How Much to Install Laminate Flooring in Your Home: A Comprehensive Guide

How Much to Install Laminate Flooring: Essential Things to Know

Dec 05, 2023
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If you're a homeowner looking to enhance the aesthetics and functionality of your space, laminate flooring can be a cost-effective and attractive option. However, before diving into the project, it's essential to understand the factors influencing the installation costs.

In this guide, we'll provide you with an overview of how much to install laminate flooring and some useful tips to ensure a successful and budget-friendly project.

What You Will Learn:

  • Average cost of laminate flooring installation
  • DIY laminate flooring installation guide
  • FAQs about laminate flooring installation

Laminate flooring is the favorite choice of many homeowners nowadays

Laminate flooring is the favorite choice of many homeowners nowadays

1. Average Cost of Laminate Flooring Installation

Before finding out how much to install laminate flooring, it's essential to have a clear understanding of the costs involved. This section will provide you with valuable insights into the average cost and additional expenses associated with the installation process.

1.1. Average Cost

The average cost of installing laminate flooring can vary based on factors such as the size of the area, the quality of the materials, and the region where you live. The price can also be different depending on the style you choose (maple, oak, stone, tile, etc.) and the thickness of the laminate planks.

On average, homeowners can expect to spend around $5 to $12 per square foot for both materials and installation. If you do the installation yourself, the cost will be around $1 to $4 per square foot.

It means that installation costs will be between $500 and $1,200 for a 100-square-foot space. Now, let’s move on to additional costs that you may need to consider before installing new laminate flooring.

1.2. Additional Cost

Apart from the basic installation cost, there are some additional expenses to consider, as below:

Plank Finish

If you opt for premium finishes or textures on your laminate planks, the cost may increase slightly. Standard finishes are more budget-friendly, while high-end options can add to the overall expense.

Laminate flooring planks come in different finishes, including matte, semi-matte, and glossy. Each finish offers unique characteristics that can impact the overall look and durability of the flooring.

Matte finishes are ideal for creating a rustic and natural appearance. However, they are more susceptible to showing scratches and dirt, which may require regular maintenance.

On the other hand, glossy finishes have a more polished and modern appeal. They are better at concealing small scratches and dents, but larger damages may be more noticeable and affect the appearance of the finish.

Then, the most popular choice is…

For a balanced option, many homeowners prefer satin or semi-matte finishes. These finishes strike a middle ground, offering a popular and cost-effective choice that combines a stylish look with reasonable resistance to scratches and wear.

When considering the finish for your laminate flooring, it's essential to weigh the aesthetics and maintenance requirements to find the best fit for your home and lifestyle.

Typical price ranges for laminate flooring finishes are as follows:

  • Matte: $1.00–$4.40 per square foot
  • Semi-matte: $1.00–$3.80 per square foot
  • Glossy: $1.70–$5.60 per square foot

The cost of installation may vary depending on the style, thickness, and quality of the materials

The cost of installation may vary depending on the style, thickness, and quality of the materials

Remove Old Flooring

If you have existing flooring that needs to be removed before installing laminate, expect to incur extra costs for the demolition and disposal of the old materials. It usually costs you about $50–$70 per hour for professional service.

Underlayment

Underlayment is an important layer that provides support and cushioning for your laminate flooring. While it enhances performance and durability, it also comes with additional costs.

Subfloor Replacement or Repair

If the subfloor shows signs of water damage or is uneven, necessary repairs or replacement are essential. Repairing or replacing a damaged subfloor can incur additional costs ranging from $1.50 to $7.00 per square foot, depending on the extent of the damage and the materials needed for restoration.

Cost of Labor

The labor cost for installing laminate flooring typically ranges from $4 to $8 per square foot and can vary based on the complexity of the project. Thinner laminate options tend to be pricier to install as they require more careful application and often necessitate subfloor leveling and the use of underlayment.

Additionally, certain factors can increase the labor cost further, such as gluing or nailing down the laminate, installing it in irregularly shaped areas, or tackling stair installations. Essentially, any element that adds complexity to the job will contribute to higher labor expenses.

It's essential to consider these factors when budgeting for your laminate flooring installation to ensure accurate cost estimates and a successful and smooth flooring project.

2. DIY Laminate Flooring Installation Guide

For homeowners who want to save on labor costs, installing laminate flooring as a DIY project can be a rewarding endeavor. In this section, we'll take you through the essential steps and tools required to successfully install laminate flooring on your own.

2.1. Tools and Equipment

Before you begin, gather the following tools and equipment:

  • Measuring tape
  • Underlayment
  • Laminate flooring
  • Spacers
  • Saw (circular or miter)
  • Hammer
  • Tapping block
  • Pull bar
  • Utility knife

You need to prepare some tools if you decide to install the laminate flooring by yourself

You need to prepare some tools if you decide to install the laminate flooring by yourself

2.2. How to Install Laminate Flooring (Step-by-step Guide)

This is not as difficult as you might think. Most homeowners can finish this laminate flooring installation in a weekend. Below is a very detailed guide so that you can follow it easily:

Step 1: Acclimate Your Laminate Planks and Prepare the Subfloor

Before commencing the installation, it is essential to allow the laminate planks to acclimate to the room's conditions. Lay out the planks in the designated installation area and let them rest for a minimum of 48 hours. This acclimation period allows the planks to adjust to the room's temperature and moisture levels, ensuring a more stable and secure installation.

Next, prepare the subfloor to ensure a suitable foundation for your laminate flooring. Ensure the subfloor is clean, smooth, and level. In some cases, you may be able to install laminate over existing floor coverings like sheet vinyl, provided it meets specific criteria, including being flat, smooth, and not too soft.

Before proceeding, sweep or vacuum any debris from the subfloor. For concrete basement flooring, address any chips or imperfections with a suitable patching compound. For wood subfloors, remove any loose nails, patch cracks, and sand uneven areas.

Additionally, if any planks are damaged, consider replacing them before installing the new laminate flooring for optimal results. So, don’t forget to count this cost when calculating “how much to install laminate flooring”.

Step 2: Install The Underlayment

It is crucial to lay down the underlayment. This thin and dense foam serves multiple purposes, such as sound absorption and insulation to make your floors warmer. Note that some laminate floors come with built-in underlayment, in which case you can skip this step.

If your chosen laminate flooring does not have its underlayment, begin by rolling out two rows of underlayment across the floor. Trim the pieces using a utility knife to fit the width of the room, ensuring a proper fit. Use tape or underlayment adhesive to secure the adjacent pieces together seamlessly.

When laying the sheets of underlayment side by side, avoid overlapping them to prevent the sheets from stacking on top of each other. This precaution prevents the formation of bumps on uneven sections of your floors.

For rooms with high moisture levels, like basements or kitchens, it is advisable to install a vapor barrier before placing the underlayment. This extra layer of protection helps safeguard your laminate flooring from potential moisture-related issues, ensuring a durable and long-lasting installation.

It is crucial to lay down the underlayment for the laminate

It is crucial to lay down the underlayment for the laminate 

Step 3: Lay Your Laminate Planks

Start with the First Row of Laminate

Begin by choosing the wall against which you will start the laminate flooring installation. Typically, it's best to begin applying the flooring against the longest wall for a balanced look. However, if there's a prominent focal point in the room, like a fireplace or large windows, you may opt to start the flooring parallel to that wall.

Position the first row of planks with the tongue side facing the wall. You can leave the tongues intact, as the baseboard will cover the edges of the first and last rows. Secure the planks by inserting the groove of the next piece into place and pressing down to snap it securely.

Maintain a gap of ¼ to ½ inch from the wall using spacers to allow the flooring to expand and contract naturally over time. Continue laying planks until you reach the last one in the row, making the necessary cuts to fit the final piece and ensuring an appropriate expansion gap.

Continue with the Next Planks

To start the second and subsequent rows, use a plank that is either longer or shorter than the first plank in the initial row. Utilize the portion that was cut from the last piece in the first row. Staggering the seams in each row not only enhances the installation's stability but also creates an appealing visual pattern.

When installing the subsequent rows, you may need to wiggle the planks slightly to fit them into the groove and snap them into place securely. Manufacturers often recommend using a tapping block or a pull bar to ensure a tight fit with no gaps between the planks.

For the final row, you may need to trim the planks' width to accommodate the tight space. When installing the last row, place the planks at an angle to fit them smoothly into position. With proper alignment and attention to detail, you can achieve professionally installed laminate flooring with an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

DIY vs. Professional Laminate Flooring Installation

Both approaches have their advantages and drawbacks, so your decision should be based on your budget and comfort level with standard power tools. Laminate flooring installation falls somewhere in the intermediate difficulty range, but for most homeowners, it can be a manageable project to tackle.

If you choose the DIY route, be prepared to invest a few hours of your time and ensure you have the right equipment for a successful and sturdy installation. The process is considered a dry installation, meaning you won't need to use grout or mortar during the flooring installation.

However, if you lack experience in home renovation projects or don't already possess the necessary tools, enlisting the expertise of professional contractors might be a wise choice. They come equipped with all the materials and tools required to complete the job efficiently and to a high standard.

Ultimately, whether you opt for a DIY approach or professional installation depends on your confidence in your skills and resources. Both options can lead to beautiful laminate flooring, so choose the one that aligns best with your preferences and circumstances.

Installation of laminate flooring is not very difficult and you can do it yourself to save the budget

Installation of laminate flooring is not very difficult and you can do it yourself to save the budget

Conclusion

By understanding the average cost and additional expenses of installing laminate flooring, you can make informed decisions for your renovation projects. For those looking to save on costs, the DIY installation guide provides step-by-step instructions and essential tools for a successful outcome.

Addressing common FAQs ensures that you can proceed with confidence, knowing they are making the right choices for their laminate flooring installation. Remember to plan carefully, adhere to manufacturer guidelines, and enjoy the rewarding experience of transforming your space with beautiful and budget-friendly laminate flooring.

Final tip:

Taking care of laminate flooring is essential to maintaining its beauty and durability over time. Using the best mop for laminate floors and the right cleaning technique is crucial to preventing damage and keeping your laminate looking its best. 

I highly recommend you buy a microfiber mop for regular maintenance. Microfiber mops are gentle on the surface and effectively trap dirt and debris without scratching the laminate. You can keep your laminate flooring in top condition, ensuring it stays beautiful and resilient for years to come.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • 01. Can laminate flooring be installed over other types of flooring?
  • Yes, in most cases, laminate flooring can be installed over other types of flooring, such as vinyl, linoleum, or hardwood. However, it is crucial to ensure that the existing floor is in good condition, clean, and level to achieve the best results.

  • 02. Does laminate flooring need to acclimate?
  • Yes, it is essential to acclimate laminate flooring before installation. Allowing the laminate planks to rest in the room where they will be installed for at least 48 hours allows them to adjust to the room's temperature and humidity conditions. This acclimation process ensures a more stable and successful installation, reducing the risk of issues such as warping or buckling over time.

  • 03. Is it cheaper to install carpet instead of laminate flooring?
  • Generally, laminate flooring tends to be more cost-effective than installing carpet. Laminate offers a durable, low-maintenance option with a wide range of styles, making it an attractive and budget-friendly flooring choice.

  • 04. How long do laminate floors need to sit before being installed?
  • Before installation, allow the laminate planks to acclimate in the room where they will be installed for at least 48 hours. This helps the planks adjust to the room's temperature and humidity, minimizing the risk of expansion or contraction issues later on.

  • 05. Does laminate flooring need an expansion gap?
  • Yes, laminate flooring requires an expansion gap around the perimeter of the room to accommodate natural expansion and contraction due to temperature and humidity changes. The recommended gap is usually around 1/4 to 1/2 inch.

    Most homeowners can finish the laminate installation in a weekend.

    Most homeowners can finish the laminate installation in a weekend

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