My living room floors when I moved into my house we brown. Brown, plain carpet that had been there for 20 years and the stains reflected that. They were the last thing that I wanted on my house floors. I was incredibly lucky and my parents decided to redo their floors and they gave me their old laminate.
Know your Product
The laminate I was using was a click together type that had a pad attached to the bottom. This meant that I was lucky and didn’t have to lay down a pad beforehand. The pieces attach together like a puzzle and when they are connected, they interlock to hold each other together. The flooring is floating, meaning it isn’t attached to the subfloor. This means it will expand and contract so it needs to have space on the sides of it to do so. For any type of flooring, MAKE SURE your subfloor is as level and without bumps as possible.
My subfloor was particle board and there were a few areas that had been, to put it politely, chewed up. I used this leveling product that resembled a pre-mixed cement that the flooring department recommended to level it out. After I applied it with a putty knife and it dried, I had a subfloor with no dents or bumps. It worked really well!
The First Course
I laid the first course along a specific wall for a couple reasons. First, I wanted the flooring to lay perpendicular to my door to lead people into the house. Second, by laying along this wall, I could follow that same line throughout the house, regardless of the rooms or walls between. I did have to “scribe” it to the wall. No wall is square and perfect so I had to custom shape the first line of board to match the shape.
Laying the Field
The boards are cut to several lengths so that you don’t have the ends of two boards match up side by side. This helps to make the floor look more like several boards laid down instead of a large board with a picture of multiple boards. Each piece is tapped in using a mallet and tapping block. I realized as I laid the floor that brute force was not required, just a gentle and patient tapping is required and in many cases more helpful. The spacing along the edges was done with plastic spacers taped to the walls. All of the pieces and tools necessary are available in this kit that is similar to the one I used.
The floor turned out pretty good! I got the spacing a little too big along some edges but that can easily be fixed my using slightly thicker trim work along the base boards. There’s a gap opening up along one line between two boards. One day, I’ll tap it back into place and pin it down with a single nail. If there’s one piece of advice, make sure you get some good professional kneepads like these because you’ll spend the whole day on your knees, even for a small area. I don’t miss the old carpet at all!