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How to Prepare for a Laminate Floor Installation

Hosts Jay Baker and Scott Branscom give tips and steps on how to prepare a floor for laminate flooring.

More in Floors

preparing floor for laminate flooring Watch Video

Step 1: Use the Pull Bar to Place the Flooring

Laminate flooring is just like hardward flooring, it has a tongue and groove system. Slide the tongue into the groove and it snaps right into place. There are a couple of applications where the wood will not rotate right into place. There isn't any leverage against a wall or doorjamb. A special tool called a pull bar helps with that. It has a little lip that goes down into the edge of the carpet against the wall with a place to hammer on the other end of the tool. Continue hammering until it clicks together.

pull bar used for leverage against a wall

Step 2: Use a Block to Tap the Flooring

Never hit the side of the laminate flooring with a hammer (even a rubber hammer) because it might damage either the tongue or groove. There is a block available for that purpose. Put it down against the side of the laminate and give it a tap. This way, you do not have to worry about damaging the block. Just keep tapping it until it fits together.

There is a product called under floor membrane. It goes under the laminate flooring and it takes out any of the unevenness of the floor and it absorbs sound.

use block to tap flooring

Step 3: Leave a Space Around the Room

Laminate flooring is mostly wood. Leave a space all the way around the room. This allows it to expand and contract. Baseboard and quarter round come with the kit that will cover up that space. Spacers come with the flooring. Use them by themselves or in conjunction with one another because there are ridges to hold them together.

use spacers around the room for expanding

Step 4: Draw Out a Floor Plan

Make sure there's plenty of material for this project. Measure the room and draw a floor plan layout to help determine how much quarter round, baseboard and transition material is needed. Compensate for mistakes in advance and purchase extra flooring in case of mistakes. Also, make sure the supplier has excess to plenty in case of even more mistakes. Those measurements will also apply to the underlayment. There are different types of underlayment for different floors (cement, wood and vinyl) -- so purchase the right type for the floor.

Step 5: Remove the Old Flooring

Get rid of the old flooring. Remove the baseboard and quarter round. Be careful when removing it so you won't have to do a lot of wall repairs later.

remove baseboard and quarter round

Step 6: Remove the Tack Strips

Pry up the carpet from the tack strips. Be careful working around the strips because they are very sharp. Gently remove the strips because you do not want to damage the sub-floor too much. Serious damage means replacing parts of it or filling deep gouges with floor leveling compound.

pry up carpet from tack strips

Step 7: Inspect the Wooden Floor

Inspect the wooden floor. It has to be stable. Nail down any loose parts and screw any loose boards to the floor joists to prevent the floor squeaking.

Step 8: Clean the Floor

Thoroughly vacuum and sweep the floor.

Step 9: Avoid Water

Do not use any water on the sub-floor.

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