How to Lay Laminate Flooring - dummies

By Gene Hamilton, Katie Hamilton

Get ready to see a major improvement in the floor when you install a laminate floor in the bathroom. A laminate floor can be installed over almost any subfloor. It’s durable and resists stains and surface moisture, so it’s a good choice for a bathroom. Before choosing one brand over another, find out whether it is recommended for use in a bathroom and whether there are any special considerations.

Stack the unopened packages of flooring material in flat rows in the bathroom two days before installing it so it can adjust to the room temperature.

Use a handsaw to undercut door molding or casing. Lay a loose plank (of your new flooring) upside down against the door casing over a piece of the underlayment and saw off the bottom of the casing. Doing so enables you to slide the new planks underneath the casing. Fill any low spots in the underlayment (greater than 3/8 inch) with floor-leveling compound.

Working with laminate flooring is like putting together a puzzle, and you’ll have to figure out where the pieces go before you start gluing them into place. Carefully read the instructions from the manufacturer. You can also ask for installation directions where you bought the flooring. Before you get started, unroll the foam underlayment on the floor and cut it to fit with scissors. Now you’re ready to dry-fit the planks, following these steps:

  1. Dry-fit the planks by installing the first three rows of planks, working from the center to the wall, with the groove toward the wall.

    To maintain the necessary expansion space, use the spacers, which provide a 1/4-inch expansion space between the plank edges and the walls or other fixed surfaces.

  2. When you reach the last plank at the end of a row and it must be cut to fit, turn the plank 180 degrees.

  3. Place this plank with its tongue against the tongue of the last installed plank.

  4. Slide the end of the last plank to be cut to the wall and then back off 1/4-inch or place a spacer between the end of the plank and the wall.

  5. Use the end of the abutting installed plank as a reference to mark the cut line on the plank.

    Use a straightedge or square to draw a straight line on the plank.

  6. Using a handsaw, cut the plank with the finish side up.

    If you’re using a circular saw, cut the plank with the finish side down.

  7. Use a pull bar to fit the last plank’s groove tightly over the tongue of the plank it butts up against.


    When possible, use the piece that is left over from the previous row to begin the next row.

  8. Repeat this process until three rows of planks are fitted and you’re convinced that your layout plan is going to work.

When you’ve laid out and cut the first three rows of planks, carefully lift them up and begin gluing them together, following the same order the planks were dry-fitted.

  1. Fill the plank groove with glue.

    Some glue should squeeze out along the entire length of the plank when the planks are joined together. If you don’t get squeeze-out along the entire joint when you snug up the plank, you haven’t used enough glue.

  2. Assemble the planks on the floor.

    Some floor systems use straps and tapping blocks to pull the planks together.

  3. Remove any excess glue with a damp cloth before it dries.

    Let the first three rows dry for an hour before continuing.

  4. Continue gluing the remaining planks, working from left to right, row after row.

    One end of the plank has a tongue, and the other has a groove. Apply glue to the groove and then push the planks together.

  5. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions about how long the glue should dry before removing the spacers and installing the base shoe molding.