How to Cut Laminate Flooring

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how to cut laminate flooring

Installing laminate flooring is a fairly easy job that many people can do. It is designed to be as simple as possible and have a low barrier of entry cost-wise as well. 

However, one of the more complex jobs when it comes to installation is cutting the planks. 

There are a lot of things that can go wrong when cutting laminate flooring. Because of the way it is constructed, laminate is prone to chipping and splitting when being cut. 

To prevent this, there are some preparations you can make before you start cutting. 

In this article, we have laid out everything you need to know to keep your laminate intact. By following these directions, you can cut your flooring to size without ending up with too much waste. 

Cutting Laminate Flooring: Basic Idea

To keep your laminate flooring from chipping while cutting, there are some precautions to take. 

These include: 

  • Measure the cuts
  • Mask the laminate
  • Cut on the back side
  • Cut the tongue edge

By doing these steps correctly, you can make clean cuts that won’t cause chipping or splintering. 

Tools You Need to Cut Laminate Flooring

tools you need to cut laminate flooring
One of the most important things to consider when cutting laminate flooring is the tools you use. 

Laminate is essentially made up of pressed particle board with a thin veneer over the top of it. 

When cutting through the planks, the particle board can chip easily. This can make it difficult to cut completely straight lines. 

To eliminate this possibility, make sure you are using the right tools. 

If you are making cross cuts across the width of the laminate, a circular saw is a good choice. The fast movement of the blade makes chipping less likely. 

If you have to make rip cuts down the length of the board, this is a little more difficult. 

Use a tablesaw with a brand new blade to make long cuts. Make sure you set the fence properly and that you push the laminate through in a smooth motion. 

Measure Your Cuts

The best way to avoid waste when cutting laminate is to make accurate measurements. 

We have all heard the phrase “measure twice, cut once.” This is especially true with laminate flooring

Because the laminate will be more likely to chip with a second cut, it’s important to get it right. That way, you can be sure that splitting and chipping doesn’t happen and you won’t have to throw pieces away. 

Accurate measurements will also make it easier for you to get the laminate installed. Use a straight edge ruler instead of a tape measure wherever possible. 

Laminate is designed to be as simple to install as possible. If you make sure your measurements are correct, you won’t run into any problems as you lay it down. 

Mask the Cut Line

Before you begin to make any cuts on your laminate planks, cover the cut line with masking tape. 

Two layers of tape is better than one and, if at all possible, cover both sides of the plank. This will help hold the veneer of the laminate together as you make the cut. 

When you use a cutting tool, the blade pulls on the surface it is being run through. If that surface is thin, like veneer, it will chip away. 

This is the same principle that happens when using a dull knife. If it is unable to completely slice through something, it will not be a clean cut. 

The masking tape will hold the veneer together as you make your cuts and ensure a straight line.  

Cut on the Back

cut on the back

You should also make sure that you are cutting on the side that will be facing the ground. 

If you end up with any chips or splits, they are most likely going to be on the cutting side. Cutting on the downward facing end will keep the upward facing end clean. 

Even if you are cutting on the back side, you should still mask both sides. This will ensure that your laminate will stay together and lessen waste. 

Cut the Tongue Fasteners 

Laminate flooring is held together with a tongue and groove-style fastener

This is meant to allow the laminate to simply click into place. It eliminates the need for glues and adhesives and makes the installation that much easier. 

When you get to the end of your flooring area, you will still have a tongue edge that sticks out. This will have to be cut off to leave room for the expansion gap. 

When cutting off the tongue, don’t use a power saw. This small piece of wood is difficult to remove since it is so small. 

Instead, you can use a utility knife to cut it off. It should be thin enough to slice away easily. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

faq how to cut laminate flooring

  • Why won’t my laminate floor stay together?

If your laminate isn’t staying together, this could be due to improper installation. 

As you walk on the laminate, it will shift and move. If it isn’t measured properly, this can cause gaps between the planks. 

  • Why is my laminate floor bouncy?

Bouncy laminate floor is usually due to water damage underneath the planks. When water gets underneath the laminate, it will start to eat away at the subfloor. 

This causes bounciness and will eventually damage the structural integrity of the floor. 

  • How long does laminate flooring take to settle?

Laminate floor needs at least 48 hours to completely settle. 

You should always let laminate acclimate to the environment. Let the planks sit in the room where they will be installed for at least 24 hours before installing. 

Conclusion 

Cutting laminate flooring is one of the more difficult things to do in the installation. You should buy at least 10% more than you need to account for mistakes. 

However, if you follow the steps above, you can eliminate as many mistakes as possible during your installation. 

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AUTHOR

Michael J. O’Connor is a writer and marketing specialist from the Bay Area of California. A graduate of Sonoma State’s Creative Writing program, he spent many years as a contractor and carpet layer, learning the ins and outs of flooring and general contracting. When he’s not typing away at his desk, he enjoys hiking with his dogs, woodworking and collecting rare books. See full biography here.

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