Laminate Flooring; The real truth

10 Replies

Hey BP nation hope everyone is having a good night, I have a question for all you rehabbing gurus! What's the real truth behind the DIY project of laying a laminate floor? I've been told it's so easy, a weekend fixer upper project, yet my husband and I have  are complete novices and are getting some very mixed responses about what this really requires. Removing baseboards, and the use of a miter saw was not on the original plan though now it seems it should've been. We're in Charlotte NC so if anyone wants to recommend someone reasonably priced we would love to get a quote. 

Thanks guys!

Hi Jasmine,

I don't want to think about how much laminate I have put down in my lifetime...far too much I'm sure. It's not for everyone. The majority of this job is simple it's the cutting and initial set up that counts.

To do an exceptional job requires leaving the required room around the parameter for expansion and contraction and this means leaving room around door openings and yes either pulling up the existing baseboard or putting down quarter round when your done. To get the room in the door openings you should undercut the door jambs and plan the way you lay the flooring to enable the flooring to be just under the jamb.

Really not for everyone. One way to save a lot of cutting is buying a laminate sheer. It's now my favourite tool. No dust, very little waist and no need to run outside everytime you have to make a cut.

Good luck with your project.

I just helped my dad install laminate floors at my parent's house and it was the first time either of us have done it. It was relatively easy. but we are both pretty handy. The part that takes then longest is measuring and cutting the boards with a saw to fit certain areas. Once we removed the baseboards, laid down the moisture barrier, and finished laying down the first few rows of laminate it was smooth sailing. I saw go for it!

Like @Dave Vogt  mentioned, you don't have to remove the baseboard to install laminate flooring.  The gap between the baseboard and your new flooring can be covered w some quarter round.  This will save tons of time.  

For a square or rectangular room, it should be very easy.  Make sure to lay the moisture barrier and padding as well.  Some laminate have the padding stuck to the boards already.

Costco has decent laminate on sale on occasion.

Best of luck!

While I do own a miter saw, I prefer to use a cordless jig saw to make my cuts. Laminate seems to wear a miter blade out pretty quick!

This is probably a good DIY project but I will add some tips I have learned from a couple of home laminate projects.

1) Do not take cheap shortcuts. One time I butted the "groove" part of a board to a board I had cut that had no "tongue" because I did not want to waste a board so of course the pieces looked great initially when installed but later the one board would move when walked upon and create a gap.

2) remove all baseboards and re-install them afterwards. This is very easy to do if you have a brad nailer with 2" brads. As a novice, it could look like crap if you use hammer and nails manually.

3) Leave enough gap around the perimeter to allow for expansion as prescribed in the instructions. I have had trouble before and had to uninstall/reinstall a portion of the floor because one edge was abutting directly against a tile floor without the gap.

4) use a sharp flat hand saw to cut the door jambs and door stop. Use a piece of laminate scrap to determine what level to cut at. Lay your hand saw flat on the scrap spacer to cut at the right height.

5) Do not ever bang on the edge of laminate in order to slide the tongue into the groove. The boards are designed to click together. Depending on the manufacturer, this could be easy or more difficult. If you are banging excessively, you are not doing it correctly and you will damage the edge, making it that much more difficult to attach the next one. I have found that I can use my hands and tap boards together to get them to snap in place. Anytime you use a hammer or mallet, you are playing with fire.

6) A laminate puller tool is useful to snap boards together when you are working tight to the wall. Be gentle, do not bang too hard on the puller tool.

7) An underlayment with foam or recycled fiber works well to dull the sound from laminate clapping against the subfloor. It makes the floor sound less cheap.

8) Don't leave too large of a gap at walls. IF you leave too much gap, the baseboard may not cover it and you will need to add quarter round all over the room. Take note of the width of your baseboards and how much gap room you have at the base of your wall. Sometimes, the drywall ends high enough that you have more gap room before the base plate.

A large recreation room, hall, and closets took my dad and I about one long day to install before baseboards.

I want to add that you should also have a table saw and chop saw and not try to cut by hand; or else it will take you a lot more time.

If you don't have all the power tools you could rent them, but often a better way is to buy them new at Home Depot, keep the box, and then resell them for a slight discount on Ebay or Craig's List.  When people see a brand new box in the photo they know they are getting slightly used tool and will pay good money for it.

By doing this there are not late fees if you project takes an extra day and you don't get junk tools from a rental place.

Laminate flooring isn't the most difficult DIY project by a long shot, but if you're apprehensive about removing baseboards, using a power saw, etc., this may not be the best project to start with. If you do a crappy job, you might as well have not done it - it looks bad, cheap & messy & will not be an improvement. Maybe find someone more experienced who will let you "help" on a project & ask a lot of questions while they work.

It's fairly easy if you have some handyman skills. Looks great and inexpensive.

@Jasmine S.  everyone gave you great advice so I will only add that the big box stores sell a special  saw ( small, portable, like a table saw ) made specifically for installing laminate flooring. It is a great investment that will speed up the job and help you make clean cuts...

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