side of the wall. The first plank should look like an offset-angled triangle.
  • You must use brad nails to fasten the plank. Nail in places where the molding will subsequently cover it up. Planks should be nailed through the grooves in several places.
  • Once this is done, place the second plank. Use the same adhesive pattern. You must position the board at the desired angle. It should be able to secure the previous plank. The procedure of nailing is the same.
  • Repeat this process for all other planks. Use the cut-off from the first row. The cut-off generally should be around at least 8 inches. Follow manufacturer guidelines. This offset will help stagger the wall.
  • Make sure the planks of the second-row lock into the first row and fold the plank into place. Make certain the end joints are at least 6 inches or manufacturer-specified gap apart.
  • Nail into the grooves of second and other rows. You need to make sure that you do not face nail these rows. Continue this for all rows.
  • Saw the extra parts of the last row of planks. Clean up the wall with mineral spirits and a dry rag.

Horizontal Installation
horizontal laminate

  • Use a stud finder to locate studs in the wall and mark the studs with straight vertical lines with chalk on the wall. You need to make sure that you turn off the power to the whole room to avoid accidents.
  • It is best to do a vertical line at the bottom if you have uneven walls.
  • Remember that you need to maintain an expansion space around the wall’s perimeter. The general estimate is 3/8 inch.
  • Use the adhesive specified by the manufacturer and always apply glue on every single plank. We recommend using a caulk gun with urethane adhesive. If the tip is too small, cut it open to get around an average ¼ inch wide bead of adhesive. Apply glue in an S pattern.
  • For both standard locking systems or plastic clip systems, always start from left to right and place planks from the bottom of the wall. The groove side should face up to click them later with other planks. The planks should line up with the horizontal line that you drew initially.
  • Nails are to be installed at only the stud location. The vertical lines will guide us where the studs are. You must nail those areas where the wall base trim will later cover it up. Nailing can be done around 14-16 inches for the next rows or follow brand-specified gaps.
  • In the next row, start the staggering process. It is the same for floors or walls. Follow the manufacturing requirements for end joint offset requirements. The general estimate is 8 to 12 inches.
  • Fit the second row by fitting the planks into the grooves. You will have to angle it a bit and do a slight wiggle. Use blind nailing for all other rows and use the angle and fold method to finish it. Use pull bars and tapping blocks to lock planks into place.
  • The end row of planks may need to be cut with a saw. We recommend a table saw to do it. You also need to use tape to mark the studs beforehand as the walls are covered up. Finish the end row.
  • Install the trimmings, quarter rounds, and base moldings. Clean the wall with mineral spirits and a dry rag.

How Long Does It Take to Install Laminate Flooring

In most cases, the installation can be completed in a day or two. When the assimilation period of the laminate is taken into consideration, an additional 48 hours or manufacturer stipulated time is required for the entire project.

On average, it would take you three to four days to complete.

How to Maintain Laminate

  • Use felt protectors, chair casters on furniture. Door Mats & area rugs minimize dust in the rooms.door mats on laminate
  • Avoid vacuuming with ones that have beater bars. Avoid using abrasive cleaners, acidic soaps, detergents, waxes, and polishes.
  • Use microfiber mop pads. We do not recommend string mops. Never let water drip on the floor.clean laminate floors
  • Clean any spills immediately. According to the situation, you can clean spot stains by rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover. Remember to clean these materials after use; These materials on the floor will damage the visuals if left on too long.
  • Use a plastic scraper for gums and wax.
  • Do not steam floors. Excessive heat will cause damage.
  • Sweep and vacuum dust and debris every day. Deep cleaning can be done once or twice a fortnight, depending upon traffic.
    vaccum cleaner
  • Use manufacturer-specified cleaning products. There are also many third-party brands like Zepp, Black Diamond, Bona, BetterLife, Method, etc.
  • Some brands instruct to use diluted vinegar, 1 cup of vinegar to a gallon of water, or 1/ cup of non-sudsy ammonia per gallon. Please follow the manufacturer’s instructions.