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How Do You Install Laminate Floors? Is it a DIY Project?


Experienced DIYers can tackle the installation of laminate floors, but the job is best left to the pros if you’re not particularly handy. The process is more detailed than you might think, and bungling any one step can lead to major problems later on.

Before you start, read the manufacturer’s installation guide - in its entirety. This is crucial because every manufacturer has slightly different instructions and recommendations. Generally, you’ll need a clean, flat and dry subfloor to start. And most manufacturers recommend allowing the laminate to acclimate to your home’s temperature and humidity for 48 hours before installation.

First remove the base molding, install the vapor barrier and trim the door jambs. To lay the flooring, place the laminate pieces parallel with your longest wall. Be sure to insert a 1/2-inch spacers along the walls to allow the floor to expand and contract once its installed. The base molding will eventually cover up any remaining gaps, but skipping this step can lead to serious warping.

Next, snap each plank together, making sure the pieces fit tightly. When installing the last row, keep in mind that you may have to trim the board to get it to fit. Finally, remove the spacers and reinstall the base molding (or install new base molding, if you choose). Make sure the molding is attached to the wall, not your new floor.

Installing your own laminate floors can be a rewarding and money-saving project, but, again, keep in mind that it requires some DIY experience. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s best to call in a professional to avoid problems such as warping, buckling or gapping. These are tough - sometimes impossible - to fix.

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