If you are looking for a floor covering solution that is inexpensive and hard wearing, but provides a smart, contemporary look to your home, then laminate flooring is probably right at the top of your shopping list.
The only thing that puts some people off is the thought that it might be complicated to fit, or need special skills and expertise. The truth is, however, that anyone can install laminate flooring, provided they have a modicum of DIY skill, patience and the ability to follow a basic set of instructions.
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get started.
At the risk of stating the obvious, always read the instructions first. While the following steps apply to laminate floors in general, every type can be slightly different, so make sure you are aware of any additional or special requirements for yours.
Preparing the subfloor can be a project in itself if you are laying onto an uneven surface, but assuming that you have a smooth subfloor that is ready to go, it is just a case of making sure it is clean and dry. If you are laying over concrete, you will need to add a layer of plastic to create a moisture barrier.
Finally, it is a good idea to store the flooring in the room where it will be fitted for a couple of days before installation. This gives it a chance to acclimatise to the temperature and humidity conditions.
Place spacers around the wall edges to allow for expansion. You can use small sections of planks for this purpose. Typically, you will need approximately a quarter of an inch, but check the manufacturer instructions.
Loosely position the planks for your first row, with the tongues facing the wall. When you have them ready, cut the tongue off the long side of all your row one pieces, so they will lie flush to the wall.
Next, trim your first plank for row two, following the manufacturer instructions for staggering the joints – typically, you will need at least a 12-inch stagger for strength and an attractive finish.
Now you are ready to get flooring, inserting the tongue side of your shortened first plank of row two into the groove of the first plank of row one. You might have to push at an angle to set it in, but you will soon get the feel of it.
Carry on with the next plank of row one, then row two, and so on until you reach the end of rows one and two, trimming the final pieces to allow for spacers and the expansion gap as necessary.
Completing the job
Continue adding more rows, and before you know it, you will have completed the room. For the final row, you will need to cut the pieces to fit. Just take your time, and remember the expansion gap.
Take care going around obstacles such as pipes. You can use a jigsaw to cut a small piece to go behind the pipe, then carefully glue it into place.
Finally, it is a case of removing the wall spacers and installing the base boards and shoe mouldings. Attach these trim items to the wall, not the floor.
And there you have it, a beautiful laminate floor, laid by your own fair hand.