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Install Wood Strip or Laminate Flooring

Step 7: Laminate Flooring Installation

Laminate flooring is a fast, easy way to produce the look of wood, with major advantages in terms of a fast, almost tool-free installation (aside from a good carbide blade in your circular saw or miter box). We'll describe Armstrong's locking laminate floor, a material that can be applied over concrete (unlike traditional strip floor). Before buying any manufactured flooring, study the specifications about moisture conditions, subfloor construction, and installation details.

Armstrong's laminate, like other “floating” floors, is not attached to the underlayment, and it needs a 14" gap on all sides (and near anything fixed, like a post or kitchen island) to allow for expansion. Unlike many products, however, this material needs no glue at the joints, saving a messy and time-consuming part of installation.

Getting Started

Building Smarts

Scribing is a trick for adjusting to the real world of irregular buildings. Hold the first board parallel to the starting wall, measure how far it must move to reach the desired location, set a divider (compass) to that length, and scribe the cutting line by dragging the divider along the wall and marking the board. The divider must be square to the wall while you mark.

Find the starting point for the installation using the guidelines described for strip flooring. If the last board will be too narrow, cut the first board lengthwise. If the starting wall is irregular, mark and cut the edge of the first board by scribing, as described in the sidebar.

Joining the Boards

Instead of gluing the joint, this locking floor has edges that simply lock together.

To lock a side joint, hold the new board angled up, engage the mechanism, and press down. The tongue is on the right board, the groove is on the left board.

To engage the end joint, hold the new board at an angle. Lift the already-set boards, engage the side joint, and press down.

Continue joining the boards. Pull boards from several cartons and inspect each before use. Test-fit an entire row before locking it into place. After locking each row, walk on the floor to press it down.

Finishing Up

The last board must be either ripsawed or scribed to width. In either case, be sure to remove an extra 14" so the flooring does not jam against the wall.

When you're done, replace the base trim.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Simple Home Improvements © 2004 by David J. Tenenbaum. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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