Checklist for laying laminate
The days when carpeting was laid in German living rooms have long gone. Laminate has now become the real top seller in modern living spaces. This is not least due to how easy they are to maintain. Most recently with the development of click laminate flooring, laying laminate is no longer a problem for DIYers. If you take the time to think about the tools and materials you'll need in advance, you won't encounter any nasty surprises and can lay a complete room in just a few hours.
To lay laminate in your own home, you will need:
Laminate is now available in different qualities and at different prices. Generally, a high-quality laminate should cost you in the region of €12 - €18/m2. Depending on the variety, footfall sound insulation should cost another €1 - €3/m2. Retailers will usually charge around €4/m2 for the necessary skirting boards, which should ideally be compatible with the laminate. If the laminate is not laid continuously, but changes to a different material inside door frames, a transition rail will be required. Finishing in usable quality costs around €10 euros per metre, available from DIY stores.
How long it takes to fit an entire room with laminate, will of course depend on your own DIYer's genes. However, if we assume a room without large corners, pipes or other special cases, it should be possible to finish laying in just a few hours. A big mistake when laying laminate is to assume that small rooms need less time than large ones. The most time is taken up cutting and customising each board.
As easy as the industry has made it to do-it-yourself, a few tools are still needed for installation. Most of these will already be part of a standard DIYers basic arsenal. For other tools, it's only really worth making a purchase if you're planning to lay a lot of laminate.
To be able to cut the plastic or felt footfall sound insulation to the right size, a simple box cutter is needed. For straight cuts, it's a good idea to use the laminate board as a guide.
Spacer blocks – for perfect spacing
Since laminate reacts to thermal fluctuations and changes in humidity and contracts or expands, it is important not to lay the laminate right up to the wall. It is generally advisable to leave a centimetre between the wall and the laminate (floating installation). You can find special spacer blocks for this purpose from trade stores. But of course, the savviest spenders among you can also make your own spacer blocks from wood or laminate cutoffs.
Folding ruler / laser – size matters
In order to cut the laminate to the correct length with the saw, it is essential to determine the required length in advance. Traditionally, this can be done using a folding ruler. But if you like to do things in a more modern way, you could also use a laser rangefinder. Remember to deduct the centimetre gap to the wall when you are measuring up.
Jigsaw – the all-purpose laminate weapon
The jigsaw is an almost indispensable tool when cutting laminate. Whether transverse or longitudinal, straight or round, with a fine saw blade all kinds of cuts are possible. You can also buy special laminate saw blades from hardware stores, which make cutting even easier. While the jigsaw can master all the cuts, it has one tiny drawback: the speed!
Mitre saw – for straighter than straight cuts
DIYers with a mitre saw in their collection can offer a tired smile at the speed of a jigsaw. Straight laminate cutting is no problem for the mitre saw and you can be done in just a few seconds. With a mitre saw with a pull function, even slightly longer diagonal cuts in the laminate are no problem. For curved cuts, however, the jigsaw is still the tool of choice.
Laminate cutter – for large volumes
For those of you who not only want to lay laminate in your own home, but also want to spruce up your friends', neighbours' and mother-in-law's floors, it may be worth considering buying a laminate cutter. As the name suggests, laminate cutters can simply and safely cut laminate. However, curved cuts are not possible with this tool and must still be made with the jigsaw. Laminate cutters are constructed like over-sized scissors with a large and stable baseplate. If you're not sure about investing in your own laminate cutter, you can also rent them from most hardware stores.
Circular (table) saw – precision in the making
A lot of patience is required when sawing with the traditional jigsaw, particularly when sawing the last row of laminate. But when combined with a guide rail, circular saws are practically unbeatable. Circular or plunge saws make it possible to cut diagonal boards. At least when the underside of room doors has to be shortened due to increased floor height, circular saws with guide rails are indispensable.
Multitool – making quick work of door frames
The multitool comes in handy once you reach the door frames with your laminate. With an oscillating multitool, door frames that have already been installed can be shortened to get to the laminate underneath without any problems. For this purpose, cutoffs from the laminate laid are used as a stop on the floor, the multitool is placed on it and then the frame is shortened to the appropriate height. Of course, this step can also be done with a Japanese saw, a handsaw that works on the pull stroke.
Pull bar & tapping block
Laminate should always be laid as close as possible, otherwise moisture and dirt can penetrate into the gaps. And we don't need to mention that concertina laminate with gaps looks horrible. But it happens and gaps in laminate flooring will be there to haunt you for years to come! For this reason we strongly recommend that you use a pull bar and tapping block. These will help you to hit the laminate firmly together with a hammer without resulting in any damage to the floor covering. It is also possible to rent this tool for a day from many hardware stores for just a few euros.
Forstner drill bit – no more problems from heating pipes
If radiator pipes come out of the floor, it is advisable to carry out the necessary drilling using a Forstner drill bit. The diameter of the Forstner drill bit must also be kept a small distance from the pipe. When the pipes heat up they expand along with the surrounding material. If you do not pay attention to the necessary distance you will be rewarded with annoying clanking noises!
As you can see from this checklist, most of the tools you need can already be found in your toolbox. While specialist tools can make your work easier, they are by no means essential.
So there's no reason for you to fear laying laminate yourself.