Tricks for installing laminate

This has been the most challenging laminate floor I’ve installed, with several tricky parts, but so far I’ve been successful in figuring out how to deal with them. One of the very first challenges was the bracket holding this cedar column to the floor.


I cut a piece of flooring to fit around the column, cut a notch on the edge for the upright part of the bracket, and hollowed underneath for the horizontal part by dragging the piece crosswise under the miter saw. Photo2003

It worked pretty well, as you can see here. The wood lies flat on the floor and fits snugly to the column. Note that by having the finish edge of the right end flush with the column, I can go on from there with a whole piece. I could have notched the middle of a whole piece to go around the column, but it would have been trickier dealing with the bracket and the narrow strip would be very fragile.


Doorways pose other problems. The first thing to do is cut off the bottom of the trim on each side with a flush cut saw, after flipping over a piece of flooring to use as a spacer.


On the other side of this double pocket-door, I notched around the wall. Here it’s not as easy to do that, because there isn’t room to back in the snap-lock connection. So I used the same strategy as with the column and brought one piece up flush to the edge of the door (on the right). I trimmed off most of the interlocking lip and left enough to slide into the space between the door and the flooring. I also shaved the raised bead off the lip because we won’t be able to interlock here, just overlap.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI cut an L-shaped piece that will slide under the casing and connect with the piece on the right. I also ran glue along the lip on the right so that the two pieces will have a permanent connection. To tap the piece into position, I created a tapping block from a scrap of flooring. It has a male edge so that it will interlock with the female edge instead of damaging it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Whoops… my cut is too short! Gotta tap the piece back out and run to the saw again.


There we go. That’s close enough. There are a couple of flaws in the finish where it chipped, but I’ll drip a little wood stain on them and no one will notice.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy the other end column, we have this doorway and threshold to deal with. As you can see, I used the same strategy with the column, cutting a piece to come out flush. It would look classier not to have two cut edges together, but most people won’t notice that.

To deal with the doorway, I cut another L-shaped piece to tap under the casing. I made it just narrower than the door, so I could interlock it and then slide it up to the column.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The threshold is curved, so I made the cut beveled to match. Most circular saws and table saws have an angle adjustment. I used my circular saw because my table saw is hard to adjust.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It came out as close to perfect as you could want. Man, I love being my age! I have skills!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On the left side of the doorway, we have a similar problem, but we can’t slide the piece in from the left because it gets wider at the doorway. So I decided to try sliding the piece straight in and working it back to see if I can get it to interlock. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It slid in easily enough. The size is perfect. (Man, I’m good!)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To pry it back into its notch, I used a prybar. The left side went in easily.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The right side was trickier; remember that beveled edge? Yeah. But I pulled and tapped on the prybar and sort of got the edges to interlock.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the middle, the floor had slipped under the Sheetrock, so I used a narrow chisel to grip the edge and lever it back. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Good enough. You can see that the seam hasn’t closed completely; there’s a line of yellow where it should be all black. But I don’t think it’s likely to separate, wedged in as it is. I may go back to it and see if I can get it tighter when I do the baseboards. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Another big challenge will be this little semicircle on the bottom step. Cutting the flooring around it won’t be that tough, but when I put flooring on the staircase, I’ll have to get really creative.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When I pulled the carpet off, the padding made it look like one of those weird pulled taffy candies.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The edges are lined with tack strips. I hate those things! They always stab me when I’m working with them. I pried them off with a chisel.

Somehow I need to figure out how to cover this thing with laminate flooring and tile. When I do, I’ll post about it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


12 thoughts on “Tricks for installing laminate

  1. RuthG says:

    Tim, I can’t figure out what your technical terms mean in most cases, but I can see the challenges & how beautifully you have solved these problems. You do have skills–I bow in humble admiration!

  2. I would probably just take out that circular bit. What use does it have, other than decorative? I like clean lines, so something circular impedes that to me. I will be watching to see what you come up with :).

  3. That was some fancy tool work Tim. Great job! I thought I was going to have to pull up and redo some laminate flooring but it seems to be going back to normal. I had a peaking problem. I’m not sure what caused it after all this time. I’ll be keeping an eye on that area.

  4. Wow, you are creative and imaginitive! I have installed self-stick vinyl tiles in two bathrooms, and have wasted quite a few when trying to cut around things! I hope that whoever gets your house appreciates your craftsmanship.

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