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How to Install Laminate Flooring: DIY Tips and Tricks

This post may contain affiliate links which won't change your price but will share some commission.

The post How to Install Laminate Flooring was sponsored by Golden Select but all opinions are my own.

Everything you need to know on how to install laminate flooring including DIY tips on preparation, tools and installation for a gorgeous floor you CAN do yourself!

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If you’ve been following along with our recent kitchen remodel (read my best tips for saving thousands of dollars!) you know we’ve torn down a wall between the kitchen and living room and totally gutted the kitchen. It’s been an adventure to say the least!

When we pulled up the carpet in the living room a few years ago we discovered there were hardwoods in most of the room but only plywood where a porch had been converted to living space. So we did what every responsible home owner does. We added peel and stick flooring and a threshold to try and hide the fact that the floors didn’t match. In the kitchen was a 20-year-old peel and stick fake hardwood look. We were going with the distressed, shabby chic look apparently. ~eye roll~

You can read the beginning of the floor saga and all the problems we ran into when we started pulling up the kitchen floor, the HUGE unexpected expenses, as well as my best tips for choosing flooring for your home. FUN times at the Christmas holidays!

We knew we wanted the same flooring in both rooms to unify and enlarge the space and we were thrilled to partner with Golden Select for this DIY project. We chose Toledo Laminate Flooring, which has an authentic wide plank, handscraped texture with the beauty and feel of hardwood flooring.

To say we’re thrilled with the finished product is an understatement! We knew the floors would be the icing on the cake for our remodel, but you’ll have to read on to see just how beautiful they are.

After all the deconstruction of the floors (and finished kitchen, hooray!) here’s where we started.

A living room filled with furniture and a fireplace 

Materials:

(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience.  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)

Laminate flooring
3-Inch Pro Pull Bar
Plank Tapping Block
Rubber Mallet
Electric Oscillating Multifunction Power Tool
3-in-1 Underlayment
Installation Spacers

How to Install Laminate Flooring

Instructions:

From Tim: 

I have to confess that, after waiting awhile for our flooring to arrive, I was pretty intimidated when this showed up in our driveway! 46 boxes of brilliantly packaged and prepared laminate flooring, and the only thing standing between me and success was, well, 46 trips from here to the house!

It was pretty exciting, but those boxes are heavy. I tried to hook the pallet to my truck that was at the top of the driveway with a strap and drag it a bit closer, but that snapped. Then it was personal! (Marty was wisely away for the weekend. Sneaky!)

A close up of a box

This is the most amazingly well-made flooring I’ve ever seen! This particular line came with the pad already attached to the back and was a wide-plank design, which we absolutely love.

A close up of a door

The thickness is a whopping 15 mm 0.59” total thickness, which proved to be incredible in compensating for both minor and major deviations in the floor. It also allowed a rigidness that made us so confident in how the flooring would hold up to traffic and pets, parties and people. I was blown away by this feature alone!

Flooring

Step 1.  Allow floor time to acclimate

There are a number of different approaches available on the internet as to exactly how and where to start a flooring project. However, they ALL start with a mandatory acclimation time of at least a couple days, letting the product adjust to climate, humidity, temperature, and even elevation

Let me address something right away that you might have already observed. That is the roll underlayment under the Golden Select product. Remember that the Toledo line comes with an attached foam backer.

However, I chose to add additional underlayment because over half my existing sub-flooring had a light to moderate degree of glue residue on it after removing everything from peel-and-stick to tile floors…to the tune of five layers! I could not have my floating floor sticking in place to glue!

My thinking was that it would literally tear the floor apart to be stuck tight in one place and not in another. They are called floating floors because they are specifically and intentionally not attached, but they also expand and contract with temperature and humidity variation of the seasons. There was also consideration given for extra sound buffering.

Step 2. Decide where to start

My starting point choice was the longest exterior wall, which is where the windows are. The thinking is that the exterior wall is likely the most “true,” or straight. Well, not true for me, of course. This wall had a 2″ bow in it that had to be immediately dealt with, because to ignore it would have catastrophic results 15′ into the room.

OH! One last thing. You might notice that I removed the old shoe molding but not the baseboard. I ended up changing my mind and ripped out the baseboard as well. It just helped me deal with the bow in a satisfactory way.

A room with a wooden floor

Step 3. Stagger boards, tap and lock into place

According to the manufacturer’s suggestion, three boxes are mixed together to avoid duplication of pattern. My piles ready to install are 18 pieces randomly chosen and put in place. I repeated this practice through the entire project and staggered the placement of the boards as I worked.

This is what that process looks like…I know, it ain’t pretty but it keeps me off my knees!

Flooring

The Easy SelectLOC TM click installation allows for a tighter lock and easier install process. Once the board is set you can be quite aggressive as you lock into place, but keep those fingers clear! Also, a notched tapping block is essential. As you reach a wall, switch to the tapping bar that kind of looks like a pry bar. 

Shoes on a wooden floor

Here’s a good installation, with all seams tight and flush.

Flooring

This was a couple night’s work and gave us a nice taste of the finished product. I would later pull things away from the wall to re-install the moldings and paint, but it was nice to get even this far.

A living room with a wooden floor

My helper preparing to snap and lock a full piece.

Flooring

If the floor gets wonky, it might be necessary to persuade that long seam to come together, but be gentle! If this edge is damaged the piece is trashed and will have to be replaced.

Flooring

Step 4. Use of Spacers

This is the transition into the dining room and the island is behind the camera. To my astonishment, the floor fell at a full piece along the wall and the spacing was perfect.

An important step in this process, and one that every floating floor requires, is use of spacers all along every wall or obstacle. Spacers are usually small plastic wedges that are graduated to accommodate various widths.

In this picture, they fall along that left hand wall and are vertical all the way down. These allow for the proper spacing (hence, the label!) of the floor away from the wall to let the floor expand and contract. They are removed prior to installation of the new moldings, but are critical at this point of the project.

A building with a wooden floor

An important pre-installation step for each piece that meets a side wall is the removal of the locking edge. This allows for a solid edge to bump to the spacers. As any board is cut, it probably cannot be used elsewhere because the locking edge is gone.

However, DO NOT DISCARD YOUR WASTE. It can be the difference between finishing with enough product and having to get one more box. (HA! Marty’s watermark in the pic looks like a tattoo!)

Flooring

I decided to remove the barn wood from around the island and cut it to allow the floor to run under those pieces. Next up was also painting the plywood black to better conceal the imperfections of the re-purposed wood.

A confession here is that I was terrified that the floor would not match up from one end of the island to the next. The compensation for that 2″ bow on the first row became critical here.

To my relief, when I came back down the back side of the island everything matched up perfectly…and that NEVER happens for me! As a side note, I was told that this might be the place to START the project for this very reason, but it all worked out.

A kitchen with a wood floor

I had already decided that there would be no molding around the island, so that required more precision with cuts and placement; another good reason to let the barn wood come down on top of the flooring.

A wooden floor

So, here we’re all the way across both rooms and back to the original exterior wall (the house has an addition all the way across the back). Guess what? Another bow!

Flooring

But, with some scribing and tweaking, the new molding compensated beautifully.

Flooring

And one more project in the DIY completed album!

A living room filled with furniture on top of a hard wood floor

Back to Marty: Whew! I’m exhausted and all I did was take pictures! My husband did an amazing job installing our laminate flooring.

Because our home was built in the 1950’s there were certainly some quirks he had to work around. Tim is a planner and made sure he thought through as much of the process as he could beforehand and watched the installation video for helpful tips.

A living room filled with furniture and a fire place

***This product is only available at Costco in Canada.

What do you think? Laminate flooring is so much more affordable than hardwoods so would you try this DIY project yourself?

CLICK BELOW TO SEE THE OTHER POSTS IN OUR RANCH STYLE HOME KITCHEN REMODEL:  

  Small Ranch Home Kitchen Remodel: The Dream Begins!
  How to Save Thousands of $$$ on a Kitchen Remodel
  5 Practical Tips on How to Choose Flooring for Your Home 
  How to Take Care of Your Pets During Your Remodel
♥  Set up a Temporary Kitchen During a Remodel
♥  How to Install Laminate Flooring: DIY Tips and Tricks (you are here)
How to Choose Kitchen Cabinet Hardware
 How to Build a Sliding Barn Door
 How to Remodel a Ranch Style Kitchen
How to Build a DIY Floating Mantel (out of barn wood!) 

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8 Comments

  1. Your floors look great! Hats off to your husband and helper for a great job! We installed laminate in our living/dining areas which are all open to each other too. We used a cheaper product that I am not real happy with. When we did our bedroom last year we bought better quality and I like it a lot. We learned you can’t always be cheap, especially with flooring. In our kitchen we used vinyl planking, which I love. It’s so much warmer and softer than the ceramic tiles we had (not to mention not dealing with dirty grout anymore). We will definitely be using that when we get to the bathrooms.

    1. Thanks so much, Pam. The great thing about these floors is they are top quality AND are affordable, sold in Costco in Canada. You sound like us in that you’ve tried different products in your home! Good luck with the bathrooms! We have one more to tackle as well.

  2. Hi Marty,
    The floors look great! Congrats on a fabulous makeover. If the product is only available in Canada, do they ship to the US homeowner? Sending this URL to a friend, but she would not DIY it so IDK about getting them from Canada. Anyhoo, let’s let her have a look. Thanks for sharing! So happy for you! The kitchen looks great! Susie from The Chelsea Project

    1. Hi, Susie. Thanks for the compliment. We do love our new floors! I don’t have the answer to your question but I would imagine if you can order online then you could have the product shipped to the US. That’s how the floors were shipped to us. Is your friend going to have someone install them for her? We’re totally thrilled with the product and the look!

  3. The floor looks great. I love your post. My husband sent it to me and we are thinking to install the exact same laminate as yours. May I ask which saw do you use to cut the laminate? Thank you

  4. Selection of the flooring material is one of the important part and if you choose the laminate flooring then i.e. a good decision as compared to other materials. To install the laminate flooring first you should make a plan for this then decide in which shape, size and color you want to install. If you know the process then diy installation process is not a difficult task, you can do yourself. In your blog the way you explain the installation process is really helpful to others and this can also save time and money.

  5. Hi, how does the flooring hold up your pets and kids. I am wanting to purchase these same floors from Costco but have read bad reviews on the Costco website. Thanks.

    1. Hi, Holly. We have two dogs and two grandsons (our kids are grown now) and the floors don’t show any scratches at all. They have held up great and we are so pleased with them after almost two years. The only thing you need to be aware of is the kind we got is not waterproof so you need to stay on top of spills. We happen to have an elderly dog who pees in the house at times and any water/fluid sitting on top of the floors for long lengths of time can make the floor buckle a little. Even though our flooring runs through the kitchen we haven’t had any problems with water in that part of the room. Hope this helps!

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