If you're looking to install floor, we have just a few things we want you to be mindful of.

Part One:

PREP

moisture & low spots

You don’t want to do a laminate flooring installation over a damp subfloor. Test for excess moisture in concrete floors by sealing the edges of a 3-ft. square of plastic sheeting to the floor with duct tape. Wait 24 hours before you peel back the plastic to check for moisture. Water droplets on the plastic or darkened concrete indicate a possible problem with excess moisture. Ask your flooring supplier for advice before beginning a how to install laminated flooring job.

Test for moisture in concrete

Check for low spots in the floor

Check for low spots in the floor with an 8-ft. straightedge and mark their perimeter with a pencil. Fill depressions less than 1/4 in. deep with layers of building paper. Fill deeper depressions with a hardening type floor filler available from flooring stores.

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Cut the doorjambs and casings

Use pull saw to undercut doorjambs and casings (door moldings) to make space for the flooring to slip underneath. Guide the saw with a scrap of laminate flooring stacked on a piece of underlayment.

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Break and pry out the cutoff chunks of jamb and casing with a screwdriver. Use a sharp chisel or utility knife to complete the cut in areas the saw couldn’t reach.

To prepare your room for the new laminate flooring installation you have to make sure the existing floor is smooth and flat before installing a floating floor overtop. Clear the old floor, then smooth it by scraping off lumps and sweeping it.

Allowing the floor to expand and contract freely is critical. Leave at least a 3/8-in. expansion space along the edges. You can hide the gap under the baseboards or leave the baseboards in place and cover the gap with base shoe molding or quarter round as we did. Cover the expansion space at openings or transitions to other types of flooring with special transition moldings (Photo 12). Buy these from the dealer.

Don’t lay this type of floor over damp concrete or damp crawlspaces. Check all concrete for excess moisture. As a starting point, use the plastic mat test shown in Photo 1.

Even though some manufacturers allow it, professional installers we spoke to advised against installing floating floors in kitchens, full or three-quarter baths, or entryways, all areas where they might be subjected to standing water.

Finally, saw off the bottoms of doorjambs and trim to allow for the flooring to slide underneath (Photo 3&4). Leaving an expansion gap at exterior doors presents a unique challenge. In older houses, you could carefully remove the threshold and notch it to allow the flooring to slide underneath. For most newer exterior doors, you can butt a square-nosed transition piece against the threshold.

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Part Two:

INSTALLING

underlayment and laminate planks

Unroll the underlayment and lap it up the baseboards or walls 2 in. Temporarily secure the edges with masking tape. Butt the sheets together and seal the seams with the tape recommended by the manufacturer. Cut the first row of boards narrower if necessary to ensure that the last row of flooring will be at least 2 in. wide. Then start the installation by locking the ends of the first row of flooring together. Measure and cut the last piece to fit, allowing the 3/8-in. expansion space.

Underlayment & First Row

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Start the second row with the leftover cutoff piece from the first row, making sure the end joints are offset at least 12 in. from the end joints in the first row. With the board held at about a 45-degree angle, engage the tongue in the groove. Push in while you rotate the starter piece down toward the floor. The click indicates the pieces have locked together. The joint between boards should draw tight.

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FOAM

Floating floors must be installed over a thin cushioning pad called underlayment (Photo 5). Underlayment is usually sold in rolls.

Ask your flooring dealer to suggest the best one for your situation. Some types combine a vapor barrier and padding. Install this type over concrete or other floors where moisture might be a problem. Others reduce sound transmission. Take extra care when installing underlayment that includes a vapor barrier. Lap the edges up the wall and carefully seal all the seams as recommended by the manufacturer. Keep a roll of tape handy to patch accidental rips and tears as you install the floor.

You may have to cut your first row of flooring narrower to make sure the last row is at least 2 in. wide. To figure this, measure across the room and divide by the width of the exposed face on the flooring. The number remaining is the width of the last row. If the remainder is less than 2, cut the first row narrower to make this last row wider. After the first few rows, installation is a snap. Simply follow the guidelines in Photos 6 – 8.

Tap flooring pieces tightly together

tapping block detail

a tapping block is one of the special tools in the installation kit and will help you when you learn how to put down laminate flooring.

Leave a 1/4-in. space between the next full piece of flooring and the previous piece. Snap this piece into the first row. Snap a scrap of flooring across the ends being joined to hold them in alignment while you tap them together. Place the tapping block against the end of the floor piece and tap it with a hammer to close the gap.

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Part Three:

Special Techniques

corners & transitions

Prep flooring to fit around doorjambs

Plan ahead when you get near a doorjamb. Usually you have to slide the next piece of flooring under the jamb rather than tilt and snap it into place. To accomplish this, you must slice off the locking section of the tongue from the preceding row with a sharp utility knife before installing it.

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Mark a plank to fit a doorjamb

Cut the plank to be notched to length, allowing a 1-in. space for the future transition piece. Align the end with the end of the last plank laid and mark 3/8 in. inside the jamb to make sure the flooring extends under the door trim.

Finish marking the plank & cut

Cut the plank to be notched to length, allowing a 1-in. space for the future transition piece. Align the end with the end of the last plank laid and mark 3/8 in. inside the jamb to make sure the flooring extends under the door trim.

Glue and install the notched piece

Apply a thin bead of the manufacturer’s recommended glue along the edge where the portion of the tongue was removed. Slide the notched piece of flooring into place and tighten the glued edge by pounding on the special tapping block.

Install the transition strip

Cut a transition molding, in this case a square nose transition, to fit between the doorstops or jambs. Spread a bead of construction adhesive only on the area of the concrete floor that will be in contact with the transition piece. Set the transition in place and weight it down overnight. You can’t use the same tilt and snap installation technique where the flooring fits under doorjambs. You have to slide the flooring together instead. Photos 9 – 12 show how. If the opening requires a transition molding, cut the flooring short to leave space for it (Photo 13).

Make sure to be specific when ordering strip or transition moldings. Do you need it for a door way? Is there a step that needs to be covered or is the floor a little higher than your tile? These are questions you should ask yourself and let your supplier know so they may better assist you with your project.

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be safe!

have fun!

DIY

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