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Most laminate and real wood floors are laid by dry-clipping boards together. Clipping mechanisms vary, but the principles are the same. Whether you need a vapor barrier or underlay will depend on the type of floor. If in doubt, install one. Where possible, lay flooring before installing baseboards or door casings so that they can cover the expansion gap. Wooden flooring needs to acclimatize for two or three days before being laid. Open packs and lay out the boards. Some flooring will need to be oiled after installation.
Roll out the foam across the floor’s surface. Tape the seams together between the sheets of underlayment (Image 1).
Trim the foam to size, ensuring that it fits precisely at the junctions between the walls and the floor. Use a utility knife to cut it (Image 2).
Position the first board in a corner of the room. However, if your room has a cased doorway, you may choose to start at the door. The information box opposite shows the different solutions to installing the first board at a cased doorway or the last board at the doorway. The steps shown here result in the last board being installed in the doorway (Image 1).
Make sure the grooved side of the boards is against the wall. Insert plastic wedges between the board and the wall (Image 2).
To place the next board, engage it with the end of the first board by holding it at roughly 45 degrees to the first board (Image 3).
Press down on the second board, and lock it into place. Continue joining boards in this way to make the first row (Image 4).
Insert wedges at regular intervals. As you near the end of the row, you will probably need to cut a board to finish: see next step (Image 5).
Use the offcut piece from the end of the first row to start the second. Engage it at a 45-degree angle to the edges of the first-row boards (Image 1).
Tap the board with a knocking block to tighten. Place another board beside it. Leave a slight gap so you can clip it to the first row, then knock fully into place. Repeat along row (Image 2).
You may need a pry bar to tighten the joint for the last board in any row. Hook the pry bar over the end of the board, and tap its other end with a hammer (Image 3).
Check that boards are “square” across the room. If not, adjust them by cutting the first row to fit against the wall, as below for a doorway. Continue across the floor (Image 4).
Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement
© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009