Summary: Learn how to lay laminate flooring, lay tongue-and-groove laminate flooring, fit laminate board around a pipe, fit laminate flooring in a doorway and lock laminate boards.
Most laminate flooring has a wood grain finish but alternatives are available with a stone effect finish. Laminate flooring for kitchens and bathrooms has a special water-resistant core, so consult the supplier before you buy. Laminate boards fit together in one of two ways: the tongue-and-groove method or they lock together.
- Clean the floor of dust and debris.
- Wearing a thick glove, run your hand over the surface to check for protruding nails. Remove any that you find.
- All laminate flooring should be laid on an underlay as it will cushion the new flooring and counteract any irregularities in the sub-floor.
- If laying laminate flooring onto a solid concrete floor (or any solid floor) cover it with a damp-proof membrane before laying the underlay. You can buy underlay with a damp-proof membrane incorporated into one side.
- Lay the underlay over the floor ensuring the edge fits tightly in the junction where the floor meets the bottom of the wall. Butt the edges of separate sheets together and secure with tape. Do not overlap the underlay.
- If there are radiator pipes in the room cut the underlay so it fits around them leaving 10mm (1/2 in) clearance.
- Calculate the size of the floor you are covering to determine how many packs of laminate strips you need.
- Wood-engineered laminate needs to acclimatise to the conditions of the room in which they are going to be laid. Remove them from the packaging and leave them in the room for two or three days before you start the lay them.
Laying tongue-and-groove laminate flooring
- As you use glue to secure the tongue-and-groove joints, it is a good idea to lay out a few rows without glue to check the boards fit together correctly. Always lay laminate boards along the longest wall.
- If you are laying wood-engineered laminates, you should leave a 10mm (4/10in) expansion gap around the perimeter of the room. Maintain the gap with wooden wedges.
- Start in a corner of the room and lay the first board with the tongue facing out into the room.
- Run a bead of glue along the groove on the end of the second board and push it on to the tongue on the end of the first board.
- Continue laying the boards in this way until you reach the other side of the room. Unless you are lucky the last board at the end of the row will have to be cut to size with a panel saw or a jigsaw. Take care not to chip the board by supporting it while cutting.
- Any glue oozing from the joints should be wiped away with a damp cloth.
- Hook one end of a pulling bar over the end of the last row and tap the upstanding lip at the other end of the pulling bar with a hammer. This will close up the joints between the ends of the boards. Again wipe away any glue that has been forced out of the joints.
- If the cut-off from the end of the first row is 300mm (12in) or longer then it can be used to start the second row. Joints between neighbouring rows should always be staggered by at least 300mm (12in). Apply a bead of glue along the grooved edge and push it into position. Continue across the room until the second row is laid.
- Before starting on the third row gently knock the board together using a hammer and a tapping block, taking care not to break the tongue on the boards. Wipe away any excess glue forced from the joints.
- Continue until the floor is laid. Try and avoid patterns.
To fit laminate board around a pipe
- Place a board on top of the one laid nearest to the pipe and slide it across until its edge touches the pipe. Mark the position of the pipe’s centre on the edge of the board.
- Position the board firmly against the skirting board and mark the position of the pipe’s centre on the short edge of the board.
- Using a try square, faintly draw intersecting straight lines across the board from the marks on the edges. The point where the lines intersect is the centre of the pipe.
- Use a drill bit the same diameter as the pipe (or a fraction bigger) to drill through the board.
- Cut across the board and through the centre of the drilled hole. The two pieces will fit neatly around the pipe.
Fitting laminate flooring in a doorway
On reaching a doorway the best approach to achieve a neat finish is to cut away a small piece of the architrave and doorstop and slide the laminate board underneath it.
- Push a length of board up against the doorframe and mark its thickness on the frame.
- Use a panel saw to cut away the wood at the bottom of the frame.
- Cut the laminate board so it fits firmly against he skirting board and into the doorway.
- Slide the board into position.
- To conceal and protect the edge of the board in the doorway fit a threshold bar. Cut it to the width of the doorway and screw it in place.
- Pulling bar
- Panel saw OR jigsaw
- Tapping block
- Try square (For cutting around pipes)
- Power drill (For cutting around pipes)
- Damp-roof membrane
- Laminate floor underlay
- Wood adhesive
- Threshold strip and screws (For fitting laminate flooring in a doorway)
Once you have laid a row of locking laminate boards the row needs to be lifted to lock them in position with the previous row. So you will have to have help at hand.
- Starting in a left-hand corner lay the first row parallel to the longest wall. The short edge of the board should be against the wall, while there should be a small expansion gap between the long edge and the skirting board. To maintain an even gap place spacers between the edge of the board and the skirting board.
- On reaching the end of the row you will probably need to cut a board.
- As the joints between the boards should be staggered, the second row can begin with the offcut from the last board in the first row. But if it is less than 300mm (1ft) in length, cut a board in half and use it instead.
- On finishing the second row lift it with your helper so that the long edge is at an angle of 30° to the first row. Lower and push the row down so it locks in place.
- Continue to lay and lock the boards together in this manner until you come to the last row. The last row will probably have to be cut to width to fill the remaining gap.
- Lay a row of boards on top of the penultimate row. Using an offcut of board measure the width required, transferring it to the boards you have laid out. By using this method the width of the last row of boards will follow the profile of the wall.
- With the width of the boards marked, alter the line by about 5mm (1/5 in) to reproduce the expansion gap.
- Cut the boards to width along the new line using either a jigsaw or panel saw.
- Remove all the spacers. To conceal the expansion all around the room gap, nail or glue trim to the skirting board. Do not fix the trim to the floor.
- Panel saw OR jigsaw
- Timber trim
- Nails OR wood adhesive
How to lay laminate flooring video
- Laying a concrete floor
- Laying a plywood subfloor
- Laying ceramic floor tiles
- Laying floorboards onto joists
- Laying terracotta or quarry tiles in a diagonal pattern
- Laying vinyl floor tiles
- Laying wood flooring
- Measurements and advice when laying floors
- Planning the arrangement of floor tiles
- Pros and cons of the three types of wood flooring
- Sanding floors
- Using a drum sander