How to install laminate flooring

Before you buy

Choosing proper materials is essential factor of determination after installation performance. Only durable enough for certain area laminate flooring should be used. Abrasion class for most residential applications should be AC3 or higher, for commercial properties use only higher graded products. Check manufacturer warranties and possible reasons for voiding.


Laminate flooring is a man made material and wearing layer not affected by humidity, but core layer is still a wood and have an ability to shrink and expand depending on moisture level. Acclimatization period for most laminate flooring brands 48 – 72 hours in the room where it will be installed with normal temperature a humidity level.

Subfloor preparation

Make sure subfloor is flat and variations between two highest and lowest point do not exceed 3/16 inches (4.76 mm) within 10’. Any damages or unevenness should be fixed prior to installation. Moisture level should be checked and be within normal range as defined by manufacturer.

Door jambs should be cut letting the laminate freely to go underneath.


Click-lock floating laminate do not attached to subfloor and very easy to install with minimum carpenter skills, but following installation instructions is extremely important. The whole project will be completed in a few simple steps:

- remove shoe base and baseboards

- clean the subfloor and vacuum all remains

- install vapor barrier over concrete subfloor or laminate flooring underlayment over plywood. No underlayment installation required if it attached to every laminate plank by manufacturer

- eliminate the tongue from planks which will be used as a first row using table saw

- start putting laminate flooring planks together in a first row. Always leave 1/4 – 3/8 of an inch (6 – 9 millimeters) expansion zone between flooring and walls or other objects such cabinets

- next and all other rows start from the planks which are 8 – 10 inches differ in length from previous one for the random pattern and half of the length for uniformed pattern. Never start laying the flooring with same sizes first planks

- install thresholds and transitions

- install baseboards and shoe base molding.


Even though laminate is moisture resistant flooring material always check if particular type and brand can be installed in the bathrooms. Manufactures warranties might not cover some flooring which will be installed in the rooms with potentially high humidity level.

Always check with manufacturer if planning to install laminate flooring over radian heated subfloor.

On a table saw make all cuts holding the planks with a finish side up. Using a circular hand saw cut the planks placing the finishing side down.

Do not nail shoe base molding to the laminate flooring, but to the walls only.

Optionally, for the best visual appearance while installing wider laminate flooring planks in narrow rooms plan to start and finish with equally wide strips.

Tools require:

- Tape measure
- Pencil
- Utility knife
- Pry bar
- Hammer
- Door jambs saw
- Pneumatic 18 gauge finish nail gun (for baseboards and shoe base molding installation)
- Air compressor
- Miter saw or circular hand saw
- Table saw
- Vacuum
- Drill (for transitions installation)
- Safety glasses, mask, gloves