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How to Install Laminate Flooring: A Guide for Beginners

Laminate flooring hasn't been around very long, but this easy-to-install (and environmentally friendly) flooring option has quickly gained popularity. You don't need to be a flooring contractor to install the stuff; if you're new to DIY flooring projects, laminate flooring might be the perfect material for you.

How to Install Laminate Flooring

There are a number of different types of laminate flooring. Most don't need nails or adhesive, instead they use a simple tongue-and-groove system that locks each board into place. Also, be sure to choose laminate flooring that comes with a padded backing.

  1. Allow the flooring to acclimate in your home for 48 hours.
  2. Remove any existing flooring and thoroughly sweep the floor. (If you're installing over concrete, install a vapor barrier and tape any seams.)
  3. Begin installing at the doorway and work backward into the room.
  4. Begin installing the flooring, making sure each piece is completely snapped into place. Use a hammer and a block of wood (or a rubber mallet) to keep joints tight.
  5. Stagger joints. Try not to install any pieces less than 12 inches long.
  6. Allow for expansion by leaving 1/4 inch space where the floor meets the baseboard.
  7. Install shoe molding at baseboard with finish nails to cover expansion gaps after completing floor.

A compound mitre saw works well for cutting the boards. The only other tools you should need are a hammer or mallet for tapping each piece into place. By the time you finish one room, you should know how to install laminate flooring like a DIY pro and be ready to tackle the rest of your home.