Laminate floor boards are a great and simple option for your new flooring because it is easily accessible and can be fitted yourself – only after you have read this article of course.
Laminate can also be hard wearing because it has a strong surface. That makes it very scratch resistant and in turn an extremely popular choice.
Types of underlay vs type of floor
The best option is to remove all floor coverings that are currently in the room where you want to lay your laminate. Also note that you can’t lay it on carpet or on top of vinyl.
Choosing your underlay is also an important option because the Underlay needed will depend on type of room and your preferences in terms of warmth, sound reduction and therefore your budget too.
Read our article to find out more about the type of underlay you need: What is the best underlay for laminate flooring or engineered wood floor?
Now let’s look at what you need to do to ensure your new flooring fits well and even stands the test of time
Step 1 – Check for damp
If you read our article about choosing your underlay, you will know that, whether damp exists or not, is a key driver of your purchasing decision.
Here’s exactly how to check for damp.
Purchase half a metre square of polythene sheeting. Tape the polythene sheet to the floor, making sure there are no gaps.
Leave it to sit on the concrete overnight and check back the next morning.
When you check back, if you find there’s moisture underneath, then you have got moisture on the floor and you do need to use a damp proof membrane (dpm).
Our underlays have a dpm built-in so they will protect your floor from moisture – remember that the dpm goes underneath the underlay against the subfloor.
In circumstances where you are unsure, always use a dpm because having one built into the underlay will never do harm to any subfloor.
Step 2 – Prepare the Laminate Flooring Expansion gaps
You may or may not have heard about expansion gaps. These are absolutely crucial when fitting the your floor boards.
What is an expansion gap?
It’s a gap of approximately 10mm. which is needed all the way around the edge of the room.
The reason it’s necessary is because you are fitting a floating floor. That means it will move, expand and contract based on the climatisation of the room it’s laid in.
What’s more, without the gap, the floor will still move, but instead of filling the gaps on the outside of the room, it will raise itself in the middle of the room.
Meaning the boards will rise against each other, which wouldn’t look good at all and it certainly wouldn’t feel good underfoot. In worst case scenario, you may need to replace the whole floor if there are no expansion gaps.
Here’s how to create expansion gaps…
To ensure the expansion gap remains the same all around the room, simply cut a piece of wood that is 10mm thick to use as wedges.
As a little hack you could make wedges out of unused skirting board if you have any.
The quality doesn’t matter as much as a consistent thickness, because you will be removing the wedges once you’ve finished. Probably never to be used again.
Place the wedges around the outside of the room, using approximately 4-5 wedges on each side of the room should work well.
Now you’ve prepared the sub floor, it’s time to explain how to lay the floor boards.
Step 3 – Lay the Laminate floorboards
Each laminated board has a profile around its edges.
2 of the edges on each board are bigger and stick out (known as the tongue edge) – these need to face towards you as you lay the flooring.
The smaller profile edges have a groove. Known as the groove sides. They need to face away from you as you lay the floor.
It’s best to start at the left-hand side of the room, working your way across the wall, which is on the longest side of the room.
So, take your first board and push it up against the expansion wedges. Remember, the grooved edge goes against the wall and the tongue edge faces you.
Once the first board is laid, put the next board to the right of it – make sure you go along the room in rows (not columns),
Slot the tongue side of the second laminate board into the first groove of the first one. Again, making sure the groove is facing away from you. Make sure the second board is perfectly aligned with the first on, otherwise the join will be messed up.
When you get to the other end of the room, it’s highly likely that the last piece will be too big to fit in.
So, you will need to cut the board.
The best way to cut it is by using a jigsaw or a fine tooth saw. The reason you need a fine tooth saw is because – a fine tooth saw will give a smooth finish to the board
If you’re using a jigsaw, you should use a laminate blade so that you don’t split the top of the laminate.
Moving on to the second row
Once you have cut your last board and fitted it down – you can use the off-cut from the previous board to start your next row.
However, make sure the off cut is more than 50cm long – any shorter than that and it’s best to start with a brand-new board.
In most rooms, you will need a partner to help you fit the subsequent adjoining rows. Here’s why.
When slotting the next board board into the previously laid row, simply hold the new board at a 45 degree angle then position the groove into the tongue.
Then, continue across the room fitting the boards together as you go.
As you move along the subsequent row, you will need to lift the whole row up to 45 degrees angle, to slot the boards into the previously fitted row.
Make sure everything is slotted together nicely before moving onto the next row of boards.
Repeat this process until you have filled the room.
Step 4 – Laying Down Scotia Beading
Many rooms use beading to hide any gaps between the boards and the walls.
You’re not restricted to beading though, you could put skirting board over it instead.
To stick the beading down you will need either adhesive glue or a panel pin nail gun – Note, never stick the beading to the floor because you want it to freely expand during the summer and winter months – only ever stick beading to the skirting board or wall.
Cut the beading to the length of the room’s walls, when you get to the corners, use a mitre box to cut at a 45 degree angle.
That way, each joined piece of beading will fit together nicely.
Step 5 – Add Finishing touches and maintain
You can add parts to the flooring to tidy up. For example a cover hole for the radiator piping that comes through the floors.
You will also need to use door thresholds – there are a few different types depending on whether you are joining laminate to laminate or laminate to carpet.
Simply cut the threshold to the right size and then fit it between the rooms at the doorway.
It’s a good idea to invest in a cleaning kit for your laminate floor as it’s the best way to maintain it, to make it last as long as possible.
Benefits of the click method Laminate Flooring design
The method we have explained above is known as the tongue and groove method for reasons which hopefully you now understand.
However, there is another method called the click method.
With the click method, you will start in the same part of the room and still work across the room in rows (long ways). However, you don’t need 2 people to fit the floor. And that’s because you don’t need to lift the whole row every time. Each board simply slots freely into the other board.