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How to Install a Laminate Floating Floor (page 1 of 3)

Installing laminate flooring is a snap — literally. A laminate floor is a "floating floor," meaning it is not fastened directly to the subfloor. It can be installed over any other tightly bonded flooring, making it ideal for retrofits.

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Flooring manufacturers continually refine the technology of snap-together laminate flooring, making it a good choice for DIYers.

Determine How Much Flooring to Buy

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The first thing you’ve got to do is find out the total area of the room you’re covering so that you know how much product to buy.

Measure the length and width of the room. Multiply those figures and then add 10 percent for wastage.

Most laminate flooring is made from wood fibers and pulp bonded to a plastic surface. There’s a slew of style choices — from rustic-looking hardwoods to exotic finishes or classical decor. You’ll also have to decide on texture, color and plank size.

Some other things you may want to consider in the selection process: the type of room, the type of subfloor, traffic level, sound insulation and your home decor.

Install methods vary by product. For this project, we’re covering a vinyl floor using laminate flooring with an oak finish. This flooring is a no-glue system that installs with the standard locking tongue-and-groove process.

Prepare the Room

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Before you start the project, you'll need to get the room prepared. First, out with the old. Remove moldings, wall base and shoe trim. This may be a good time to update molding with something that complements your new floor.

The new flooring may add height to the floor. In that case, you'll need to undercut casings and jambs where necessary.

To do this, first set a scrap piece of laminate flooring on some foam underlayment. Place this on the floor next to the casing or jamb, then draw a line. This will mark the height you need to cut so the new flooring will fit under the jamb or casing.

Place a handsaw or undercut saw on top of the laminate flooring. With the blade flat, make the undercut. When you’re done, thoroughly vacuum all sawdust and remove all debris.

Install the Underlayment

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With a clean space, the next step is to install the underlayment. Underlayment is a thin foam padding and it's needed for any installation of laminate flooring. This layer will also help correct some of the minor imperfections in the subfloor.

Starting in one corner, unroll a layer of the underlayment in the same direction as the new floor. You want to butt the edges — don't overlap.

The underlayment cuts easily with a utility knife so you can fit it around obstacles like door jambs and structural bases.

Cutting material

Tape Down the Underlayment

Tape the seams with polyethylene tape, like duct tape, to create a moisture barrier. This is an especially important step if you are installing the flooring over concrete.

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