These Tips Will Help You Install Laminate like a Pro

Laminate flooring is a popular choice for homeowners. It is excellent for high-traffic areas as it is resistant to wear and tear. It can also be waterproof and provide UV resistance. The best part is that these features are available in various colors, designs, and patterns. 

In most cases, installing laminate flooring is an achievable DIY project for homeowners. If you are thinking about tackling this project, here are a few tips and tricks from the pros. 

Pro Tips and Tricks for Installing Laminate Flooring

Following these tips and tricks can help your installation process go more smoothly and achieve the finished look you are hoping for. 

1. Prepare the Subfloor 

It's essential to start with a good foundation, meaning a smooth and level subfloor. You don't want any height differences over ⅛-inch. Height differences are common with seams and may need to be sanded down. You may need to use a leveling compound for dips in the floor. Finally, if you notice any squeaks while inspecting your floor, take care of them by screwing down the plywood to the joists. 

2. Taping Your Underlayment 

Laminate is a floating floor, which is possible thanks to the underlayment. There are different types of underlayment, but almost all are manufactured in strips. You will need to tape the underlayment. Make sure you use whatever tape is recommended by the manufacturer and tape perpendicularly to the directions of the planks to avoid bubbling. Alternatively, you can buy underlayment already outfitted with seam tape to make the process easier. 

3. Get Your Materials Ready

Laminate flooring often needs time to acclimate to the room you are installing it in. You will usually want them to sit in the space (side by side, not stacked) for 48 hours prior to installation. Meanwhile, you'll want to gather any tools you need for the job, such as a saw or laminate shear. 

Next, before you lay the laminate, take careful measurements of your room. Some rooms are narrower at one end than the other. If this is the case, you'll want to rip your first and last row so they're tapered to fit the room's varying dimensions. Only tapering the last row can look awkward. 

4. Lay Your Laminate 

Try to lay your laminate strategically. Some individuals start with the longest wall, while others begin on the wall parallel to a room's focal point. Laminates should snap and click together. It's best to snap in one entire row at a time. Sometimes, you may need to fit the butt ends of planks together to form a row and then click it in as one. A tapping block may be necessary if your laminate isn't effortlessly clicking together. However, you don't want to simply place the block against your flooring. Instead, sacrifice a scrap of laminate to put between your plank and the block to preserve the edges. 

5. Beware of Expansion and Contraction

Laminate floors expand and contract, which is why most manufacturers recommend using spacers. However, making accommodations for expansion during installation may not be enough. Heavy furniture can hold down the laminate and prevent it from moving smoothly. This can lead to a hump if it pushes up during expansion or separation if it pulls away when the floor contracts. Having two larger pieces of furniture directly across from each other can exacerbate the issue. Remedy this by either changing up your furniture pieces, installing felt pads to help distribute their weight, and making sure the laminate you choose is strong enough to support your furnishings.  

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