How to Install Laminate Flooring

Glueless laminate flooring is easy to install and can be walked on the same day.

Give your floors a new look by installing laminate flooring. Learn how with these step-by-step instructions.

Looking for a quick and easy update to your home? Laminate or engineered flooring offers the appeal of hardwood but at a lower cost with easier installation. You could enjoy a beautiful new laminate floor tomorrow. We'll show you step-by-step how to get it done.

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What You Need

  • Pry bar
  • Utility knife
  • Tape rule
  • Circular saw or handsaw
  • One pair sawhorses
  • Clamps
  • Hammer
  • Jamb saw
  • Nail set
  • Laminate flooring (glueless installation)
  • Underlayment (one roll covers approximately 100 square feet)
  • Installation kit 
  • Finishing nails

Step 1: Acclimate the Flooring

Flooring should sit in the room for at least 48 hours prior to installation, giving it time to expand or contract in relation to the room's temperature and humidity. This prevents buckling and other problems after installation.

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Step 2: Remove Existing Baseboard Molding

Use the pry bar to remove baseboard from the wall and set the pieces aside for reinstallation. Floating laminate planks (the kind used in this project) should be installed over a hard, smooth surface, such as vinyl. Remove damaged flooring to reveal the subfloor.

Step 3: Install the Underlayment

Clear the floor of staples, nails, and other debris. Roll out the underlayment. Do not overlap adjoining strips. Use the utility knife to cut pieces as needed. The foam underlayment deadens sound and helps the floor feel more resilient.

Step 4: Cut the First Row

Depending on your layout, you may need to rip, or cut, the first row of planks lengthwise. If using a power saw, cut with the finished side down; if using a handsaw, cut with the finished side up. Use clamps to steady planks as you cut them.

Step 5: Leave an Expansion Gap

Wedge the spacer chips that come with your installation kit between the wall and the planks to leave an expansion gap of 1/4 inch.

Step 6: Install the First Row

Install the planks with the tongue side facing the wall (some manufacturers recommend you cut off the tongue edge of planks that face walls). Connect one plank to another by connecting the tongues and grooves. You may be able to snugly connect the planks by hand, or you may need to use a pull bar from the installation kit and a hammer to pull them together, or a tapping block to tap the joints together.

Step 7: Cut and Install the Last Plank

Cut the last plank in the row to length and install. Be sure to save the scrap if it's at least 12 inches long.

Step 8: Install Additional Rows

As you snap on new rows, stagger the seams at least 12 inches in adjoining rows. You often can start a new row with the scrap from the plank you cut to end the previous row.

Step 9: Install the Last Row

You'll need to slide the planks into position at an angle, then gently pry them into place with the pry bar. Be sure you leave a 1/4-inch expansion gap between the last row and the wall.

Step 10: Cut Around Door Casings

Don't try to cut planks to fit around door casings. Instead, use the jamb saw to cut the door casing about 1/16 inch above the height of the flooring, giving the plank room to slide under the casing. Rest a piece of flooring with underlayment on the floor and against the casing. Rest the jamb saw on top and cut the casing to the desired height.

Step 11: Reinstall the Baseboards

After the planks are in place, reinstall the baseboard molding using the hammer and finishing nails. Then install shoe molding over the expansion joints and use transition strips to connect the laminate to adjoining surfaces, such as tile or carpet. Do not nail through the floor, just through the trim and wall. Your laminate floor installation is now complete, and you are able to resume use of your room immediately.

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