Laminate Floor Installation for Beginners | 9 Clever Tips

Okay, so today we’re going to install laminate
flooring, and I want to just get right to it, give you some tips that you need to know.
It is an easy installation, but you just have to start out with the right direction and
follow these tips. And please wait till the last tip. I don’t see that in any videos
that I see online, and I think it’s really important for a sound installation. But first,
let’s go over the tools. Very simple. You don’t need a whole lot. Basically a scraper
for prepping your subfloor. I like to use a big bar to take off pack strips if you have
carpet. This is a beating block basically just to collect the laminate flooring together.
A rubber mallet. And this is basically just a glorified crowbar. It’s just made so that
when you have your edging pieces in, you can clip that laminate together.

But these two
tools are important to install laminate and specifically for laminate. It’s also nice
to have an oscillating tool. This is for cutting door jams or cutting anything that you need
to slide your laminate flooring underneath. You can also just use a regular jam saw, but
an oscillating tool will make it a lot more efficient and easier. A standard circular
saw. And I’d probably say the absolute most important is knee pads. It could be very miserable
if you try to do this without knee pads. As I get older, I absolutely need them. So invest
in some good knee pads. You won’t go wrong with that.
Okay, so tip #1: acclimate the product in your home. Most of them need at least minimum
two days in the space that you’ll actually install them. Crisscross them like this. I
have some just 1xs that are holding them up, but you want the airflow and the humidity
of your room to acclimate this. If you don’t, you can end up with problems and a lot more
shrinkage and possibly gaps in the corners that you really don’t want.

So acclimate
it. The ideal temperature is between 60° and 80°, and the humidity level between 35%
and 60%. Now, there are specifications for your subfloor
humidity level. And really the only way to really gauge that is with a moisture meter.
We’ll show you how this works, but you’ll basically use these prongs to inject in a
wood surface, and it’ll give you a sensor on that. You want to be under 14% of humidity
on your subfloor. So if you’re doing a new home or if you’ve done something where there’s
a lot of moisture on a home, double-check it before you go installing this laminate
flooring. We’re going to remove this carpet, and I
would just suggest—if you start removing carpet—just cut it up into manageable sizes.
So if you’re a big, strong guy, maybe just do the whole room. But if not, maybe cut it
up into more manageable sizes. I’m just going to go for about 6-foot or so.

Just using
a simple utility knife, and I’m just going to score it down the length of the place.
I guess keep in mind if you’re going to be putting this out to the street for garbage
men, you make it too big, they’ll probably not going to pick it up. So make it manageable
for them to get it into the truck. As far as the foam, depending on how old this
is, it might be a nightmare getting it up or fairly easy. This actually doesn’t look
too bad; it’s not all flaking apart. But some of the old foam, if you might get it
up in just 6-inch pieces all the way around. Okay, so attach strips. Nothing fun about
them, but that’s where a longer bar so you’re not like leaning over and kneeling the whole
time; makes it a little bit easier. So I just like to use this big 36-inch bar. And just
give it a little leverage to pry this up. Okay, so for all these staples, you don’t
necessarily have to pull them up by hand.

I usually just use a floor scraper and just
wedge them out. You just want a nice, clean, flat surface. If you want to painstakingly
take out the staples, you can. But it’s a lot easier just with a little force. By
going in different directions, it’ll take those staples out.
So you’re going to want to cut this flush because you want this whole subfloor to be
on one surface. You don’t want to have this step up here. So we’ll just use our oscillating
tool to cut that out. Okay, so what I like to do before I start
sweeping everything up and get everything prepped is to cut all the areas where I need
to slide this floor underneath. So door casing, any type of area that I need to slide my trim
underneath. So what we have is our pad for reference for height and then just a spare
piece of our floor. We’ll just simply take our oscillating tool and cut that out.

So
now we have a nice, clean look at the bottom of your trim.
So if you are concerned about your subfloor, you can always use one of these meter. They’re
pretty simple to use; they just have little, sharp points that you want to inject into
the wood to get the reading. So we’ll turn this on. This subfloor is in a condo that
I know is pretty safe, but we’ll just go ahead and check it anyway.

So we’re 7.41%.
You want to be under 14%. Anything over 14% you need to dry the area.
We’ll just take a look at this. I spilled some water here earlier. This would be something
that wouldn’t be recommended to go over. This is such a small area; it’s not going
to be a big deal, and it’ll dry out. Yeah, so it’s high. So that’s saturated, so
you hear that beep. That means you would not be able to go over this.
Okay, so tip #2 is to have a nice, clean, flat subfloor. Most of the manufacturers are
going to require your floor to be flat and within 1/8-inch of difference in a 6-foot
area. So I have a 6-foot level here, and I’m just going to go over different areas in my
room and make sure that it’s flat. Basically any difference of 1/8 of an inch I’m going
to want to address.

So right now this is probably about a 32nd; not a big deal. I’d say probably
one of the biggest areas where you end up having crowning is where butt joints of the
plywood come into play. So always check your butt joints. Because if any water saturation—especially
on OSB—happen, usually it swells at the butt joints. And to address this—if you
did have a lot of rocking, you had an 1/8-inch difference—you can always take a belt sander
and sand down that seam. But you want to make sure that everything is within an 1/8-inch
of level. Worst case scenario, you can always floor level the entire floor. Most situations,
you just want to double-check things. This will probably be a common area. Here’s
the outside door area; water can be saturated around here. Just double-check that this doesn’t
have a big bump coming around. Okay, so we’re all within reason. The one
other detail you want to pay attention to is that you need to have joists that are 16
inches on center, and the subfloor has to be a minimum of 5/8 of an inch.

That’s the
requirement. If you’re going over engineered joists, you’re going to have to… basically
it’s the deflection. They don’t want you to have a lot of bowing in between your joists.
Do make sure that they’re 16 inches on center; you have a minimum of 5/8-inch plywood.
And if you have a trim saw, it makes it a lot easier to cut nice, straight joints. One
little pro tip is if you’re doing a lot of this laminate flooring is to invest in
a Hepa Vac that you can plug your saw into. This laminate stuff is very, very dusty. You
do not want to be inhaling this stuff. So wear a respirator when you’re cutting it.
And having a system where you can hook up the saw really helps out. One of the great
things about this is it actually has a plug port on it. So I plug the saw that I’m using,
and I put it towards the plug indicator. So then as soon as I go to use my saw….

So
it’s really convenient. As soon as I use the saw, the vacuum’s already working.
Okay, so the laminate flooring that I’m installing—not all of them require it, but—the
laminate flooring that I’m installing requires this foam mat that you put underneath of it.
It’s basically a vapor barrier. But there are some laminates that already have that
integrated onto the laminate. So just pay attention to whatever you buy that you’re
using the right underlayment for your laminate flooring. So we’re going to install the
first row here. And what I like to do, this underlayment has a sticky tab on it so that
when I put the second layer on it, it sticks to that. So I always start out with this underlayment
with the sticky side against the wall so that when I layer my next one, it just sticks right
to that.

So we’ll tuck that up against the wall. Let’s actually just cut off this plastic
strip since this is the first row. Okay, so tip #3 is to—when you’re laying
out your laminate flooring—is that it’s recommended to go perpendicular to the way
your joists run. Not all situations are going to maybe fit the style of which direction
you want to run this, but it is recommended to go perpendicular. So if your joists are
running like this in this home where they’re going from left to right here, we’re going
to run our flooring perpendicular to it. So always try to run your flooring perpendicular
to the floor joists. Okay, so tip #4 is on your first row is to
cut the tongue off of the first side. Now this is really reliant on how much space your
trim will be able to cover—your laminate flooring.

This particular flooring requires
a 5/16-inch gap between any wall or any transitions. So you want to have a perimeter gap of a minimum
of 5/16. We plan to use a shoe mold; we’re not going to take off our existing trim. So
we’re going to want this first row to be as close to the wall as possible, maintaining
that 5/16-inch gap. So cutting off this extra 1/8-inch tongue will allow more coverage for
our quarter round to cover the flooring. So tip #5 is to run a chalk line on the wall
that you’re going to be installing your first row of laminate flooring.

You want to
make sure that your wall that you’re going against isn’t bowed or bowed out and making
it tough for you to establish a nice, straight line. So my recommendation is only putting
one row of this underlayment down and then just measuring… I would probably stay away
from the corners just to randomly find a measurement. Maybe go a foot away from the edge of each
part of the room and just make a mark. I’m just going to make mine 5-foot. So this is
just primarily for reference, and I’m just going to double-check my wall with the chalk
line to make sure that I don’t have any bowing and maybe I have to kind of space it
out a little bit more to get a nice, straight line.

So 5-foot here. Five-foot there.
Okay, and then we’ll just reference this line as we’re installing the flooring and
also just double-check it just so I know what I’m working with right off the bat. So that’s
5-foot there. We got 5-foot here. Fifty-nine and ¾. Fifty-nine and 7/8. So that’s all
within a ¼-inch. So it’s just nice to know what you’re working with before you start,
so that when you shim against this existing base trim that you’re keeping everything
straight in a straight line. Okay, so you want to maintain that 5/16-inch
gap at any point. So the tricky thing we have here is that I’m only trying to use shoe
mold against here. But I also want to go further in here. So I’m going to have to measure
this. So we got like 5/8 of an inch. So I’m going to just mark my board here. So I’m
butting up against here. So I’m getting 5/16 here, and I’m butting up against there.
So we’ll mark it right at the end of my casing so that this can slide underneath of
my casing and also be 5/16 inches away from the door.

So we’re going to take 5/8 of
an inch from this part down off of here so that this can slide over. Okay, so that’s
tight here. I’ve got my 5/16. I’ve got my 5/16 here.
Now, when you’re always installing the first row, obviously the groove part needs to be
going this way. This way I can go ahead and clip my next piece into it. You always want
to start with the groove facing you, and then you’re always working left to right. You
want to have the groove on the right side so that when you clip in the new flooring,
you can clip it in this way. You always want to have your groove part facing you and then
working from left to right. So we also have a vent right here, so I’m
going to have to cut around that. So let’s mark this here. Pretty nice.
Okay, so to put your first piece in, you kind of have to do a little bit of an angle to
slip that tongue in and slide it down.

Okay, so we’ll mark to the edge of our trim
here. So from this point over, we need to rip this down to allow this to slide over.
So we’re going to take that same 5/8 of an inch from here all the way down so that
this can slide over to the door. Okay, so from here, we’ll actually go a
bit further in from where the trim is because there’s plenty of space to slide this in.
So just as long as you’re behind your casing, we just want to make sure we don’t have
any gaps around here. So we’ll mark that. We’ll be coming out… we’ll make that
like an inch and 3/8 so that you have plenty of coverage underneath of it. So we’ll cut
an inch and 3/8. We’ll just use this to tap this joint into place.
Not always a bad idea to every once in a while check and make sure your shoe mold’s going
to cover the edge of this well.

Tip #7 is to use either a framing blade or
a specific blade for laminate flooring. You don’t want to use your nice trim saw blade
for laminate flooring; it’ll just ruin it by the end of it. You don’t to spend $80
on a trim saw blade and then have not be able to be used. But if you’re using this stuff
all the time or installing laminate a lot, they make blades that are specifically for
laminate flooring. This will last a hundred times longer than a trim blade. So always
use the appropriate blade for cutting this hard stuff. That goes for jig saw as well.
Buy blades that are made for laminates. This laminate is very tough on any of those regular
carbide tips. So you want to use blades that are made for it. So we’ll change this out.
Okay, so tip #8 is when you’re installing this, you need to overlap each seam by a minimum
of 6 inches.

So you’re either 6 inches before it or 6 inches after. You can’t have joints
that are within 3 or 4 inches from another. So always install this flooring so you’ll
have an overlap of 6 inches onto the next thing. The other thing you want to avoid is
staircasing. You don’t want to start basically every 6 inches and working your way out. I
see way too many YouTube videos that have that. That is not recommended by most manufacturers.
A random pattern is what’s recommended.

You want to avoid half patterns, and you want
avoid staircasing. Staircasing is essentially just having boards that are 6 inches smaller
as you go, and you can go through the whole room. You can see step cracks all the way…
you can basically see the seams all in a diagonal pattern. That’s not recommended. The flooring
can move in irregular ways. So random pattern really literally means that. But the biggest
rule is just 6 inches away from each seam. I just cut a random piece that’s 13 inches.
After running three pieces, I usually like to run another one along with this.

It kind
of keeps everything together. So running two rows at a time makes a lot of sense to me,
and it kind of makes things a little bit easier to put together.
So, really simple to interlock these. You’re just going to lift up slightly and make sure
it’s in the groove. You could always use this block to make sure that’s tight.

So
we’re going to have to make a cut again. Okay, so tilt this edge. You want to basically
have this lip as close to this other joint as possible. And then flip it down, and then
you’ll have to snap this into place by basically hitting your block against it to snap in.
Again, making sure all your joints are even. You really just want to pay attention to make
sure that all these joints are nice and tight, especially on the first couple of rows. This
will really indicate whether you’re going straight or moving. If this were slightly
gapped here, it’s going to create a problem. You’re going to want to shim this out a
little bit more. Do whatever it takes to make sure these seams stay nice and straight.
For this area we’re going to actually just—since this is so much higher than the rest of it—we’re
probably going to end up using a T-molding that will be cut down to go against here because
this is basically an inch thick. This stuff has only 5/16, so I’m going to have trouble
finding transitions that will basically raise up ¾ of an inch.

So I’ll probably end up
using a T-molding. For right now, I’m going to keep this ¾ of an inch away from the edge
to give myself some room. You need the 5/16-inch gap between whatever transition that you plan
to insert in here. So we’ll share this a little bit later, but for right now, we’re
just going to cut around this and leave ¾ of an inch of a gap all the way around our
threshold here. So we’ll measure this. We got 19 ¾. So we’ll make that 19 inches.
So when I measure, I’m always going off the top laminate piece, not my tongue, because
the tongue goes into that groove. So measure from your laminate piece. We’ll go 19 inches.
Just check your chalk line and just make sure that we’re going to be even so that we even
spaces on the other side.

So 48 ¼ to 48 1/8. So we’re within an eighth; I’m fine with
that. So this is where this tool comes in handy
so you can slide it this way. This is where it’s important to reference
your line because now we have to go around this and make sure that that side lines up
with this. So I’m just going to make sure my first row where I’m going to have to
be looks like 54 ½. So I just want to double-check and make sure that when I run this, that will
be 54 ½ to the edge of my piece here. So which is going to be a rip down of 4 7/8.
Fifty-four and 5/8. Fifty-four and 5/8. That should be all right.
Same thing here. I want to leave this a ¾-inch gap so I can get my transition up against
here nicely.

So 6 inches. So 5 ¼ inches were going to rip this down.
Okay, so you want to butt this up to the next layer and then continue the vapor barrier.
Just take off this little sticky part of the plastic.
Okay, now we got the first couple of rows in, we could pretty much really start getting
ahead here. Now, I just wanted to reiterate what you want to try to avoid, and that is
staircasing. Staircasing would be doing something like this where you’re having smaller and
smaller pieces, and you’re basically creating a staircase, so you’re having all this diagonal
thing. What you really want to do is have one here, or I should say maybe do a smaller
one here or go with a wider one here.

But you want to avoid having this diagonal pattern
of the pieces coming together. You want it kind of immediately shrink it down and then
come with a bigger one. You want to best make sure you’re not aligning all the joints
all on the same area. You want to make them random. It’s very tempting to do a staircase
because you can get a whole bunch all done at once, but it’s really not recommended
by the manufacturers. They want you to stagger those joints.
Okay, so this is my last tip, and it’s super important. I’d never really see this on
any videos online, but the manufacturers do require this and it makes sure that it’s
a long-lasting installations and you’re not going to have any problems. And that is
to use a backer rod in the corners of all the perimeter of your floor. This is going
to maintain that space that is needed for expansion and contraction. And then if you’re
remodeling like most who are doing this type of project, you’re doing other things within
the home and you want to make sure that you keep all the perimeter joints clear of any
debris, drywall dust, anything that might get in the way of allowing this floor to expand.
So using a backer rod will ensure that.

This is a 3/8. It comes in a really large box;
350 ft of it. So typically this is great for larger rooms. You can get smaller quantities
of this stuff. But again, really important to put this in your corners and keep that
space maintained. So it’s simply… just use this… you just
slide it into that perimeter gap that you made. You might need to use a screwdriver
or something to press it in. But this is just going to maintain that gap and allow this
floor to freely float, expand and contract, and move around.
Okay, so with this flooring we’re going to do a transition between our ceramic tile
and our floating laminate floor. Unfortunately, in this specific type of brand of laminate
flooring, they only had T-molding.

This was the only kind of transition that they had.
They’re kind of limited with transitions into different types of flooring. But this
is primarily made to sit flat and basically transition between one laminate flooring and
the other. But in this case, we’re going to make this transition kind of ramp up to
our ceramic tile. So what we’re going to do is I cut some smaller pieces of plywood
here, and this is going to allow me to just nail through here and then grab this smaller
piece of plywood. So I actually have a stapler gun. This will help hold these smaller pieces
in much tighter than just regular trim nails. So you always want to still maintain that
5/16-inch spacing here. So just make sure that you have this spacing so this can move
back and forth. This will turn to a clear, but I want to use
this silicone to adhere the transition on top of the strip.

And I’ll just use a matching
wood putty to fill in for my staples. So if these tips helped you out, please give
us a thumbs up. Really helps us out for other viewers to find our videos. And if you have
any questions, by all means please leave us a comment below. We’re here to help you
out, and we’ll see you in the next video. Thanks!.

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