Wood laminate floor has been steadily gaining popularity among homeowners in recent years. It’s affordable, easy to maintain and simple to install. In fact, it’s so simple to install that many homeowners choose to do it themselves instead of hiring a professional.
However, if you’re not the handy type, you may be worried that installing a wood laminate floor is a bigger project than you should tackle. Although all laminate floors are different, here’s a basic installation guide so you can decide if it’s a task you can handle:
1. Clean the floor. Wood laminate floor can be installed on top of vinyl flooring, concrete or hardwood floors. You simply need to sweep and clean the existing floor before beginning installation. If you have carpet, however, you’ll need to remove it first.
2. Lay the underlayment. If the underlayment is not already attached to the wood laminate floor planks, you’ll need to lay this thin pad on the floor. It’s designed to cushion the laminate, deaden noise and provide more comfort as you walk across the floor. For the most part, it’s simply a matter of rolling out the pad (thicknesses vary) and cutting with a utility knife or scissors to fit the entire floor.
3. Open some boxes. Most wood laminate flooring companies recommend that you work from two or three boxes of planks at a time. By alternating boxes, you’re more likely to avoid problems based on the color or pattern variations.
4. Measure. To maintain the integrity of the floor, you need to ensure that you won’t end up with very short or skinny pieces when you reach a wall or doorway. One way of solving this problem is by measuring the dimensions of your room and the dimensions of the planks. Determine how many planks you’ll need to complete the room, and if you’ll have extra inches when you reach the far wall.
5. Lay the planks. You’ll start in one corner of the room and work your way out. Most wood laminate floor planks are designed to snap together based on tongue-and-groove system. You simply slide them into place and snap them down. One word of warning: Not every make and model slides together easily. Some require tapping with a rubber mallet or other tool.
6. Work the edges. For many wood laminate floor installers, the edges present the most difficult problems. You’ll have to cut the planks to fit the edges of the room. A circular saw or jigsaw is the best tool for the job, although a handsaw could work. Doorways, too, present a problem for many wood laminate floor installers. You’ll need to cut around the edges carefully to ensure the floor slips beneath the door frame. To work the planks under the door frame, you may need to bend or tap them into place.
7. Finish the room. Once the floor is laid, you’ll need to cover the bare edges. Most people choose to cover them with quarter-round trim, which needs to be cut to length, nailed in place and – in some cases – painted.
If this sounds like a job you can master, you may want to consider installing wood laminate floor without the help of a professional. It’s a fairly simple do-it-yourself project that many homeowners can complete in a short period of time.