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The step-by-step guide to installing laminate flooring

Although a relatively new addition to the world of home improvement, laminate flooring is hugely popular in the UK these days. Inexpensive, versatile and easy to maintain, it meets the needs of so many homeowners.

As flooring types go, it is also easy to install, but that's not to say you should go into the process without being properly prepared - get it wrong and you'll end up either wasting materials or being forced to live with something you're not happy with.

The following step-by-step guide has been put together to help you avoid such situations. Follow it closely and you should be left completely pleased with your investment.

First things first, the following tools may come in handy:

- Circular Saw

- Jigsaw

- Mitre Saw

- Set Square

- Stanley Knife

- Hammer

- Laminate Spacers

- Tenon Saw

- Tapping Block

- Pull Bar

- Masking Tape

- Knee Pads

- Tape Measure

- Spirit Level

Step one: Measure up

Laminate flooring can be installed pretty much anywhere in the home - it's suitable for use in kitchens, bedrooms, living areas & some laminates can even be used in bathrooms. That said, it's crucial that, before anything else, you take all of the measurements you need to ensure a perfect fit. Take your time and go through the room(s) two or three times to minimise the risk of error. The old adage of 'measure twice, cut once' really does bear fruit here.

Whatever measurements you finish up with, add five to ten per cent for wastage & board variation before actually getting your hands on the materials - you'll be grateful for the leeway later on.

You'll need to let your flooring acclimatise to the temperature of the room in which they are to be installed. Place the unopened packages in the appropriate room for at least 48 hours before you plan to begin.

Step two: Fit the underlay

After cleaning your sub-floor, and ensuring its dry & level, you'll need to cover it with underlay. This is an essential step and will make sure the room remains warm and your flooring is protected from moisture, it can also take away minor undulations in your sub-floor but perhaps most importantly of all, a good quality underlay will greatly reduce “tip-tap” noise all laminate flooring produce whilst walking over them.  We can specify which type of underlay is best for your installation; just speak to one of our Flooring Gurus on the phone or via our Live Chat service on the web site for advice.

Lay your chosen material over the floor and cut it to size, fitting any separated parts together with masking tape as you go. Make sure the layers don't overlap at all. You could also lay a secondary moisture barrier below the underlay for ultimate protection.

Step three: Fit the first row

To ensure the best appearance, you'll want to lay your planks parallel to the longest wall - the first with its groove side facing the wall itself. Place a few half-inch spacers against the wall (around 12 inches apart) and push the first board up against it. Once laid, the floor will react to fluctuations in temperature, so these spacers will give it just enough room to "breathe" without warping or buckling. Scotia or beading will ensure the gap can't be seen once the process is complete. Continue working down the wall until the first row is in place.

Step four: Install the flooring

Continue laying your planks, row by row, matching the tongue side of each to the groove of the next. You'll need to tap each into place using a tapping block as you go, but be gentle! Make sure the boards fit comfortably together, with no gaps showing.

It's a good idea to shorten the first plank of each row to stagger its positioning - offset the rows by six or eight inches so the joints aren't lined up too evenly. Forget this part and the floor's strength may be compromised. It's also the best way to avoid ending up with unnatural-looking flooring.

Step five: Fit the last row

By this point, your floor should be looking as though it's almost complete, but there's still some work to do. The last planks you lay will need to be trimmed before they fit properly, so measure the spaces a couple of times before marking the boards clearly with a pencil and cutting with a mitre saw. Then, slot them into place to cover the remaining gaps.

Step six: Add the final touches

Now is the time to tie up the loose ends. Firstly, install thresholds between the end of the flooring and any open door spaces. These thresholds are available in different styles to match the type and height of the flooring the laminate will be put up against. Then, install scotia or beading around the edges of the room to cover the expansion gaps against the wall.

The final part of the process is to take a step back and admire your new laminate flooring! Providing it has been installed correctly, it should last for many years to come.

To see the range of laminate flooring on offer at Flooring Megastore, click here.