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Best Laminate Floor Installation Tips:

Instructions Pergo, Armstrong, and Bruce Instructions Omit

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A laminate to tile floor transition

This article was updated on 8/15/18

Here are some tips for installing laminate flooring that the manufacturers don’t mention: how to select the best laminate underlayment and use quarter round.

One of the wonderful things about laminate flooring is that unlike traditional hardwood floors, it’s simple to install. Traditional hardwood floor installation requires dealing with slightly warped lumber, nailing, gluing, sanding, and floor finishing.

Laminate floors go down quick and are prefinished. And, laminate floor maintenance is simple. However, like any other DIY project, there are a few things the manufacturer’s instructions simply don’t tell you. This article will arm the reader with various laminate floor installation tips.

Use the Best Laminate Flooring Underlayment

Flooring distributors will generally present the buyer with at least two grades of laminate underlayment; standard and premium underlayment.

QuietWalk laminate underlayment

What’s the difference? Just thickness. Both grades are made of a felt-like material with a moisture barrier.

Go ahead and spend the extra cash to get the premium grade underlayment.

The purpose of laminate flooring underlayment is two-fold. First it provides a bit of “give” between the foot or furniture and the subfloor. This not only protects the laminate but makes up for the inevitable low and high spots on the subfloor.

Another purpose of underlayment is sound control. This seems illogical since it’s underneath the slick surface of the laminate planks, but it does work because it’s between the subfloor and the planks. Be sure to use wide clear plastic tape to connect runs of underlayment.

Doorways and Laminate Floor Installation

When it comes to floating laminate floor installation, most of the “fun” occurs at the doorways. First, pull the hinge pins and remove the doors. They’re probably hollow core doors, and so weigh almost nothing. If left hung, they’ll just get in the way, but just leave them on if you choose to.

Next, carefully remove the door trim (again, if you want to) and set it aside to reinstall later.

A typical coping saw

Undercut the door jambs. For a professional looking finish, the laminate planks have to slide under the door trim. Draw a horizontal pencil line the thickness of the laminate and the underlayment and use a coping saw or a Japanese-style flush-cut push-pull saw to undercut it.

Installing straight runs of laminate in the middle of the room is straightforward enough, but things get tricky at the doorways. There will be times when it’s absolutely impossible to both snap the laminate flooring planks together and simultaneously get the laminate under the door jamb.

When this happens, use a sharp utility knife to shave off the locking part of the laminate edges while leaving the flat part of the connector intact. This will allow sliding the two planks together to mate.

Be sure to add a small bead of wood glue to ensure that the planks will remained mated. Titebond woodworking glue is the best choice. Don’t use Gorilla Grip glue; it’ll foam out of the joint as it dries.

Baseboard and Quarter Round

Laminate flooring is a “floating” flooring system. It won’t move around a lot, but it’s only connected to itself. At no time will it be attached to the subfloor or wall. This allows for expansion and contraction.

This is why there should be a 1/4 inch gap (or whatever your manufacturer recommends) around the entire perimeter of the floor. This gap also allows the installer to use the laminate flooring pull bar to snug things up.

Baseboard with quarter round trim

After cutting and installing baseboard, there might still be a bit of a gap visible at the floor edge.

The solution? Nail quarter round to the bottom of the baseboard (not the laminate). Not only does it cover the gap but it gives the baseboard an elegant three dimensional look.

Laminate Floor Brands

Wondering which brand to use? The best laminate floor manufacturers are Armstrong, Bruce, Pergo, Dupont, and Alloc. Shop around; something’s always on sale! But shop wisely when it comes time to buy and install laminate flooring. The earlier material did not do well in moist environments, like bathrooms, but newer versions are much more water tolerant.

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