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Tips for a Successful DIY Laminate Flooring Install

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Default Author Icon Written by Angela Bunt Updated 03/19/2024

When renovating their floors, more and more homeowners are starting to choose laminate floors over materials like tile or hardwood. Laminate flooring is durable, scratch-resistant, and available in a variety of colors and designs. It’s also easy to install on your own, which can help you save money versus hiring contractors.

If you prefer to lay your flooring yourself, keep reading to discover our secrets for a successful DIY laminate flooring install. Learn the materials and equipment required, and see our step-by-step guide for installation.

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Watch this video from Home Depot to learn how to install laminate flooring to refresh your kitchen or bathroom—you only need a few basic tools to complete this basic DIY project.


Gather Your Materials and Equipment

Before starting your laminate floor installation, you must gather your materials and equipment. To ensure that your floors are secure and will last long-term, you must use the proper procedures and the right tools. You can purchase or rent the equipment needed for this project from your local hardware store.

Here are some of the tools and equipment you’ll need to install your new laminate flooring:

  • Flooring installation kit (including spacers and a tapping block)
  • Laminate cutter
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Jamb saw
  • Circular saw or table saw
  • Utility knife
  • Level
  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Clamps
  • Pencil
  • Underlayment
  • Vapor barrier
  • Nail gun
  • Duct tape
  • Caulk
  • Finishing nails

In addition to the supplies listed above, you’ll have to select and order your flooring products. Many flooring manufacturers have design specialists who can walk you through selecting the best flooring for your needs and ordering the right amount for your space.

During the installation process, make sure your wear safety equipment like goggles, gloves, and knee pads to protect yourself.


How to Measure and Cut Laminate Flooring Planks

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To achieve the best results with your laminate flooring installation, you must precisely measure the area you’re working on. Take down measurements of the width of the room or the wall that is perpendicular to how you’d like to align your planks.

To find out how many rows of planks you’ll need, divide the width of the room by the width of a single board. This may not be an exact number, so you will most likely have to cut the planks to fit the last row. Make sure to leave room for the flooring to expand—about 3/4 inch is a good amount for most spaces. Subtract this from your total measurement before making your calculations.

Cutting laminate flooring is pretty easy, as it’s made of a thin, fiberboard core. There may be instructions on how to cut your materials included in your flooring kit. If not, it’s common to use a table saw, circular saw, or a handsaw. A fine-tooth blade can help reduce splintering. You can also place duct tape on top of the cutting surface to protect the planks and prevent splintering. Cut with the finished side up.

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Steps to follow
When you are ready to install new flooring, make sure you’re familiar with the steps to lay it correctly the first time. While both beginner and intermediate DIY-ers can complete this project successfully, laminate flooring installation requires accurate measurements and proper technique. Follow these steps to install new laminate floors in your home:

Before installing your new floor, let your laminate planks acclimate to the room’s temperature and humidity. Lay out the pieces of laminate in the room in which you’ll be installing them, and let them sit for at least 48 hours.

Next, you’ll need to prepare the subfloor. You’ll know it’s safe to install flooring when the subfloor is clean and smooth. You can often install laminate over old floor coverings like sheet vinyl as long as it’s flat, smooth, and not too soft. Most of the time, however, you’ll want to remove the existing flooring, as well as any baseboards and trim.

Sweep or vacuum away any debris, then check that the base floor is level. For concrete basement flooring, fix any chips in the flooring with a patching compound. For wood subfloors, make sure to remove loose nails, patch cracks, and sand uneven areas. If any planks are damaged, you may want to replace them before covering them.

When laying flooring around doors, it’s often easier to cut the doorway trim than to cut your flooring materials to fit an irregular shape. Trimming some wood off the bottom of your trim allows your flooring to fit underneath for a seamless result.

First, place a piece of laminate over your underlayment and line it up against the door frame. Use a pencil to mark where the top of the laminate meets the frame. This tells you where to cut. Then, use a jamb saw to remove the small piece of wood. Now you should be able to smoothly slide your flooring into the small gap.

Before placing your laminate planks, you must install the underlayment—which is usually a thin, dense foam designed to absorb sound and keep your floors warmer. It can also act as a bridge over any gaps or dents in the subfloor layer underneath. Some laminate floors come with a built-in underlayment, in which case you can skip this step.

If your flooring does not come with its own underlayment, start by rolling out two rows of underlayment. Trim the pieces with a utility knife to fit the width of the room. Use tape or underlayment adhesive to stick adjacent pieces together.

As you’re placing the sheets of underlayment next to each other, make sure they don’t overlap. If two sheets overlap, the extra thickness could create bumps or uneven sections in your floors.

If you’re installing laminate in high-moisture rooms like a basement or kitchen, it’s best to install a vapor barrier before placing your underlayment.

Now, you must decide where you’ll begin the installation. It’s a good rule of thumb to start applying flooring against the longest wall. However, if there is a big focal point in the room, such as a fireplace or large windows, you may want to start applying your flooring parallel to that wall.

Start your first row by placing the planks with the tongue side against the wall. You can also trim the tongue off the boards in the first row with a utility knife. However, because the baseboard will cover a bit of your first and last row, trimming off the tongue is not necessary.

Next, place the groove of the following piece into place, then press down to snap it securely. Use 3/8 inch spacers along the wall to leave room for the flooring to expand and contract over time.

Continue placing planks until you reach the last one in the row. You may have to cut the final piece to fit the space perfectly. Again, be sure to leave an expansion gap.

To start the second and subsequent rows, place a plank that is either longer or shorter than the first plank in the first row. (Use the portion that you just cut from the last piece in the first row.) Staggering the seams in each row helps create a more secure installation and attractive look. Try to stagger at least a foot from the adjacent seam.

When installing the subsequent rows, you may have to wiggle the planks to fit them into the groove and snap into place. Many manufacturers suggest using a tapping block or a pull bar to secure the planks. These tools help to ensure that they are tightly secured with no gaps in between.

To install the last row, you may need to cut a bit of width off of your planks. When installing the last row, it helps to place your planks at an angle to fit them into the tight space.

When you’re done installing your floors, remove the spacers from against the walls. Install door thresholds and baseboards around your room. Make sure to caulk the edges of the baseboard to achieve a smooth, finished look.

Installing laminate flooring is very similar to installing luxury vinyl planks (LVP) or any other tongue-and-groove flooring. To get a better feel for the installation process, check out the video below, where carpenter Nathan Gilbert helps a homeowner install vinyl planks in their kitchen:

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DIY Installation vs. Professional Installation

There are many pros and cons to both do-it-yourself flooring installation and hiring a professional. Your decision should be based on your budget and your comfort with standard power tools. Laminate flooring installation has an intermediate level of difficulty, but it can be easy for most homeowners to take on. Installing your own flooring will save you money by eliminating labor costs.

Installing laminate flooring on your own will take a few hours, and it requires the right type of equipment to ensure a solid and secure installation. It’s a dry installation, which means you do not have to use grout or mortar to install flooring.

Professional floor installers typically charge $2–$8* per square foot to put down laminate flooring and any necessary underlayment. However, if you have not completed a home renovation project before, or if you do not already have most of the necessary equipment, the extra cost may be worth it. A professional will have all the materials and tools needed to complete the job safely and efficiently.

*Labor costs sources from contractor estimates used by Angi.


If you decide to go with professional installation, we recommend LL Flooring for its wide variety of designs and materials. With over three decades of experience, this company is a trusted provider of high-quality flooring. And, because its team works with manufacturers all over the country, LL Flooring can guarantee the best pricing to its customers.

To learn more about LL Flooring and to get a quote for your project, schedule an appointment online. You’ll speak with a specialist from one of the company’s hundreds of locations around the country.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.

FAQ About Installing Laminate Flooring

Where should I install laminate flooring?

You should install laminate flooring in indoor areas with moderate traffic and low humidity, such as living rooms, bedrooms, and offices. Laminate is less suitable for high-traffic areas and those where moisture is a concern, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.

What are some common mistakes when laying laminate flooring?

Some common mistakes when laying laminate flooring include:

  • Forgetting the underlayment
  • Skipping the acclimation step
  • Not leaving room for expansion
  • Installing on uneven subfloors
  • Measuring or cutting incorrectly
  • Installing in moisture-prone areas

What type of underlayment should you use for laminate flooring?

The best type of underlayment for laminate flooring depends on the subfloor and your preferences. Two popular options are polyethylene (PE) foam with a vapor barrier and cork. Some laminate planks come with an underlayment already bonded to the bottom.

How do I install laminate flooring on stairs?

As a general rule, it’s best not to install laminate flooring on stairs. Not all laminate flooring is suitable for stairs, and the process is more complex than a standard installation. If you do decide to install laminate flooring on stairs, make sure the flooring is specifically designed for stairs and consider hiring a professional.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.