When my wife Victoria said she wanted laminated flooring I was all up for it… Then she said she wanted it throughout the whole ground floor, seamlessly. Was this a good idea? I’d never fitted laminate flooring before and wasn’t entirely sure I would be able to complete this mammoth task. And wasn’t sure laminate flooring in the kitchen was a great idea. Lets find out how things went in this step by step and hints and tips guide.
The first job to do is measure up the floor area and get down to the shop and buy some laminate flooring. We brought enough to cover the floor area and a couple of extra boxes to cover us for any faulty pieces and off cuts that didn’t fit anywhere. TIP – It’s better to buy extra and take some back rather than have to return to the shop to discover they have sold out!
Tool list – Pencil, tape measure, set square, metal ruler, jigsaw, mitre saw, hammer. (wish I had knee pads)
To get started we took all the skirting of the wall. Most skirting is nailed on and can be removed by carefully by sliding a flat screwdriver or scrapper behind and wedging it off the wall. Just be careful not to damage the plaster when doing this. Next you will need to remove all the existing flooring. We had existing laminate flooring which was easy enough to just pull up. If you have carpet, again, it should be quite easy but you will also need to remove the fixing strips. You will need to get everything out of the room, then give it a good sweep and a vacuum to ensure the floor is completely level and bit free. TIP – Even the smallest stone can be felt under the foot when the flooring is down and makes for an uneven lie.
Once everything is up your ready to start with the underlay. We already had a layer of damp proofing in place which you should consider if you are laying onto a concrete base. This is basically a thin plastic waterproof layer that prevents any moisture getting up onto the laminate flooring. Water and laminate flooring do not mix well! Which we will find out a bit later on. The underlay is easy peasy to lay and can be cut with a good Stanley knife. We purchased ours from B&Q. It’s a 3mm soft foam like roll which can be rolled across the floor and cut to the right size. As our flooring was to be seamless through out we had to do each room one at a time. Starting from the far right corner we started laying the flooring. It’s important to keep a 10mm gap all the way round so that the laminate does not touch the wall. This will prevent the boards from warping when they expand and contract as the house cools and heats up. To help with this task I cut a few 10mm strips of wood that could be placed in the gap and removed after. I found this useful as when you tap in the next row of boards you will find the whole thing moves and shifts about. To ensure you get a good fit and no gaps between boards make sure you use a hammer to tap each board into the next. DON’T however tap the board directly as you will damage the tong and groove. TIP – I used an off cut from another board to hit (tap) with the hammer.
Now for the tricky bit… Doorways. We had a total of 3 internal doorways which can be the trickiest part. You basically have two options:
- Cut the bottom of the door frame using a long panel saw, this will then allow you to slide the flooring under the frame. Just measure up the height of the laminate panel and mark with a pencil.
- Cut the laminate flooring into the shape of the architrave. This is much more complicated but, get it right and you get a really nice finish. You will need to measure with a metal ruler each little groove and bump, then draw this onto the laminate panel and cut with a jigsaw.
I also did my mother in laws ground floor laminate flooring and she had 5 doorways which I did the hard way!
The fire place hearth required beading to be fitting around the edge. This was to cover the gap. I’m not keen on beading but for this, the back and front door there aren’t a lot of choices. We went for a very thin bead which wasn’t very intrusive but did the job. The one other area that you may need to consider is the bottom of the stair case. This was actually very easy as we have carpeted stairs so the laminate just sat close up to the carpet and blended in nicely.
Now, a word of warning. As mentioned before laminate flooring does not go well with water or any kind of moisture. It warps, expands and bubbles the finish leaving it looking nasty. So if your wife says lets put laminate flooring in the kitchen, bathroom or utility room… say NO. We put it in our kitchen and despite being as careful as possible I’ve started seeing some bubbling under the washing machine. TIP – if any water gets on your laminate flooring, wipe it up immediately. TIP – keep spare panels in a cool dry place as you may never be able to buy them again and you may need to replace a panel or two in it’s lifetime.
The final job will be to put all the skirting back on. We purchase new, cut to size with a mitre saw, treated with a wood stain and glued and screwed back onto the wall. Use calk to seal the tops of the skirting and thats it. All done.