Tag Archive for: laminate flooring installation

You’ve selected your high-quality laminate flooring in roasted mocha — just the right hue to perfectly complement the ivory and caramel color scheme of your home. Now it’s sitting in your house waiting to be installed and the one question you never previously considered suddenly rears its head: which way should you lay your laminate flooring? 

Find out right here, in addition to the essential pointers you need to be aware of when installing your brand new floors to ensure you get to feel thoroughly satisfied with your gleaming surfaces at the end of it all.

A Question of Preference

While many tips and pointers exist which can help you make your floors appear especially alluring, the truth is that you should be guided by personal preference in terms of the direction in which your laminate surfaces should be installed. This is because this effect is purely esthetical and is subjective as a result, as opposed to a procedure that must often be followed as required.

Choosing the Right Direction to Lay Your Laminate Flooring

When laying your flooring, factoring in the direction of the lighting and the dimensions of your rooms can actually make the areas in question appear brighter and larger or longer.

These tips show you how:

1. Take Note of the Shape of the Space

Rectangular spaces: If an area happens to be rectangular, installing your floors parallel to the longest wall can make the space appear wider.

This principle is also followed when installing laminate planks in hallways and the effect serves to attract the gaze straight ahead so the focus is on the length of the space.

Paler or lighter flooring planks and even walls can enhance the effect further.

Conversely, installing your floor parallel to the shortest wall may make it appear smaller.

Extremely small spaces: If an area happens to be especially small, placing your floor planks diagonally will attract attention to the corners. It will also create longer lines and enhance the spaciousness of the area.

Placing planks diagonally also ensures a seamless transition between two areas, such as the lounge and your study, for example.

2. Follow the Direction of Natural Light

Our gaze tends to be attracted to light and to follow its path as well. As a result, laying your laminate flooring at right angles to the main source of a room’s natural light can make it seem larger, brighter, and airier.

What if you happen to have multiple points of entry for natural light? Simply install it according to your own design preferences.

3. Pay Attention to Entrances and Focal Points

Placing laminate floor planks at right angles to the point of entry of a room will ensure the gaze of anyone who comes in will naturally follow them. This has the effect of making an area appear more spacious.

Focal points such as artwork, bold wallpaper, TV consoles, and fireplaces, should also be taken into account and it is best to install your planks at right angles to them as well. This is because doing so will naturally direct the gaze to your room’s defining feature.

4. Ensure Uniform Installation

When installing your laminate flooring, ensuring the planks follow the same direction throughout your home can serve to provide a sense of uniformity.

This especially holds true if you have an open-plan home.

Laying the flooring parallel to the longest wall of the house is the best option to draw the gaze of the occupants longitudinally, making any space they are in seem larger as a result.


Why should I stagger laminate planks?

Staggering your laminate flooring will make it more structurally sound since the end joints will be more stable and less likely to separate. It will also enhance the aesthetic appeal of the entire surface.

Manufacturers recommend staggering your planks by a measurement of between 6 – 12 inches.

Are there any differences between installing laminate flooring diagonally and doing so horizontally or vertically?

Yes, there is. Installing planks diagonally is rather difficult compared to the other two standard directions. 

The procedure requires taking careful measurements before the actual installation process can begin. What’s more, the first planks must be placed at the center of the room as opposed to being placed against a wall.

The diagonal installation will also require a degree of skill and professional assistance may be required.

It is also worth noting that doing so will result in a higher proportion of unusable cut-offs and is likely to involve more waste as a result. 

How can I work out how much laminate to purchase?

Simply measure the length and breadth of the room you wish to install the flooring in and multiply the figures you obtain to work out the area of the total flooring surface. Next, add 10% of that figure to allow for wastage.  (This percentage should be increased to 15% if you intend to install your floors diagonally.)

Can I install laminate planks over an existing flooring surface?

Yes, you can as long as the existing surface is hard, flat, smooth, and in excellent condition. 

Suitable examples include: concrete, cork, ceramic tile, marble, linoleum, porcelain tile, sheet vinyl, and solid hardwood.

Unsuitable examples include: brick, carpeting, and engineered hardwood.

What is underlayment and why is it necessary for laminate flooring?

Underlayment is a thin layer that serves to smooth out any irregularities in the subfloor, provide enhanced stability to the laminate planks, and also provide additional sound, heat, and moisture insulation.

It varies depending on the type of flooring: underlayment for laminate surfaces often consists of closed-cell foam or layers of cork with a thickness that typically ranges between 6 – 8 mm. 

Certain varieties of laminate flooring come with underlayment and if the planks you have purchased belong in this category, you will have to avoid laying underlayment before installing them since doing so may actually void your warranty.

Is it a good idea to install laminate flooring on top of carpet? The answer is no, except maybe in a few special cases.

It can be really tempting to just place a new floor on top of the old flooring material. Think of the time and mess you could save by not tearing out the old flooring.

Some types of flooring lend themselves to this method, like ceramic tile. Unfortunately, leaving old carpet down when you install a laminate floor on top is just not a good idea.

This article will explain why you should avoid this, and also point out the few situations in which it might be okay. 

Why Shouldn’t You Install Laminate Over Carpet?

The main reason is stability. Laminate is meant to be used with a thin underlayment that provides very little cushion. Most types of carpets are too thick and soft. This can cause the laminate to separate at its delicate tongue-and-groove joints, especially if you put heavy furniture on top. Laminate flooring is a big expense, and it’s not worth damaging the floor (or voiding your warranty) just to avoid removing the carpet first. 

When is it Okay to Install Laminate Flooring Over Carpet?

There is really only one type of carpet that might not cause problems underneath your laminate flooring. That is a low-pile, glue-down carpet.

This type of carpet is what you see in hotels, theaters, and other commercial buildings. It’s quite flat and not very soft. The fibers must be shorter than a ¼ inch. Any longer than that would be too unstable for laminate flooring.

If you are trying to put new flooring in a commercial building without tearing out the carpet, and it is of this short, very firm variety, it’s possible that it will be an okay underlayment for laminate.

This is never really recommended, and will always be a second-best option to removing the carpeting first.

Interestingly, this type of carpet can be one of the most difficult to tear out due to the glue which usually needs to be scraped off by hand using a wide razor blade. So you might be making a valuable trade, especially if you are short on time to get the floor replaced.

Can You Put Laminate On Top of Carpet Tiles?

Carpet tiles are usually a rolled-pile carpet with fibers that are about ¼ inch long. This type of flooring is glued to the subfloor and used in many offices and shops. It’s similar to wall-to-wall berber carpets (if they are glued down) because it is moderately firm and has a relatively short pile.

Carpet tiles and berber carpets are still too soft to leave under laminate flooring. They will just create too much flexing and bending of the floor.

The worst that can happen here is that when you move furniture into the room after the new flooring is installed, the weight of the furniture can damage the tongue-and-groove locking system on the laminate. This could create chipped edges on the finish or cause boards to pull apart from one another. It could even separate rows completely.

If you still decide to install laminate flooring over a carpet like this because you really think it’s firm enough, you need to do a perfect job of staggering the laminate flooring. A good staggering technique will create a lot of strength for your floor and hopefully protect you from damage.

These types of carpet are moderately difficult to remove and will require some scraping of glue with a razor scraper. It will be a trade-off but the peace of mind is worth it, knowing that your new floor will last longer.

Can You Install Laminate Over Plush Carpet?

We seriously recommend that you never, ever try to install laminate flooring over top of high-pile plush carpet.

This is the most common type of carpeting in homes because it’s soft and comfortable. That’s exactly what makes it so bad if it’s under laminate flooring. 

You will almost certainly experience failure of the laminate floor if it is installed over plush carpet. There will be way too much room for the boards to flex and break. You might not even be able to install the whole floor properly in the first place.

The right thing to do is tear out the carpet and any padding (underlayment) that you find underneath it. This is one of the easier flooring materials to tear out. It will require some muscles and usually a few minutes of light scraping to get rid of staples or old padding.

A laminate floor installed on top of a clean wood or concrete subfloor should last for many years.

Can You Install Laminate Over Carpet Padding?

For the same reasons listed above, you should not install laminate on top of the padded underlayment that you find beneath plush carpet.

Not only is this stuff too soft, it’s usually made of recycled foam and fabric and contains some very firm pieces of material. These will make the laminate floor uneven as well as unstable.

Just go all the way down to the concrete or wood subfloor and start fresh with a firm, level surface for your laminate flooring.

How to Remove Carpet to Install Laminate Flooring

  1. If the carpet is wall-to-wall, use a pair of pliers to pull up and untuck the edges (near the walls). It is usually attached to tackstrip and tucked under the trim on the wall.
  2. Use a sharp razor knife to cut through large sections of carpet into manageable pieces that you can roll and carry.
  3. Remove carpet by rolling it neatly with the fiber side in (to contain dirt) and securing the rolls with tape.
  4. To remove carpet that is glued directly to the subfloor, pull at a low angle to peel the carpet up, and use a long-handled scraper if it’s really hard to remove.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 as needed for any padding under the carpet.
  6. Remove any tack strip by using a large pry bar and hammer (wear gloves to protect your hands from the tacks).
  7. Take old carpet out to throw away.
  8. Scrape up any remaining staples or scraps.
  9. Sweep and vacuum the subfloor to prepare for laminate underlayment and flooring.

Laminate flooring is a popular flooring option because it offers the warmth and beauty of wood flooring, but it’s cheaper and easier to work with. It’s a floating floor, which means you can lay it down on top of a variety of subfloor materials. But can you install laminate flooring over tile? Yes!

You have a lot of options when you update the flooring in a house, and one of them is whether you can skip grueling tearout work and just put new flooring over the old. Tile floors are one of the hardest to remove yourself. Picture chipping away with a heavy chisel and hammer to clear your floor one small chunk at a time. If you can skip that, why wouldn’t you?

If you want to know how to install a laminate floor over old ceramic tiles, you just might be in luck. This article will tell you the factors to think about before you get started to ensure you have a successful install. 

Can you install laminate over an old tile floor? The answer is yes, but you need to make sure the tiles are still in good shape and the floor is level. Also, check that you won’t be adding too much thickness to the floor and ruining doorways or transitions. Finally, use a good underlayment to protect the floor from moisture and squeaks.

What to Consider Before Installing Laminate Floors Over Tile

Installing laminate over tile isn’t the right move 100% of the time. Pay attention to the following to make sure it’s going to work out:

Condition of the Tile Floor

Laminate floors need to go on top of a sturdy and clean subfloor surface. Tile floors are usually good for this because they’re strong and durable. Sometimes if tile floors were installed badly or they are really old, they can crumble and break.

Don’t try to install a floating laminate floor on top of broken tiles. A chip here and there can be ok, but if there are whole pieces of tile missing or the grout is turning to dust, you risk the laminate floor coming apart later because it won’t be supported from below.

Leveling the Floor

It’s also important that laminate flooring goes down on top of a very level subfloor. There should be minimal difference in floor height. A good rule is less than ¼ inch variation across a six-foot span. You can test this with a long metal level or straightedge. If the level rocks back and forth, or if there is a gap between the middle of the level and the floor, that section of floor is not level.

If the floor has a big slope or especially if the tiles are badly uneven, you need to level it up first. You can use a concrete patch mix and a six- or twelve-inch metal putty knife to level up the low spots. You can also consider a thin self-leveling mix, but you need to make sure the floor is watertight for this. It’s also more expensive than concrete patch mix.

Floor leveling mixes contain water, which can create a humidity issue if you install the flooring over top too soon. Use a big fan and give the leveling material several days to dry completely.

Added Height of the Floor

This really comes into play in two situations: doorways and transitions.

Doors usually have just a small gap between the floor and the bottom of the door. This gap isn’t always big enough to add a new layer of flooring without interfering with the swing of the door. 

The easiest way to test this out is to take a plank of the new flooring along with a scrap of whatever type of underlayment you will install, stack them on top of each other, and slide them under the door. Remember to test the door not just when it’s closed, but also when the door is at its fully open position — and everywhere in between.

If the door opens and closes with some space left over when you perform this test, you’re good. If not, you need to either saw some length off of the bottom of the door or remove the whole tile floor first.

If your ceilings or doors are already short or if you have really tall people living in the house, you should probably remove the tile rather than adding to the height with new laminate on top.

As for transitions, the important thing is to make sure you have a plan for how to transition the new, higher floor to existing thresholds or places where the tile currently meets another type of flooring.

For example, you may need to install a trim or transition piece. These usually need to be glued or nailed to the subfloor (below the tile), so you might need to cut the neighboring flooring back slightly. Transitions are different in every house. It’s just important to figure out how you will complete them ahead of time so you can order the right materials and you end up with a nice finished product. 


Underlayment is a foam or paper material that you roll out and seal across the whole surface of the room between the subfloor and the laminate. It helps dissipate the noise of footsteps on the laminate (really important if you’re installing over tile), creates a moisture barrier, and helps the flooring to float freely.

The flooring manufacturer will usually tell you what kind of underlayment to use. You may find one that’s specifically for use on concrete or tile subfloors. A little bit thicker one will help with minor variation in flatness. There are lots of choices, so pick one that seems to fit your purposes and make sure to install it according to the instructions.

Potential Problems of Installing Laminate Over Tile

Watch out for these issues that people run into when they install laminate over tile floors. There is usually something you can do to prevent them if you see the warning signs, so study up:

Excess Moisture

Laminate floors are sensitive to moist environments. They can cause the flooring to expand or contract too much and pull apart the locking tongue-and-groove system. With a lot of water, it can get really ugly with warping, cupping, or buckling.

Tile floors, on the other hand, do great in humid or even wet environments like kitchens, basements, and laundry rooms. If your laminate is going into a room like this, you might want to get a moisture meter and test to make sure the room is pretty dry. If there is a drain in the floor or if water regularly drips onto the tile, you need to correct these issues before you install the laminate floor. Laminate won’t hold up under wet conditions.

Underlayment can go a long way to protect the laminate from excess moisture. You may even think about painting the floor with a moisture-barrier paint before you roll out the underlayment.

Uneven Tile

Uneven subfloors can cause all kinds of problems for your laminate floor. Minor problems include a clicking, creaking, or hollow sound when the floorboards flex underfoot. More serious problems can be buckling laminate floorboards that separate from one another and leave you with ugly gaps in your laminate flooring.

Your subfloor (in this case tile) must be as flat and level as possible. The instructions above on leveling the floor can help, but they can only do so much. Be wise and don’t risk your new laminate flooring by installing it on a shoddy and uneven tile surface.

Debris Under the Flooring

This goes for all flooring installations, but especially for laminate over a hard subfloor like tile: clean everything!

Even if your tile floor is flat and level, a small rock or chunk of grout that sticks up can cause all the problems of a majorly uneven floor. Take the time to sweep two or more times and preferably run a vacuum with a hose over the entire floor.

If the tile is messy with grout or other construction materials stuck on, take a metal putty knife and scrape them off. Get the flooring clean before you do anything else.

Staggering is one of the most important parts of installing a new laminate floor. If you do it right, it will make your whole space look just as beautiful as the showroom or catalog that made you choose laminate flooring in the first place.

Good staggering technique will make the wood-patterned laminate finish shine and look absolutely beautiful. But staggering your flooring isn’t just a cosmetic choice, it’s also where all the floor’s stability comes from.

You’ve probably walked on a laminate floor that had unattractive gaps between the laminate floorboards or other signs of the floor just not “fitting” together. The majority of the time, these problems come from not staggering the flooring right when you install it.

If you want a smooth, elegant laminate floor that’s going to last for many years, you need to know what you’re doing when it comes to staggering. The good news is it’s not too complicated – this guide will tell you everything you need to know from how much to stagger your laminate flooring boards to what patterns you must avoid, and more.

How Much Should You Stagger Laminate Flooring?

Whenever you are installing laminate flooring, the most important rule is to read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow what they say. Almost all brands and types of laminate need to overlap by at least 6 inches. Some will give a range, like 6 to 12 inches. Even if there is a range, you can overlap the boards by more than that, but never less.

What does an overlap or stagger mean? It means that when you lay a row of laminate lengthwise in the room, you offset the joints between planks from the joints in the previous row. You control the offset by cutting the first board in the row (your starter board) to be at least 6 inches longer or shorter than the starter board on the adjacent row.

You should follow this process on every new row of laminate flooring. While the adjacent rows are the most important, you should also look at the joints 2 and 3 rows away. If you look at any section of flooring (4 or 5 rows), no 2 seams in that section should line up exactly.

The Best Pattern to Stagger Laminate Flooring

What’s the best pattern you can use when staggering laminate? The answer is that you should avoid creating a pattern at all. This is called a randomized stagger.

randomized staggering pattern

A random stagger doesn’t just happen by chance, though. You really need to pay attention to each & every new row to make sure it’s different from the 2 or 3 rows before it. If any seams line up too closely, they will catch your eye from across the room.

Installing the flooring with a randomized pattern will keep your eye from focusing on the seams in between individual boards. Instead, you and your guests will notice the wood pattern on the laminate. The goal is to make the material pop by removing distracting patterns.

Avoid These Common Staggering Pattern Mistakes

You need to achieve a certain level of balance for a strong and beautiful laminate floor. If you don’t stagger the flooring by more than 6 inches on every row, it will be unstable and may lead to damage later on. But on the other hand, a lot of flooring installers get a little too strict when they stagger their flooring.

If you cut all your starter boards to the same length (full board, half board, and repeat) or if you cut them all to regular lengths (6-inches, 12-inches, 18-inches, 24-inches, and repeat), you will create a pattern that sticks out to anyone who looks at the floor.

If you’re the kind of person who really craves an orderly look and a rigid pattern, you can go for one of the staggering patterns I’m about to describe.

But I warn you, in my experience, it always looks better to choose a randomized stagger pattern because the flooring itself is more beautiful than the seams. The brain loves patterns, and if you install your laminate with one of these patterns, it will be the only thing you can see when you look at your new floor. 


This is the pattern you will create if you alternate starting boards of full length and half-length. Some installers will use this technique to save time. It’s very easy to tell which length you should use to start each row because you only have two options. It’s also strong because rows will overlap consistently. 

The problem is that when you stand up and look at the floor, you will see the seams skipping every other row, looking like two dotted lines across the whole room. The eye and the brain are so good at seeing patterns like this, it will be the first thing you notice every time you see the floor.

Again, it’s not technically wrong to install the floor this way. Professionals do it all the time. If you really like the look, go for it. But remember, patterns like this one take the focus off of the beautiful wood finish you chose and paid for. Randomized staggering will put the focus back on the laminate itself.


Stair Step Pattern

This is the other common mistake you see in laminate flooring all the time. Installers create a stair-step pattern when they use starter boards of several regular lengths and lay them in a repeating order. The first starter may be 6 inches, the next one 12 inches, the next one 18 inches, and so on.

It’s a little more complex and varied than the H-Pattern, but it also creates a strong pattern that will catch the eye every time. It sounds like a strong pattern at first because every row is staggered by a regular amount. However, the regular offset actually creates diagonal seams across the room in a stair step pattern. These can be a weak point across multiple rows. This doesn’t stop professionals from using this method all the time. It’s fast and easy, but you pay for it in quality later on.

Again, it’s not technically wrong to install the flooring this way. If you really like the look, you can choose to stagger your laminate in a stair step pattern. But remember, patterns like this one take the focus off of the beautiful wood finish you chose and paid for. Randomized staggering will put the focus back on the laminate itself.

stair step staggered patten

How to Stagger Laminate Flooring

If you like putting together jigsaw puzzles, you just might like installing laminate flooring. The boards usually click together and it’s fun to watch your progress. To set yourself up for a beautiful staggered laminate floor, keep in mind that prep work and planning ahead are essential.

Prepare the Room for Flooring

To get a room ready for laminate flooring, you usually need to tear out any old flooring material that was down before (unless you plan to install over laminate on top of another hard floor, like vinyl or tile). 

Make sure not to miss any staples or nails because even small bumps on the subfloor can affect your finished product.

You should also check the subfloor to make sure it is relatively flat and level. If your subfloor is made of wood and in bad shape, you may need to install a layer of ¼-inch plywood on the whole floor to make it smooth and strong. If it’s a concrete floor, make sure that it’s completely dry and has the right moisture content.

Acclimate Your Laminate Flooring

You must put your flooring material in the room 24-72 hours before you start installing it so that it can adjust to the humidity and temperature of the house. Acclimating prevents problems later on like buckling or bubbling in your laminate floors. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for acclimating your laminate so that you can qualify for any warranties.

Our guide to acclimating laminate flooring can tell you everything you need to know.

Use Underlayment

Follow your flooring manufacturer’s recommendations for what type of underlayment to buy. This is a layer of thin foam, paper, or plastic that creates a moisture barrier to protect your flooring from excess humidity. It also helps cushion the flooring to avoid squeaks or hollow sounds when you step.

Cover the whole subfloor with underlayment according to the instructions.

Cut Several Starter Boards

To begin your laminate flooring stagger, use a laminate cutter or chop saw to cut 5 or 6 laminate boards to various lengths. You can use the one end as starters for 5 or 6 rows, and the other end of the boards will be used on the opposite wall to finish your rows (you will probably need to trim these finish boards later).

Laying the Laminate Flooring

Remember that laminate needs an “expansion gap” between the edge of the flooring and any walls, cabinets, or other obstructions. It’s usually ½ an inch. Be careful to leave this gap all around the flooring. If you need to, use plastic spacers.

Lay one of your precut starter boards near the wall in one corner, and continue laying whole boards end to end down the room until you can’t lay any more whole boards in the row. You can then measure and cut the last board to fit.

Now move to your next row. Look at the starter board of your last row and at the other starter boards you cut earlier. Choose one that is at least six inches longer or shorter than the previous row’s starter board.

You may want to lay out several starter boards down one wall and compare their lengths. Are they all at least 6 inches longer or shorter than the row adjacent? Are you avoiding H-patterns and stair-step patterns? You need to constantly look for these patterns in order to avoid them — it’s easy to create them by accident.

I like to lay out 3 rows in front of me without locking them together. Then, I stand up and look at the flooring from far away to make sure that the seams look random and don’t create any type of obvious pattern. When everything looks good, you can go in and quickly snap the rows together.

If you have difficulty locking the planks together, you might need a plastic or wooden block to tap the tongues into place.

Staggering the Laminate Flooring

As you install your flooring, just remember to stand up often and look at the floor from a distance.

Look at the seams. If any of them are creating visual patterns by being too close together or because you created a stair step or H-pattern, adjust these rows before you go on.

Remember that a randomized look is created by carefully selecting our starter board on each row. You might need to measure a specific length for your starter board, especially as you begin the last few rows.

Why Stagger Laminate Flooring?

There are two reasons to stagger your laminate flooring: it makes the floor stronger and it makes it look better.

If you’ve ever built with bricks (or even toy bricks, or any type of block), or if you’ve ever looked at a brick wall, you understand the importance of staggering. If you stack all the bricks up in straight columns, they fall right over. But when you overlap each brick, spacing out the joints, you can build a stable wall.

It’s the same principle in flooring; overlapped or staggered laminate flooring will create a strong floor that can expand, contract, and absorb impact as one big surface. Staggering interlocks the boards like a big puzzle that will never come apart.

Staggering also prevents unsightly problems like warping, buckling in laminate floors, and forming gaps. Avoiding these issues will make your floor look good forever.

And if you do a really good job laying down the flooring in a randomized, irregular pattern, you will hardly notice the joints between boards. Each plank will blend into the next and you’ll see nothing but a big, beautiful room of fine laminate flooring.

If you’re thinking about installing laminate floors in your house, you have probably heard about the need to acclimate the flooring to the room. Acclimating is the process of bringing the floor material into its new environment and letting it sit there to adjust to the climate.

Acclimating has always been an important part of the process for wood floors, but it can actually be just as important for the newer laminate floors. Failing to acclimate your floor could lead to damage and might void the warranty.

Does Laminate Flooring Need to Acclimate?

Yes, laminate flooring definitely needs time to acclimate to the room before you install it.

This is especially important if the flooring is coming from storage under different conditions than the house. If the flooring has been on a hot truck for three days and you install it in an air-conditioned house, it is going to be shocked by the change.

Why does laminate flooring need to acclimate in the first place? It’s because it has a fiberboard core made of a wood-based composite material. Wood, even when it’s processed into laminate fiberboard, keeps its natural tendencies to expand and contract.

acclimate laminate flooring

Wood and wood products expand or contract when the temperature or humidity around them changes. This is why you also need to install laminate floors with an expansion gap between the flooring and the walls, to allow for the floor to grow or shrink when the seasons change.

You need to acclimate laminate floors to their new home because if you bring them right in and install them without acclimating, the installation will not hold up. It will look perfectly fine at first, but when the flooring material finally adjusts to the humidity and temperature in the room, it will either expand or contract abruptly. This can cause gaps to form or make the flooring misshapen. 

Failing to acclimate properly can cause an uneven or ugly floor a year down the road. More importantly, you will be left without the protection of a warranty if you don’t follow the manufacturer’s directions for acclimating the material (most of the time, they want you to acclimate the flooring for 48 hours or more).

How Long Does Laminate Flooring Need to Acclimate?

Laminate flooring needs at least 48 hours to acclimate before you start installing it, but it can often take 72 hours or longer.

The number one factor to help you decide how long to acclimate your flooring is the warranty information that you can get from the product packaging, sales sheet, or website.

Flooring manufacturers know that acclimating the flooring properly is one of the most important ways to make sure the floor stays strong and beautiful throughout its lifespan. They will recommend a certain number of “hours before installation” for their product based on its thickness, composite material, etc.

So read the directions first, but if you have any special circumstances you can extend the time by 24 hours to be safe.

Note: Acclimating is more complicated than just a simple length of time. You also need to prepare the house ahead of time and lay the flooring out in a way that it can acclimate effectively. Keep reading to discover all the steps you should take for your new floor.

How to Acclimate Laminate Flooring

Since acclimatizing laminate flooring is a somewhat natural process, it’s not an exact science. This section will tell you the guidelines you can follow to successfully acclimate your new laminate flooring. If you do all of these, your flooring will be ready to install right and it will look great for years. These guidelines can even speed up the process.

Give Yourself Enough Time

The first step in a good laminate flooring installation is having the right expectations and planning ahead.

You probably want to get your installation over with as quickly as possible so you can enjoy the new floor you’ve paid for and avoid living in a construction zone any longer. However, don’t make the mistake of skipping acclimating time just because you get in a hurry.

Plan to get the flooring into the house two or three days before the day you want to install it. It takes a little patience to do things right, but it will be worth it.

Make sure to talk to your flooring salesman and any contractors involved about acclimating the flooring so it can be delivered a couple of days before you plan to install it.

Make Sure the Room is at Normal Living Conditions

When you’re acclimating the laminate flooring to your house, you need to think about the temperature and humidity conditions of the house. When you’re living in the house, it’s going to be relatively dry and a comfortable temperature most of the time. These are the conditions you need to acclimate the new flooring to.

If the house is newly constructed, you shouldn’t put the flooring in the house until the windows and doors are installed and any air conditioner or furnace system is installed and running. These create realistic air conditions in the home.

Watch out for excessive humidity sources. This could include construction projects like a newly-poured concrete slab or smaller sources like wet paint. Materials like this go into the house wet and then dry over time. This slow drying raises the humidity in the house. 

You should wait about 2 months before installing a laminate floor over new concrete, and about 3 days after painting the inside of your house. It’s also important to have some ventilation to speed these times up.

Make sure the temperature is moderate in the house before you go installing laminate flooring, too. If you’re not living in the house, it may be as hot or cold as the outdoor temperatures in there. Acclimate laminate flooring only after you have had the air conditioner or furnace running like normal for at least 3 days.

The temperature should be somewhere between 60F and 85F degrees, and the humidity should be between 25% and 75%. Note that the subfloor itself should also fall within these ranges.

You’ll notice that those numbers give you quite a bit of wiggle room. You just need to avoid extremes and get the temperature and humidity pretty close to where it will be when the house is actually being lived in because these are the conditions that the flooring will spend most of its life in.

Test the Humidity on a Concrete Floor

If you are installing laminate flooring over a fairly new slab of concrete or in a damp concrete room, you need to check the humidity of the concrete itself.

You can use a digital meter to give you a moisture percentage, but if you don’t have one of those you can perform a simple test using a plastic garbage bag.

Cut a large plastic bag along one seam and then unfold it to make a bigger surface (you can also just use a piece of plastic painter’s cloth). Take some sort of tape and attach the plastic sheet directly to the concrete floor. Spread the sheet out and tape all the edges so you form a complete seal.

After 24 hours, come back and peel up the tape. If there is any moisture on the underside of the plastic, you probably have too wet of conditions for a successful laminate installation.

A dry plastic sheet means the concrete is dry and has no moisture problems — it should be safe to acclimate and install laminate flooring in that room.

If this test shows a moist concrete floor, get a flooring meter for more precise measurements or wait longer to bring in your flooring. It’s likely too wet for acclimating. If you can’t dry the room out, you may need some other type of flooring that is not as finicky as laminate and wood (i.e. vinyl or tiles).

Open the Cartons

When you get your new laminate flooring, it will most likely come to you in cardboard cartons shrink-wrapped with plastic. This protects the flooring in shipping, but it can slow down the acclimating process.

To speed up acclimating when the flooring gets to your house, cut the shrink wrap open and fold the sides of the cartons down so that air can get to the floorboards from all directions. Exposing the wood to the air in the room will help it acclimate.

Stack Laminate Flooring for Airflow

If you’re really in a time crunch to get your flooring acclimated, you can remove it from the carton entirely and stack it up for maximum airflow.

Lay out three or four boards side by side, a few inches apart, forming a square. Then place the same number of boards on top of the first ones, only alternate the direction. Keep placing perpendicular layers on top, leaving several inches between any adjacent boards.

This will leave a lot of gaps for air and help your laminate adjust to the room’s conditions as fast as possible.

When stacking your flooring, remember to make a flat and even stack. Just be sure to support each board enough so it doesn’t sag in the middle. You can put a permanent bend in the laminate planks if you let them sag or twist during the acclimating process, so be careful.

Use a Moisture Meter to Test the Water Content

If you don’t mind buying a special tool, you can test the moisture content in your laminate flooring to make sure it’s well enough acclimated to the room.

Use the prongs on the tester to measure the underside of several pieces of laminate flooring to find the average moisture level.

Then, use the meter to test the subfloor for its moisture content (again, test several different spots around the room to find the average).

The reading you get from the flooring and the reading you get from the subfloor material should be within about 2% of each other. This tells you that the new flooring is completely acclimated to the room’s humidity conditions. If the two values differ by more than 5% humidity, you need to wait longer for your flooring to acclimate.

If you find that the flooring and subfloor are of the same humidity before you give them time to acclimate, still remember to follow your flooring product’s installation instructions and wait the 24-48 hours required to guarantee your warranty.