August 23, 2023

How to Install Laminate Flooring

If you have been wondering how to install laminate flooring in your home I am here to say that YOU CAN DO IT. I have spent the last week installing Pergo Laminate wood flooring upstairs and it looks incredible. Let’s walk through what I picked, step by step installation, and tips & tricks I learned along the way. But first, let me explain why we were looking to upgrade.

A smiling woman stands on laminate flooring, holding a hammer above her head

I have been dreaming of swapping out our flooring upstairs for years. Originally when our first contractor laid our carpeting upstairs, he did a poor job. We didn’t notice until we moved in and had to live with this lumpy wonky carpet #nothanks.

Due to the circumstances with our downstairs remodel we ended up just learning to live with it because we didn’t really have another option. We could’ve paid someone to come stretch it but didn’t want to invest anymore into the carpet because as it turned out, the carpet quality was also super poor. So when I was given the opportunity to partner with the Home Depot on their flooring campaign I knew this was going to be the perfect opportunity.

This post is sponsored by The Home Depot. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Perkins On Parkway.

How to Install Laminate Flooring

STEP 1: Picking the right flooring

Going into this I knew I wanted something really durable yet cost effective. I wanted it to feel good, but I also wanted it to look good. I have had experience with laminate and hardwood in the past, and great experiences with both. Knowing that we might have kids living upstairs someday, I opted for laminate because I know it is extremely durable while giving the appearance of hardwood.

Color is also EXTREMELY important when I am deciding on a flooring because it impacts every other aspect of the room design. I was so impressed with Home Depot’s expansive colors options. Everything from warmer to cooler, light to dark, and everything in between. For me it is super important to see the flooring in person before making a decision. The color can change depending on the lighting in the room and often will look much different in real life than on screen. I narrowed down my selection to 5 different options and then ordered samples:

A comparison photo of different Pergo flooring options

When they arrived in person, it was a super easy decision. The Pergo Outlast+ in Sunbaked Sand Oak was the clear standout. You can see in the online images it is really a little more pink, in person it comes across with more of a warm yellow undertone. I am in love.

A hand holds up a sample of the final choice, a light colored laminate

For my flooring project I was also planning on tackling the stairs so we had to order the coordination stair treads and quarter round molding in the color Pearl. I didn’t know this, but often instead of producing those pieces in every single color variation they will produce a smaller collection of colors meant to go with multiple flooring options.

STEP 2: Prep

A before and after of the flooring with carpet and without

Because we were installing the laminate on a wooden subfloor, when we pulled up the carpet we had a lot of work to do in order to get the subfloor ready for laminate installation. You want as flat and as level of a surface as possible. Here is what we did:

  1. Removed the carpet. This was pretty easy since it wasn’t installed super well. We started in the corner, pulled it up, cut it into sections and removed it from the room. TIP: we were working on the second story so instead of walking the carpet downstairs, we threw it out the window.
  2. Removed all carpet tack strips, popped nails and staples. For this part of the process we leaned heavily on our painters multi tool and our staple remover.
  3. Removed the baseboard. Because our baseboards were installed over carpet they didn’t have enough clearance for the laminate flooring to slide underneath. I didn’t want to add shoe molding, so we opted to remove all of the baseboard. TIP: if you plan on reusing the baseboards, label the back of the baseboards and the wall so you can easily identify which board goes where.
  4. Fix squeaky areas. We added screws in several parts of the flooring to fix squeaking plywood.
  5. Fill in holes. Our subfloor had several indentations/holes so we used wood filler to fill those areas to create a level base for the laminate flooring.

STEP 3: Prepare the Door Jams

Because our door jams were installed with the baseboards we removed, they were too low to accommodate the new flooring. In order to prep these for the new flooring, we used to a dremel multi tool to remove the bottom portion of the trim using the new floor as a guide. You can find the video for how we did this here.

STEP 4: Install Underlayment

This was the easiest part of the process. We used Pergo Floormate Premium Underlayment and it was super easy to cut to size and attach together. It comes with pre tapped sides so you don’t have to use anything extra.

A closeup of laminate underlayment
A wider shot of the laminate underlayment installed on the floor

STEP 5: Install Laminate

  1. You will need some tools to install your laminate flooring. We used this kit that included everything we needed to lay the floor. It came with a mallet, tapping block, pull bar and spacers. In addition to these tools we used a jigsaw, miter saw and table saw to make cuts. You could definitely get by with just a jigsaw, but we liked having all three options for the different cuts that we needed to make. A laminate install kit is pictured
  2. All laminate will expand/contract so you will need a 3/8th spacer on the wall of your first row. You will also need to measure your flooring to make sure that your first and last piece will be the same width. In our room we needed to cut down our 7.5 inch boards to 5.5 inches. Spacers along the walls prevent the laminate from getting warped
  3. As you get ready to install your laminate you will want to use boards from different boxes. Pay attention to the patterns of the board, ideally you don’t want two identical boards ending up near each other. Laminate boards are laid out on the floor
  4. One you have your boards ready for the first row you will install the tongue side of the board against the wall. We started in the far right corner and moved our way across the room. The flooring is super easy to click into place.
  5. We opted to float the flooring through the door frames instead of using a door transition. This made it a little hard to get the flooring through the door frames but I think it is worth it for a super clean look. Laminate flooring installed in the doorway
  6. You will want to stagger the seams of your flooring. You do not want the flooring to have a noticeable pattern. You want it to look random. The staggered seams should be at least 12 inches apart.
  7. Overall this laminate is super easy to install and click into place. The tongue and groove system makes it super easy. Before you install each board you will want to double check for damage. We installed a couple boards and then had to remove them due to a chipped corner. Avoid this mistake! A closeup of the laminate flooring with all the seams lined up and clicked into place

Here is the final result for our upstairs area. Such a HUGE upgrade. I am so happy with how natural it looks, the color, and the product. I told Michael several times that I like this flooring better than what we have downstairs in our home. Mostly I just can’t believe THAT I DID THIS. I laid an entire floor of new flooring in my own house! Feels incredible. Up next I have to tackle the stairs, which seems a little more difficult so here is hoping we can get it done. But now that I know how to install laminate flooring, it shouldn’t be too bad.

This laminate is such a great base for the guest room remodel that we are doing that I can’t wait to get the room painted to see how much more elevated the flooring looks!

Laminate flooring installed in a white bedroom A before and after of the guest bedroom with carpet and then with laminate flooring A woman stands on laminate flooring holding a hammer and smiling

Meet Krystle

Welcome to Perkins On Parkway where we share DIY & design projects, renovation tips, lessons learned and the styling that comes after.

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