Preparation and Tools Required
When making your laminate purchase, order 10% more than your measurements to account for waste and acclimatize the laminate in the room up to 48 hours prior to installation. Set the room temperature above 65F or 18C, and if it's too hot and humid use an air conditioner to keep room conditions as close to normal as possible.
You'll need a hand-saw, jig-saw, skill saw, t-bar, measuring tape, tapping block, end pry bar, pencil, carpet-knife, hammer, spacers, a workbench and broom to do the job. Determine the direction you'll lay the laminate and choose a starting wall. (Your starting wall must be straight-if it's not you'll need to scribe the laminate for the first row. When you measure the room, your last row should be a minimum of 2" wide-if it's not, you might want to trim the width of the first row to allow for this. )
Make sure you have a dry, flat, smooth surface on which to lay the laminate. Remove doors and baseboards and sweep the floor clean. Sink any protruding nails if installing over a sub-floor. Undercut the doorways so the laminate will slide smoothly under door frame, and put down the underlayment. A two-in-one sound/vapour barrier is sufficient for most jobs.
Fitting the First Few Rows
Dry-fit the first row with the tongue side of the plank length facing the wall. Use spacers between the wall and the planks on all walls to ensure you have enough room for the expansion gap. (The expansion gap can be anywhere from 1/4" to 1/2" and allows for the natural expansion and contraction of the floating floor as temperature and humidity conditions change. If you don't leave a gap the planks may buckle at the joints. )
Measure and mark the planks for any floor vents, and mark the last plank for the row. Be sure to account for the expansion gap when you cut the last plank of the row to fit. Plan to use the leftover plank from the end-piece to start the next row. (Make sure the joints from one row to the next are roughly 8" apart and trim the starting piece of the next row to allow for this. )
Once the planks for any floor vents and for the end-piece are cut, click the first row into place using the spacers to maintain the expansion gap. Place the floor-vent into the hole you've cut to make sure it fits. Begin fitting the second row, starting with the leftover plank from the end-piece of the previous row. Again, measure the last plank and cut it to fit.
Today most laminates require angle-fitting end-to-end and row-to-row. It's easiest to fit the row together end-to-end, and then with another helper, angle-fit the entire row into the previous one. Once the first three rows are down the installation should go smoothly.
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