Some people think about doing their own DIY Flooring Installation and cringe. They have this image in their head that it will be incredibly difficult, incredibly time consuming and something that only a professional can swing. But that’s just not the case. At Builders Surplus, we know a lot about flooring, having laminate flooring, LVT flooring and hardwood flooring in stock daily! While it does take some time if you have a big space, you can easily knock it out with one or two people in one day or a few if you’re not working on it non stop. I will break this down as simply as possible and will use my own personal experience with installing click together laminate flooring. Just like everything else, there are slightly different ways to do things when it comes to home improvement projects, so if you’ve had different experiences, share them in the comments below!
Tools You’ll Need:
Knee Pads (Trust me, you want these)
Pliers (Taking out staples)
Table or chop saw
Eye Wear (When using electric saw)
DIY Flooring Installation Steps
Step 1: Remove baseboards and old flooring
Use a hammer and chisel tool to remove your baseboards one by one. If you plan on reusing, be very careful. Also, try to damage your drywall as little as possible. Some damage might be done, but it will be covered by new baseboards, so it’s not the end of the world. Rip up any old linoleum, carpet, or laminate flooring and dispose of it.
Step 2: Clean up and level out
Having a clean space to work with when doing a DIY flooring installation is critical. You need to make sure that all traces of the former floor are gone and that your subfloor is clear of ANY nails or staples. This is one of the most time consuming parts of the process in my opinion. I work in sections, making sure that I have run over every square inch and that all is clear. Then, take a shopvac or something similar and clean up any dirt or debris that your demo has left.
Step 3: Lay underlayment
Underlayment is a very important part of laminate or LVT flooring installation. This is a moisture barrier that is necessary in keeping your floors, subfloors and flooring joists in great shape. Some LVT, like COREtec Plus, comes with a built in cork backing, another type of underlayment, already attached to the back. If you have chosen a flooring like that, you don’t need to do this step. To shop COREtec, Click here! For everyone else, you’ll need to lay your underlayment over the entire surface and duct tape it together and to the edge of the floor. Leave about an inch around the edges.
Step 4: Lay your first row
Laying your first row of laminate is extremely important. You want everything to flow smoothly, especially in a large space. You don’t want to have to change directions at any time. Because of this, find a place in the furthermost left corner and work your way to the right and forward. For me, My front door, dining room and part of my kitchen are recessed back a little bit from the wall. You need your first row to flow completely from left of the space to the right to make sure that all of your flooring lines up properly. Because of this, we started as shown below. We added several rows going down, and then worked our way back towards the wall.
You want to start your first piece up against the wall. You can put a spacer, or a cut piece of flooring standing vertically right between your first piece and the wall to get started. You’re going to just click and lock the flooring on the long end all the way down. You’ll have to make a cut at the very end, which we’ll show you how to do in the next step. With your second row, you’ll want to cut your first piece about half the size of your regular piece of flooring to get the stacked pattern. You may want someone to stand on your first row of flooring while you work on the next few rows (If you have to start like I did and you don’t have a wall that it’s already butted against) so that it doesn’t shift because you’ll be using your tapping block and mallet to knock the pieces flat on the long ends. Click and lock the flooring in place as best as possible, but then if it’s not 100% flat and locked in, take your tapping block and put it on the edge of the flooring. Tap it down downwards and towards the crack that you’re trying to get flat. Be careful so that you don’t chip off any part of the locking mechanism. This is important in the flooring working properly in the next row.
Step 5: Making Cuts
Making cuts is a lot easier than it looks, but make sure you do it right to get the best, cleanest cut and don’t cause a lot of waste. First, you’ll need to flip the flooring board upside down. This is because when you make your cut, the flat cut end needs to be up against the wall, You don’t want to cut off your click and lock mechanism at the end. If you do, it will have no way to lock into place. Mark it with a sharpie or pen. Next, take your triangle and get a perfectly straight cut. Next, take it to your saw and CAREFULLY cut it. If you are not comfortable using a saw, they do have non electric laminate choppers that you can buy at Lowes or Home Depot. Make sure you have a little bit of space because you will most likely need to tap your last piece into place. I didn’t take a photo of this but there is an illustration below showing the motion. You can do this on pieces other than the end piece if needed, but majority of the time I don’t find it necessary.
Step 6: Notching Out around doorways, cabinets, and other obstacles
Every home is different, and every space has different obstacles to overcome. There is not always a 1 size fits all answer. In the video below, you’ll see how to do an easy notch out. Some notching will be more difficult, and it may be trial and error, but the main thing to understand is that you want to measure twice, cut once, as the saying goes.
This piece below was in our hallway, and was by far our most complicated cut. It took us a few tried, but we still got it. We will be adding new baseboards and quarter round, so you won’t see the cracks.
Step 7: Keep going, keep flowing
Keep the flow going, if you have a hallway like I do, you keep the lines going all the way down. I went into two bedrooms to the right, but I just kept the pattern going.
For the most part, you aren’t going to have much waste. Even if you cut the wrong end of a board, or you cut the board too short, just use it in a place that the space is smaller, or at the beginning of the next row. When I cut the wrong end, I would place those boards next to the wall that the board would fit, so I always reused those boards. What you see below is all the waste that I had from almost 1700 square feet.
Step 8: Baseboards
Finally, you’ll put on your baseboards and/or quarter round. Remove the spacers around the border and install baseboards and quarter round covering the plastic moisture barrier on the wall and the gap between the wall and the flooring. Set nail heads slightly below the surface of the molding and fill with wood putty. Use touch up paint to cover the wood putty.
That’s about it, folks! It’s really not as hard as it seems to do a DIY flooring installation.
Builders Surplus is a full service renovation company with locations in Louisville, Kentucky, and Newport, Kentucky, which also serves Cincinnati, Ohio. We are the leading provider of Ledge Stone, wall tile and backsplash tile in Louisville, Newport, and Cincinnati. We specialize in interior design, kitchen design, bathroom remodel, building materials, and home improvement. Interior Design and measurements come as a free service to our clients. We sell building materials ranging in every price point, from unfinished kitchen cabinets to top of the line Wellborn cabinets. In addition to interior design, we also offer installation services. If you have any questions or would like to set up a free design consultation with one of our interior designers, we would encourage you to do so. We love sharing our knowledge with clients & potential home renovators. We write about interior design, home decor, decorating ideas, and home improvement. We hope you’ll check back in for our next article! Happy Renovation!