If you would love to have wood floors but do not feel you can afford them, consider laminate wood flooring. You will have the rich look of hardwood floors without the added expense, and you can install them yourself for even greater savings. Do a bit of research first to become knowledgeable about the product and installation procedures, and then get started.

Figure the amount to buy, and purchase your flooring.

· Measure

Measure the floor to determine how many square feet of flooring you need. A room 10 feet by 12 feet would be 120 square feet. (Length x width = square feet.)

· Allow for waste.

It is best to purchase a little extra to allow for errors that you may make when cutting the laminate and for the normal waste that occurs when cutting the pieces to fit the room. You could use those end pieces and errors in a closet where they will not be seen if you wish.

· Underlayment

When you purchase your flooring, buy 1/8 inch thick underlayment plastic that protects the sub floor from moisture and is cushioned to reduce sound. You will need an equal amount of underlayment and laminate flooring.

Get the floor ready.

· Clean and smooth the floor.

If you have carpet on the floor, remove it along with the pad and nailing strips. Remove any existing baseboards or trim. Make sure that the floor is flat, level and clean. If there is a nail or anything else sticking up higher than ¼ inch, pull it out, pound it in or scrape it off flush with the floor. If there are any holes in the floor three inches or larger, fill them in, smooth the patch well, and clean the floor of all dust and dirt.

Decide which direction the planks should be placed.

· Determine the best placement.

Laminate floor planks usually look best when they are parallel to the sunlight coming through the windows in the room, but lay a few planks down going in each direction, and look at them from all angles to determine the effect before cutting them to fit.

Install the underlayment.

· Underlayment should overlap.

Roll the underlayment out on the floor in the same direction that you will be placing your laminate planks. Cut it to fit the floor, tape the pieces together with clear wide plastic tape, and leave about one inch of underlayment overlapping at each end.

Install the flooring.

· Spacers

Put quarter inch spacers between the planks and the wall around the entire room.

· Start in a corner.

Lay the first plank over the underlayment in a corner of the room allowing the underlayment to come up on the wall higher than the planks. Snap the next plank to the end of the first plank and continue until you reach the end of the room where you will need to cut the last plank to fit.

· Keep the rows straight.

Make sure your first row is perfectly straight before laying the next row. Begin the second row with the cut piece remaining from the end of the first row, and snap the length of it into the first row. You will need to snap the remaining pieces into the ends and sides of the planks on the floor. Carefully move the new planks into the proper position with a hammer and block of wood.

Edges

· Molding

Remove the spacers and install quarter round molding or baseboards around the edges of the floor. Miter the corners of the trim before nailing them.

· Thresholds

Finish by adding thresholds across the doorways unless your laminate flooring continues into the adjoining room.

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More information

How Stuff Works: Installing Laminate Flooring

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