Strong, easy to maintain, and available in a huge array of colours and styles, laminate flooring is a popular choice for many homes. And, luckily, installing it is a snap – quite literally! Laminate planks snap together with ease, and you won’t need any grout, mortar, or adhesives. To get you started, we’ve put together this quick guide on how to lay laminate flooring.
- Laminate planks
- Rubber mallet
- Tape measure
- Utility knife
- Tapping block
- Speed square
- Circular saw, jigsaw, or handsaw
- Safety gear – e.g. gloves, kneepads, dust mask
1. Prep the area
Clear the room and remove any baseboards and trim. You don’t have to do this, but it’ll make for a more professional look if you do! Once the room is clear, do a thorough sweep and vacuum.
Make sure you know exactly what you’re laying your laminate planks on top of. Are you placing directly on top of a subfloor, or over an existing floor? Either way, you’ll need to prep the space appropriately, by making sure it’s level and that it’s properly protected.
2. Install the underlay
Laminate flooring manufacturers always recommend using an underlay with their products. Underlay provides cushioning and insulation, and acts as a vapour barrier to prevent moisture from reaching the subfloor. If you’re wondering what underlay is right for you, check out our guide to types of laminate flooring underlay.
Whatever underlay you choose, now’s the time to put it down, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Many will come with a handy adhesive strip to hold the underlay in place. Use the utility knife to trim the underlay to fit.
3. Test the layout
Take a moment to decide on which way you’d like the planks to lie and lay a few down as a test run to get an idea of how things will look. You can mix up patterns and colours for a natural feel. Don’t click them together just yet (they don’t come apart easily if you make a mistake) and be careful not to walk on the planks until they’re secured together.
Your final row may need to be thinner than the previous ones, so be prepared to cut them to size. If it’s looking too thin, adjust the first row to balance it out, and don’t forget to include spacers in your measurements.
4. Install the planks
Start with one row running the length of the room and build from there. The planks should click together quite easily. For the best look, be sure to stagger the seams, and remember to test your layouts before committing!
You’ll need to cut end pieces to fit the end of rows and around things like door frames and corners. Don’t worry about wastage – some of these pieces can be used to start and end other rows as you work across the room.
Gently knock planks into place using a mallet and a tapping block. It’s a good idea to use a piece of cut off laminate to add a bit of extra protection between the plank you’re working with and the tapping block.
When installing the planks, use spacers or packers to keep a small gap between the plank and the wall or any obstacles you can’t remove, such as built-in wardrobes or pipes. This is because laminate floors are “floating floors”, they need space to expand and contract as temperatures throughout the year.
5. Finishing touches
Once the floor is complete, it’s time to remove your spacers and pop any baseboards and trim back into place. A final sweep and vacuum, and you’re done!
- Lee Wallender, 2022, “How to Install Laminate Flooring”, The Spruce
- 2023, “Pro Tips and Tricks for Installing Laminate Flooring”, Family Handyman
- “How to lay laminate flooring”, Bunnings