How should I install laminate flooring? I’d like to do the work myself, but I’m not sure how to proceed.


Laminate flooring came to North America about 20 years ago. I’ve been watching both the flooring and the people who choose it for their homes since then, and I’ve noticed something that’s not found in other flooring choices: there’s a large range of reactions. Laminates please a lot of people, but also disappoint more than a few homeowners. The varied outcome seems to be dependent on which flooring is chosen, where it’s used, and the expectations.

Laminates were originally developed in Europe and are based on a high density fiberboard core covered with a visible outer layer that simulates wood, stone, or tile (some laminates are available in plain colors). Neighboring pieces fit together with tongue and groove edges, without attaching to the underlying floor at all. Original designs required all these edge joints to be glued together, but most modern laminates click together with a self-locking, glueless tongue and groove joint.

I happen to like laminates a lot – at least, the right kind of laminates. I’ve installed it in two parts of my own home and it’s been working well for three years.

Most people recognize that laminates are fast and easy to install with minimal mess inflicted on the rest of the house. What you probably don’t understand is how very simple the work really is.

steve_maxwell_installs_laminate_flooring_with_sonWhen two of my sons were 10- and 17-years-old we put down about 500 sq. ft. of flooring in the office loft above my workshop in one easy day, including some areas that required fancy cutting. It got to the point where my youngest helpers could quickly and easily install the flooring all on their own, unattended, as fast as any carpenter. Professional installation costs are typically 50% extra on top of flooring costs alone, so there’s good money to be saved if you put it down yourself. Before starting, be sure to download my free technical guide on laminate flooring installation.