Planning & preparation
- Here we are going to show you how to lay Rapid Fit and Twin Clic laminate flooring, as well as how to fit around obstacles such as pipes, and how to apply finishing touches such as trim and threshold bars
- Bear in mind that different laminate designs may have different fitting methods, so be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions
- Generally, the Rapid Fit mechanism has a wider range of laminate options and is quicker and easier to lay. It’s perfect if you will be laying the flooring alone or if you are working in a large room. The Twin Clic mechanism requires two people to fit
- Preparation is one of the most important parts of the job, and the effort you put in at this stage will ensure a long-lasting finish. The preparation you’ll need to do will depend on your floor surface; however, laminate must always be laid on to a level, smooth, clean and dry surface
- Any existing carpet and underlay, tiles or vinyl flooring, must be lifted and removed. If you are going to be laying over existing floorboards, make sure they are firmly secured and that there are no protruding nails or screws
- Most manufacturers recommend the use of flooring underlay to aid with comfort, insulation and soundproofing. It is important to select the right type of underlay for your surface; this will be determined by the type and condition of your subfloor
- When laying laminate flooring, the underlay you’ll use will most likely be foam or fibreboard. Be sure to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when laying underlay
- If your subfloor is concrete, you’ll either need to lay a damp-proof membrane first or choose an underlay that has damp-proofing qualities
- In order to calculate how many packs of underlay and laminate you need, work out the size of the area in m² (length x width = number of metres squared) and remember to include any alcoves. Then, check the coverage of the pack. Purchase an extra 10% to allow for wastage during laying, and keep any spare strips of laminate in case any need replacing in the future
- If the thickness of the underlay, laminate flooring and threshold bar will stop a door opening into the room, the door must be removed and trimmed down to give the necessary clearance. Leave the door off whilst you lay the flooring as you’ll need to cut into the architrave
- Stack the unopened packs of laminate in the room where they are to be laid for at least 48 hours prior to laying. This will allow them to acclimatise to room temperature
Do it right
- Laminate flooring needs to be laid with an expansion gap of between 10–12mm around the edges. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for your product. If your existing skirting is at least that thick, it can be carefully removed prior to fitting and reinstalled once the laminate is in place. However, an easier approach is to install flooring trim to hide the gap between the laminate and the existing skirting
- Ensure that the final row of boards is at least 60mm wide. To achieve this, you’ll need to plan ahead and reduce the width of the first row if required. Remember to allow for the expansion gaps on both sides of the room when working this out
- Your laminate boards can be laid either horizontally or vertically, but it’s best to dry lay some boards to see which design best suits your room. However, if you are laying the laminate on top of existing floorboards, you’ll need to lay the new flooring at a 90° angle to the existing boards for additional rigidity
- Rows of underlay should be laid perpendicular to the laminate and butted together. Leave a 10mm gap between underlay and radiator pipes
- It’s best to start laying the flooring from the left-hand corner of the wall that you’ve removed the door from
- Firmly secure the timber, and wear safety goggles and a dust mask, when sawing or drilling. Do this in a well-ventilated room or go outside if possible
- We’d recommend wearing kneepads for additional protection
- Care for your new laminate floor in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions but, in general, do not use oil, wax or polish
- Brush or vacuum as normal, and use a damp cloth to remove dirt when necessary
- It’s a good idea to apply felt furniture pads to the feet of furniture to avoid scratching the floor
Laying Rapid Fit Laminate
Line up an offcut of underlay and a floorboard with the architrave. Use a panel saw to trim the architrave at their combined height. Then, use a hammer and chisel to remove enough of the bottom of the architrave that the laminate will fit underneath it. Be sure to leave a 10-12mm expansion gap.
Ensure the floor is thoroughly prepared and the underlay is in place. Then, starting at the left-hand corner of the wall where the door is, lay the first piece of laminate with its tongue edge against the wall.
Move the board slightly so you can insert the necessary spacers between the board and both walls, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Line the next board up with the end of the first and press down to click it into position, maintaining the expansion gap to the wall with spacers. Continue along the wall until you can’t lay any more full boards, ensuring the line of boards is perfectly straight.
To fill the gap at the end of a row, lay a full board down parallel with your previous row. Flip the board end-over-end so it is upside down with the groove edge still facing you but the other end touching the end wall spacers.
Use a try square and pencil to mark a cutting guide line parallel with the end of the previous board.
Secure the board in your workbench and then cut with a jigsaw or panel saw. Place the cut piece into position to complete the first row.
If the offcut is at least 300mm long, use it to start the next row from the same end of the room as you started your first row. Otherwise, start the row with a new board sawn in half. Make sure that the joint between boards in adjoining rows is always offset by at least 300mm.
Put a spacer into position against the wall then place the tongue edge of a new board into the groove edge of the previous row, at a 20-30° angle. Make sure the end of the board is butted up against the wall spacers.
Line the next board up, so the tongue is joining the groove of the previous board at 20-30°. Press down to click into position. Continue to lay the row as described above.
If you need to fill a gap between your board and the door, measure the distance between the outer edge of the architrave on either side. Then, measure the gap between the first row and the door. Mark these measurements onto a board and cut it to size. Remember to allow for a 10-12mm expansion gap at each end.
Lay the board up against the architrave and mark where you need to trim the ends so that the board will be able to slide under the architrave. If you are laying your boards vertically, you’ll need to do this to all the boards that come into contact with the architrave.
Cut along the guide marks with a jigsaw or panel saw. Then, slide the first two rows of boards back from the doorway and join the piece of board you’ve cut.
Carefully slide everything back into position so the leading board fits underneath the architrave. Then continue to lay the subsequent rows of laminate as described above.
If you need to cut boards to fit the gap in the final row, rotate the panel 180°, so the tongue faces the wall. Then, measure the gap you need to fill, not forgetting space for expansion gaps. Once the panel is cut, lay as normal.
Laying Twin Clic Laminate
The method is very similar to Rapid Fit other than the locking mechanism. For Twin Clic flooring, boards in the same row are joined end to end by inserting them at 20-30° angles into the connection slot, then clicking them down into position.
Assemble the whole of the next row, including making any necessary cuts, before connecting any boards to the previous row.
With the angle of the new row at 20-30° to the previous one, click the edge locking connections into position. It’s best to ask a friend to help with this.
Fitting around obstacles
First cut the board to the correct length or width, so it would fit if the pipe wasn’t there.
Lay the board to the side of the pipe and, using a tri-square, draw a pencil line onto the board to show where the centre of the pipe is. Include an additional 20mm on top of the pipe diameter to allow for expansion.
Next, move the board so it is front on to the pipe and draw a line to mark where the centre of the pipe is. Where the two lines intersect is where the centre of the pipe will be positioned.
Secure the board with clamps and use a drill and 32mm flat wood drill bit to drill a hole where the two lines intersect.
Using a straight edge, draw a pair of lines from the edges of the hole to the edge of the board, each at a slight outward angle. Cut along these lines with a jigsaw or panel saw to create a wedge-shaped offcut.
Fit the board into position then apply grab adhesive to the contact areas of the offcut to hold in place between the pipe and the wall. Trim the profile with a chisel if need be. Hide the expansion gap with a pipe surround and secure as per manufacturer's instructions.
Fitting a threshold bar
Be sure to choose a threshold bar that is suitable for your flooring. Carefully measure the width of the door frame, allowing for a 10-12mm expansion gap on both sides. Then cut the threshold bar to size.
If the threshold bar needs to be cut to shape to sit flush with the frame, carefully mark out notches at either end and cut with a hacksaw. Secure the threshold bar in place as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Before you refit the door, it’s likely you will need to slightly trim the bottom of the door to accommodate the height of the threshold, board and underlay.
Fitting skirting or flooring trim
If you removed the original skirting, and it is thick enough to cover the expansion gap, reinstall it now. Alternatively, remove all the spacers, trim down any membrane to just below laminate height, then measure the lengths of flooring trim you need.
Use a mitre box and handsaw to make 45° angles cuts at the ends that will join in the corners.
Use grab adhesive to fix the flooring trim to the skirting. If necessary, you can hold the trim in place with panel pins whilst the adhesive dries. Do not fix the trim to the laminate floor as this will prevent expansion.