Before we get started
Before I guide you through the steps of how to install the first row of laminate flooring, I want to be sure that you are ready for this step. Let’s go through a few things and see where you are at. By the time you get to this step you should already have-
- all existing flooring removed
- all of the door jambs should be cut
- your lay out is complete(You know how big your first piece will be)
All three of these steps are very important, but the layout process is the most important. If you don’t know how to do these things, that’s okay I will show you. Just start by clicking on the button below.
Step 1- Layout the first few rows of laminate or vinyl plank flooring
Let’s get started and I will show you how to install the first row of laminate flooring. It is really important to build a solid foundation to work off of. This foundation I’m talking about is at least 4 rows of planks.
Once at least 4 rows are together, then the floor can be moved to position, secured properly and now you will have a great foundation to build off of. The first thing that you want to do is lay out your first few rows of laminate flooring from wall to wall. You will have to make a cut or two for your beginning and end piece.
You want to somewhat have the laminate or vinyl plank close to where it is going to be so you don’t cut a plank short or long.
Step 2 – Move the floor into position
Once you do this, than we need to position these rows away from the wall to clear the vents, if there are any. The goal here is to avoid any cutting of vents or scribing to the wall at this point. This is going to really make it a lot easier to get started without dealing with a bunch of time consuming cuts.
We already have snapped a line on the floor using a chalk line, which is now going to guide us on the correct position of our floor. So grab your cheat sheet that we created ( these were also covered in the where to start video) and we will now use a number from it to move the floor to the correct position.
I first look at my cheat sheet to find a number on there that I will use to move the floor to that distance. My number that I’m going to use is 124 inches. Your number will most likely be different this is just my example. Once I have measured I then position the floor by moving it. Because you have a solid foundation built the floor will move without coming apart, but you should still have help with this part.
Now to make it easy to do some quick measuring for the final positioning, I measure from the line to the tongue and establish a measurement. I then use that same measurement to measure along the entire floor(from the line to the tongue) to move it into exact position.
Step 3- Securing the floor
Once we have the floor into position the next step in how to install the first row of laminate is securing the floor so it does not move. This is one of the most important steps in your entire laminate installation or vinyl plank installation.
You want a floor that is straight and doesn’t move. If it’s not straight and it moves it will be battle every plank you try to install. I use scraps of the plank or I just cut a plank or 2 to get several 6 inch pieces. I then lock these pieces into place using the locking system on the planks and then screw the scrap down to the floor.
This will hold your floor in place. I place one of these temporary boards on each end of the floor and on every seam. Every board that I secure, I measure first to be sure the floor did not move. This will ensure the floor will stay straight the entire way.
What if your floor is a concrete slab? Great question and I will show you in this video.
You did it!!
Now you know how to install the first row of laminate or vinyl plank. Now you are ready to start installing the rest of your floor. There are several tips and methods that I can help you with for the rest of your installation. I have everything you need inside Laminate University. I will even help you on a one on one basis with all your questions. Just click on the button below to become a member today!
I hope this was some good information about how to install the first row of laminate flooring.
May God Bless You Today,
Hello Joe, I’m about to install ~900 sq ft of high-end laminate flooring on my entire first floor. Across multiple rooms, bathroom and closets. I do have a “longest wall” I was planning on installing off of, but what would be the best approach for the first row?
I am not sure what you are asking can you post a pic of a drawing on my facebook page.
On your starter rows do you remove the tongue off every plank or do you not remove the tongue at all? Getting ready to install Pergo Outlast+, and they say remove the tongue off just the first plank. Your thoughts? Thanks in advance! Great videos and thanks for all the great info!
Watch this video. https://youtu.be/7pQ1-lzIObM
I’m installing a click floating floor (Mono Sierra Solid Q 12mm) and I’ve encountered a persistent issue. Sometimes one end of a floor tile/panel will click into the previous one but the other end won’t. It’s in the groove but either the far left or far right end won’t click into the ‘top’ panel. I’ve tried using different floor panels but it doesn’t seem to help. I ended up tearing out the last 5 rows of flooring (no glue so no damage done) but when I start again with new sections the problem crops up again. Light hammering with a plastic mallet doesn’t help.
Any idea of what’s going on and how I can fix it? Thanks.
Do u have Facebook. Can you share some pics on my Facebook page. I would be able to better help you there. Sounds like you didn’t get your starter row straight. Also you should be using a tapping block with that stuff not a mallet. Do you have one?
Ah, you’re right, one of the first boards was crooked. There’s a gap in this part of the room where the board isn’t flush to the wall and it bent slightly. I’ve set up an artificial barrier to hold it in place, this seems to be helping. Also using a tapping block instead of a mallet has really helped. Thanks Joe!
Joe, I just bought Mannington Adura Max Luxury Plank (the new WPC stuff). Can I use your instructions to install it just as you show for laminate?
Yes. Great question!
Hi Joe. I am installing a laminate floor on concrete, so can not screw in first row. I am having a major issue with boards not staying in. I tap in end (to close gap) and other side comes lose from board above it. Then I tap in side and other end comes lose again. It’s making me crazy. Any ideas of why this is happening?
If the floor moved because it’s not secured this will make it difficult to install it. If I’m installing over concrete I still secure the floor. I use a hammer drill to drill the holes.
In your video you screwed the laminate into the place. I think this would solve the problem that I encountered when trying to install laminate. However, when I look at the instructions from the the manufacturer, it tells you not to do that, do you think I can ignore that and still screw them into place?
I remove the screws at the end of the installation. They are correct do not leave the screws in there when you are done. That’s what they mean u in the instructions.
Great, thank you Joe!
A follow up question if you don’t mind. In the house there is a door, and on either side of the door there is an offset in the wall that is quite pronounced, Any suggestions or tips on how to deal with that?
Kind of looks like below:
That came out wrong let me try again:
I am planning to install laminate flooring. I have an existing wood floor underneath that has been painted. Do i need to tear up that wood floor or can i install laminate over the top of it?
Nope go right over it. Of course be sure everything is solid and secure first.
Thanks for sharing all of the good information. I am installing on concrete, how should I go about securing the first few rows after they are all squared up?
Also is it possible to do herringbone pattern using laminate like this and some kind of threshold to space the center?
ok if you want to do a herringbone pattern than I suggest using a wood look Vinyl Plank and then glue it to the floor with a pressure sensitive adhesive. I install a lot of LVP(luxury vinyl plank) and a lot of it is pretty good. Plus it is really simple to replace a piece if damage occurs.
Thanks for great videos! A couple of questions:
Do you remove the screws holding the first row after installation? I’m asking since the floors are suppose to float freely.
Also, how do you make sure that your wall is square when laying the chalk line? i.e. What if two walls are joining at 85 degrees instead of 90.
Yes I remove the screws at the end of the installation. I always try to square off the longest wall(usually an exterior wall. This will usually give you the best result for keeping everything square and straight. I also try to measure off the base plate of the wall instead of the sheetrock. You can cut away some sheetrock to get to this so your tape measure will slide under the sheetrock to the plate.
Hi Joe, how come you cut 3/4 in off the floor in the beginning?
Because when I figured out my layout, that is what I needed to take off the first row so everywhere else worked out. Watch my video on layout and it explains everything!
Hi Joe its Jude from Australia. Thank you for the great information. Im just about to lay a laminate floor. Can you tell me what did you use as edging? Im not really keen on the striping they suggested its just too narrow. Can I remove my existing architrave and use that? Also do you need to leave a gap between the board and the wall so the floor doesn’t bow. If so what measurement would you use?
Thanks again for the great video
Are you talking about the base board? Or transition strips in the doorways.
I can’t see the picture, but I did upload it. Let me know if I need to try something else.
Hi Joe, My husband and I are helping our son install a click vinyl plank floor, and we spent the first night trying to figure out how to scribe the first plank to an uneven wall. Thanks for the video on that. My next question is – the wall we are laying the first row against adjoins walls that are sharply angled into a bay window. I spent half the night envisioning flipping the first and last planks to scribe the wall angle cut to the planks. Do you have an explanation that would clarify this step?
Can you send me a pic on facebook so I can better answer your question? I have a link to my facebook page in the contact us tab in the menu
This is my favorite video of all time. You should have seen me trying to fish out a spacer in the middle under first row(that I noticed after completing 5th row). I wondered why boards seemed warped!!! Good thing I’m a girl with smaller hands. First time laminate DIYers should not even look further than your first row video. I wish I had found it before I started my foyer laminate! I cut many pieces of laminate and used for spacers. First row kept sliding..spacers kept falling…what a mess, but I never gave up and was proud of finished project.
Thanks Sandra! I wish you would have found it sooner. Glad to help and thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it!
Thanks very much Joe. So appreciated . I’m thinking of doing my condo but not sure how to transition from open living and dining area to perpendicular hallway with a bedroom to the left halfway down hallway, and second bedroom in – line at end of the hallway. Any tips or videos? Thanks again for the awesome video!
Can you draw out the room on paper with the measurements and either email that photo or post it on my Facebook page? I could help you better if I can see what we are talking about. My email is Joe@sothatshowyoudothat.com and I have a link in the menu for my Facebook page just click on the contact us tab.
I’m tackling this project on my own. I’ve looked at different ways to lay the laminate but I’m sticking to ur videos cause the shortcuts make sense. However; should I cut smaller boards & lay them between the seams for reinforcement, & how long should they be?
I’m unsure of what you mean can you try to explain this differently?
Hey Joe! Great info! I’m getting ready to tackle a few rooms myself. I’m not exactly sure where to start. I was wondering if I could send you a picture of my floor plan if you’d be willing to give me your opinion on where to begin?
Yes that would be great! Just send it to me on my Facebook page and I will get back to you right away.
What is the 3/4 inch for? also….I can’t read your answers cause your photo, though nice, is in the way…I am a woman…my husband paid for this for me and I need answers
the 3/4 of an inch is what I needed to take off the first board for my layout to be how I wanted it. if you watch my layout video it explains everything you need to know about how I came up with that.
How did you determine the 3/4″?
Why do you have to scribe the wall if you leave an expansion gap? Also I f your drywall has a gap between the wall and cement?
Since finding a wall that is straight is almost impossible, that is why I would scribe it. If you can make a straight cut and it will all cover with the trim, then go ahead and do that!
Excellent tip on how to secure the flooring. Wish I’d known or thought about doing it that way while I installed a couple of thousand square feet of flooring over the past few months.
Look forward to more tips and tricks.
Thanks Dave! There are many more tips I will be sharing and I’m sure you will be wishing the same thing, so stay tuned.