Laminate flooring is a popular flooring solution that gives the effect of almost any surface, from hardwood to marble, at a fraction of the cost. It’s also quite easy to install, even for the DIY-averse, thanks to the interlocking design that allows you to put it together without the need for glue or nails.
As laminate flooring is laid “floating”, meaning it’s not fixed to the floor below, it expands and contracts without bucking – making it ideal for use on top of underfloor heating (there’s a separate guide on installing that here produced by Topps Tiles), as long as you have a compatible underlay.
While the installation of laminate flooring is quite straightforward, it’s helpful to follow a guide like this if it’s your first time. This will take you through the steps necessary to lay most types you’ll find in the shops.
1. Measure the room
Begin by measuring the width and length of the room at its widest and longest points, then multiply them together to get the area of the room. Add an extra ten per cent for wastage and you have the total area of flooring you’ll need to buy.
2. Prepare the sub-floor
Ensure the floor beneath your floor is dry and level, and that any floorboards are firmly secured. If the floor is uneven, use a self-levelling compound to achieve a flat surface. You will also need to put down a damp-proof membrane to protect against moisture.
3. Put down the underlay
The underlay acts as a cushion between your laminate flooring boards and the floor below. A combined underlay is usually the best choice, as you only need to fit one layer of it. However, if you have floorboards, you may need to use wood fibre boards, which need to be laid with a 5mm expansion gap between one another.
4. Remove skirting boards and clean
If possible, remove the skirting boards so that they can later be fitted on top of the new floor, then remove all debris from the area with a vacuum cleaner.
5. Lay the laminate flooring
Beginning in a corner, lay the first row of boards along the longest straight wall, using plastic spacers that correspond to the manufacturer’s recommended expansion gap, which is usually around 12mm. Laminate flooring uses an interlocking “tongue and groove” mechanism that allows them to snap together.
The last board of a row will usually need to be cut to fit the size of the room. You can use these offcuts to start the next row. When each row is complete, push it firmly into the last one. If you need to go around pipes, drill a hole larger than the pipe in the edge of the board, then make a cut so you can fit the piece back in around it.
6. Finishing up
Remove the spacers and insert cork expansion strips, before re-setting the skirting board over your new flooring. Fit a metal or wooden threshold over the flooring in all the doorways. Your flooring is now complete!