Installing Hardwood Laminate Floor: How to install a Laminate Hardwood Floor

Michelle Tether
Written by Michelle Tether

I know I’ve been talking about it for a while, but I’ve finally gotten around to installing the Laminate Hardwood Flooring in my office. It was just as easy as I expected but took a little more preparation than I had planned for and there were some additional expenses but overall the cost for laminate is so cheap it’s negligible. It looks quite stunning, the featured image really does it justice, I am sure you’ll agree.

For this project I enlisted the help of my friend Terry and my brother Steve. Earlier this year we (and when I say we, I pretty much mean they) glued down hardwood bamboo floors in their condo. I didn’t want to go the glue down route because it just seems so permanent and, quite frankly, a much bigger hassle than the free floating, snap together floors. I also quickly realised that if I ever decided to use this in another room, or wanted to change and or install new decor and salvage these materials then it would be a very easy job and I might need to just buy a little more to top up.

The longest part of the entire process was waiting for the order to come in. If you plan on picking up some flooring and getting the project done that day or that week you might want to double check with the retailer. I had to wait about three weeks for the material to arrive and at that point it’s considered a special order so returning extra wood came with a restocking fee. I also really liked the hardwood laminate flooring I picked. I really didn’t fancy any of this readily available “off the shelf look” – perhaps I only looked in the wrong places. Feel free to pop me an email if you know where to buy quality laminate hardwood flooring quickly. I say that kind of tongue in cheek. We all know solid wood would be far more appealing, and long lasting. I don’t want to remortgage though and I am sure neither do you! Here’s an example of what was available in the shops.

Off the shelf laminate hardwood flooring

Off the shelf laminate hardwood flooring

It just feels a little tacky don’t you think? I mean it’s kind of old style, but not in a nice way, not authentic. Please feel free to give opinions on this.

Anyway back to the story – luckily, I had measured well and, even though I had almost a box extra, I didn’t have a complete spare box so I had nothing to return. The rule of thumb is measure your floor space and convert to square footage and then add 10%, it’s a pretty good calculation, some suggest 15%, it doesn’t matter if you buy locally it’s easy to return, and most will. In my case I had special order and therefore returning a box not economically viable.

Additional materials to lay hardwood laminate flooring

With free floating flooring you need some additional supplies. There is an underlayment you must purchase. I was told it was 100 square feet a roll, my office is just over 120 square feet and it took almost 2 entire rolls. So you might want to buy more and return this if you don’t use it all.

B & Q keeps this in stock so there is no extra fee for returns. There are different types of underlayment and you can choose the level of “protection” you want. I went pretty cheap but I regretted it, definitely buy full protection. In one area I have a slight noise when I walk. I am convinced had I bought the thicker lining this would cease.

Then you need some spacers to make sure the floor is about a quarter inch from the walls. There is a spacer kit that I recommend buying, it comes with a pull bar tool which is very useful and a sort of pad thing that you can use if you’re going to try and hammer (I used a rubber mallet to further prevent breakage) the pieces into place. But there are not even close to enough spacers in this kit so pick up some extras. When you’re all done you can remove them so if you have a friend who just put in their own hardwood floors you could borrow theirs, it’s not very useful for anything other than the flooring. Here’s a picture from B & Q.

B and Q spacer kit.

B and Q spacer kit.

The first step, after the carpet is gone and you’ve removed the baseboards, is to lay a strip of underlay. Just do one strip at a time, don’t try to do the whole room because it moves and can be slippery and overall it’s annoying and a waste of time. I learnt this so you don’t have too! Then, you want to run your wood in the same direction that traffic moves. But that’s just a general rule of thumb. You can decide which way you want to go. Some people also suggest to go the narrowest way because it produces a better finish. From my experience of cheaper laminate, this is true. The better stuff though, I think it doesn’t make all that much difference. I still went the shorter direction to be sure.

Before you lay your first piece of wood, you need to cut off the snap-together part along the long and short edges. The pieces that go against the walls should be smooth and not have the connections. You’ll need a table saw for the long ones and you’ll need it when you finish. The rest of the pieces will need to be cut with a chop (miter) saw. I rented a large one because the one we had wouldn’t accommodate the width of the boards.

The first piece went into a corner. We decided not to start with a whole board but instead cut it. Then we began snapping them together, sort of like legos. You snap the short sides together on the first row and when you come to your last piece, measure and cut on the chop saw and then snap into place. Remember to use your spacers and keep a clear quarter inch around every wall. It’s really that easy.
The next row gets a little trickier because you have to snap the wood together on the short ends first and then the long sides get snapped to the previous row. And this is why two people is optimum. While you’re snapping one end together the others tend to come a little loose, so having someone hold while someone snaps and taps works pretty well. Then the rows sort of lay into place.

The final row is a bit tricky because the width of the board is probably not equal to the remaining space you have. So you’ll need to measure it (remember that open quarter inch) and then use a table saw again to rip down the middle of these boards. Installing this last row isn’t as difficult as it seems if you use the metal pry bar that comes in the kit I mentioned before.

Now, my office has a closet, so some tricky cuts were necessary and Terry used a jigsaw for them. You may need to do this too, depending upon your room shape and the doorways.

A point to mention here, I have some items to return to the hardware store. I was told that I’d need some special saw blades so I bought ones for the table saw, the chop saw and the jigsaw and never needed any of them. Luckily, the rented chop saw came with the right blade so there wasn’t a problem there and the other blades from the borrowed tools worked just fine. I did consider this effect as well. What’s your opinion did I make the right choice – please leave comments below:

light laminate hardwood flooring

Light laminate hardwood flooring

I love my floor and think it looks great, I am not sure if it’s just me or the indents look so much more authentic,and they also cover up any slight imperfections so much better as well. The joints on my floor in my opinion look natural. Any joint on the laminate above, kind of looks a little out of place.  There is still a lot of work to be done in the room, but to put it in perspective, the painting will take longer than the floors did especially now we’ve done the job in the wrong order! If you get the choice, please paint first! Terry and I have only done this twice now, so basically anyone can install a Laminate Hardwood floor but we still need to work on job order.

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About the author

Michelle Tether

Michelle Tether

I love everything home. I write as a passion for non profit about the things I love.