What Tools and Materials Will You Need to Install Laminate Flooring?
If you’ll install your laminate floor yourself, you may need some tools and devices that many don’t normally have in the garage. We’ll put a shopping list at the bottom, but first we want to go over some of these so you’ll know what they do and why you would need them.
Wall spacer wedges
Laminate floors naturally expand and contract due to changes in humidity, so
you will need to install your floor not right up to, touching, your walls,
but about 1/4″ away. This leaves a gap which allows the floor to expand
without buckling somewhere in the middle of your room (called, appropriately
enough, an Expansion Gap). Wall spacer wedges prevent laminate floors from
pushing against the walls as you install across your room, creating the gap
you need. Once your floor is all down, you would just take them out, and put
trims down to cover the gaps.
Laminate floors are designed with grooved and tongued edges on each side,
making them easy to install. But as you go, you may need to close a seam, or
re-close one that has jiggled a little loose as you’ve moved down a row.
This could involve tapping, which might make you want to use something like
a hammer, the heel of your shoe or a puck. These are not advised. Your best
option will be a Tapping Block, designed just for this purpose. It covers
the locking mechanism, leaving a flat surface on the other side for your –
not hammer – mallet.
Our video shows you exactly how to use it, and how not to. It’s very worth watching.
The Pry Bar is another vital tool for installing laminate flooring. When you get to your very last row, the one sandwiched between your penultimate row and the final wall spacers, you will need a way to basically tug it toward you as you install it. You can’t get on the other side with your tapping block, because there will be a wall in the way. The Pry Bar takes care of this, latching over the opposite side of the plank and stretching in toward you, with a flap sticking up that you can hit with your mallet.
It can also be used to pull up old floorboards before you install your new floor, and can be used to remove nails. Very handy, this.
As you get to the end of a row, you will need to cut a plank to fit at the end. To cut the plank, you may need to draw a line on it. To draw the line straight, we recommend a Speed Square. The Speed Square is a useful, triangular shaped instrument very good for making straight lines on your floor planks. It can also be used as a small ruler.
Emphasis on ‘straight’, and probably pretty long, at least a yard. Why? Well, a common issue people run into during installation is an uneven subfloor. There will be a recommended, tolerable amount of variance in the even flatness of your floor. Any more than this amount can lead to gapping, disconnections and breakage over time. Laying a straight edge on the floor will enable you to check the flatness by finding any high or low spots. This use of a simple straight edge can save you a lot of frustration.
Laminate flooring may be a
green product, but environmentally friendly dust is still dust, and you don’t want to
inhale a lot of it. You also don’t want a lot of it getting into your eyes,
unless you have those new eyeball wipers that haven’t been invented yet.
Also, installing a floor means being close to ground, and you’ll want to
protect your knees. Not pictured are work gloves. The main need for them is
if you do as our frequent demonstrator, Adam, does, and occasionally tap
planks together with the palm of your hand. It will work, but after 150
planks it might start to sting and scratch too.
Here is your cut-and-pastable list of shopping items, in two parts.
Now, we sell a couple of kits with a lot of the specialized tools grouped
together for you. The
deluxe installation kit
includes a jigsaw, and then both contain these items:
- Wall Spacers
- Tapping Block
- Pry bar
- Rubber Mallet
- Speed Square
- Dust Mask
- Saftey Glasses
- Knee Pads
- Tape Measure
Bucket? If you cut your planks over the bucket, using it as a kind of bench, it will catch a good deal of the dust.
Add these remaining, standard tools to your shopping list if you don’t already have them around.
Pencil and/or Marker
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David is 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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