4 Kinds of Tools for Installing Laminate Flooring
I was making Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies from scratch, my variant on the standard recipe where I used science to help me get the chewy part to work without having to underbake them. Now at this point, I don't need a written shopping list to buy the ingredients I need. Even if the thought to bake them occurs to me as I'm already doing my shopping, I know exactly what to get, and usually even how much of each I already have at home. This I did, and then confidently I proceeded to concoct my dough. Until I got to "1 and 1/8 tsp. baking soda" ("and 1/8?" ... my water is a little alkaline. The extra keeps the cookies from 'falling', as cakes did in 1950's family sit-coms). I looked everywhere. Who runs out of baking soda? But I'd forgotten that I had used it on my carpet the last time I vacuumed. Something new (therefore forgettable). It worked, but now I needed to drive out to the store to spend a whopping 79 cents for exactly one item. One, tiny little ingredient, of which I needed just a teaspoon, not even worth the drive, if not for the fact that without it there would be zero cookies.
What's this got to do with flooring?
Installing laminate flooring is one of the simplest of the larger do-it-yourself projects, and one of the keys to keeping it easy is having your materials ready before you start. This includes not only trims and floor pad, but also the tools you'll need. To facilitate that last one, and hopefully keep you from needing to drive out to the home store for one, tiny little, essential thing, Floors To Your Home has just gathered the tools needed for most standard laminate flooring installations into two installation kits, a basic bucket of supplies, and a deluxe kit which includes a saw. Here is what comes in the kits, what each item is for, and some helpful tips.
Cutting Your Boards
The jigsaw only comes in the Deluxe Installation Bucket, for those who don't already have the saw they need. The jigsaw is used to cut the laminate planks so they will fit as you approach the wall. It comes with instructions, so you can use it safely and properly, and plugs into the wall to maintain power as your installation progresses. Battery powered saws can weaken long before they need to recharge. Most people find it useful to have an area to make the cuts which is away from their installation, to keep the sawdust from being a nuisance as the floor is installed. I recommend doing the cuts in a nearby room over a big, plastic sheet (for easy cleanup at the end). If the garage or a doorway to an outside location is close, those areas are even better options. Many people will lay the plank over a bucket, allowing much of the sawdust to accumulate there. You'll find a bucket included, should you wish to give that tip a try.
Everything else comes in all of our Installation Buckets.
It's crazy important to be sure that your measurements are right, and your cutting lines are straight before making your cuts. Being careless here can eat up your extra plankage pretty quickly, and you may wind up reordering more cartons of your flooring just to get the last few feet done, which would... well, which would suck! To facilitate precision, we have included measuring tape and a Speed Square. The latter will drop over the side of your plank, so that your cut line can be both straight and perfectly square. The measuring tape needs no explanation, but I have one recommendation. Measure twice, ideally having it done by two people. You do it, then have another double check it. This is not to cover ineptness, but the numerical fog that can come with a day of measuring the same things in the same way over and over.
There is no avoiding the time you will spend down on this floor as you install it, so we've included knee pads, and let me tell you, they help. Even if you're tough and all that, use them anyway, just to eliminate the distraction and allow you to focus on what you're doing. Likewise with the safety glasses and the mask. You don't need sawdust in your eyes, and when your floor is finished, and all furniture is in place, you'll want to sit down, relax, and enjoy your new room, not spend the rest of the night coughing. They're right there, available and easy. Use them, especially when cutting.
Installation Specific Tools
You will also find in the bucket a rubber mallet, and, packed together, our long available "Installation Kit," comprised of a tapping block, a pull bar and a bunch of spacers. Each has its use in the installation process. Spacers are first.
When you install a floating floor, you need to leave a little space between the edge of the floor and your wall. This is called the Expansion Gap, and it's there to allow the floor to expand and contract without running into the wall. These adjustable spacers get propped up against the wall, and then the flooring is installed against them, leaving just the right amount of gapping. When you're done they come right up, and then your trims will hide the gaps.
As you click your planks together, they should become perfectly snug as they lock and lay flat. If they don't, and you're inclined to tap them together, the Tapping Block will become your good friend. It rests against the side of the board, spreading out the force as you tap it on the other side with your rubber mallet. This allows you to move your floor pieces together without damaging the locking mechanisms. You should put the weight of your body on the pieces you already have in place, so that they do not move, but only the new piece moves in snug with the existing floor.
The Pull Bar comes into play when you need to 'tap' something, but a tapping block, let alone the mallet, will not reach the edge necessary to tap. It hangs over the opposite side of the plank you need to pull toward you, and you hit the part of the bar that sticks up, still essentially tapping the new piece toward, or into, the already placed flooring.
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David has written and made videos about flooring products and installation since 2011 at Floors To Your Home (.com), where he is also the PPC Manager, a Researcher, a Website & Marketing Strategy Team member, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jito. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, put together a podcast, explore film history, and mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’). Connect with W. David Lichty
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