Laminate flooring is relatively easy to lay and a great way to breathe new life into a room. It lends a clean, contemporary look and is easy to clean. But how easy is it to fit? Well, comparatively, although it can be tricky in places.
Getting the Tools Together
There aren’t many specialist tools required for laying laminate flooring but one or two will make the job a lot easier. Safety gear is essential, including a mask, particularly for non-wood boards, and knee pads might be worth their weight in gold.
You’ll need a way of accurately marking and cutting the boards to size, a tenon saw with a workbench is a cheap and easy option, particularly if you aren’t that experienced with power tools. You can do a lot of damage with a wayward power tool, but if you are more confident, a power mitre saw will be faster.
You will also need a ‘puller’, a sort of crowbar that hooks over the last board with an upturned tab that can be hit with a hammer. You will bless this instrument before the end of the day, trust us. You can also buy wedges to prevent the boards from getting too close to the skirting, but off-cuts of wood will be fine.
Maintaining this gap to allow for expansion and movement is more important for engineered wood boards but it’s worth doing with other types as well. If the boards are tongue and groove rather than click-fit it will be worthwhile buying special straps with ratchets. These hold each board in place once it has been glued while you prepare the next one.
Preparing the Floor
You need to vacuum or sweep the floor then check it by hand (carefully!) for any irregularities like protruding nail heads, which can be knocked down. Then lay down the underlay. This should be cut to fit the room as precisely as possible, but leave about half an inch gap around any heating pipes. Where two sheets of underlay meet, tape them together without overlapping.
Put together a few pieces of laminate flooring to get used to fitting them together. Some click-fit and don’t need glue but others, usually engineered wood boards, are a simple tongue and groove and will need to be glued.
Laying the Boards
Start from the corner furthest from the door and lay the boards along the longest side of the room When you get to the edge, measure and cut a piece to fit the gap. Place masking tape over the join before marking and cut with the face up, these two tips will minimise chipping of the boards.
Click or push the boards together and use an off-cut of flooring to protect the edge if you need to hammer them together. Put a block against the off-cut and hammer that, not the edge of the board.
Make sure there’s always at least a foot of overlap between the joins on each row (laying them like the classic brick pattern, in other words). This will make the floor stronger and less liable to dip or rise slightly. When you get to the last but one plank you will need the puller.
Using the Puller
Place the puller over the edge of the last but one plank and place a carpet off-cut or stout cardboard underneath it. Then wallop the upturned end of the puller with a mallet and it will pull the board into place. This is necessary because you won’t have room to push the board in, as the wall is too close.
Use the puller for the very last piece as well, but you may also have to cut off the bottom of the groove and drop the board in if there isn’t enough room to get the puller in. This can happen if the wall is an awkward shape. At the doors and other intrusions, like pipes, cut to fit, using a tile shaping tool or by making a cardboard template.
More Hints and Tips to Follow
That’s the basics of laying laminate flooring. There are many more hints and tips for making the job easier and better looking so we’ve collected those in a second article on the site. Have fun!