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Drop & Lock Laminate Flooring Installation Tips and Common Problems

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Drop and Lock is the second of the two main types of click together installation methods for laminate flooring. In this video, Brian shows exactly how the planks lock together, and how to avoid the two most common mistakes people make when putting in their floors. https://www.floorstoyourhome.com/laminate-flooring.html Take a look at a drawing of the expansion gap covered by a trim piece here: https://www.floorstoyourhome.com/resource-center/trims-and-moldings/quarter-round The other, even more common installation method is demonstrated in our video on Angle Angle Laminate and Vinyl Flooring Installation Tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCjLfJR33G8 More resources on Laminate Flooring: https://www.floorstoyourhome.com/resource-center/laminate-flooring/ 0:28 - Two main laminate installation systems 0:43 - Getting started 0:56 - The tongue and the groove 1:37 - Common mistake #1 - Boards facing the wrong direction 2:36 - "Dropping" the end joints 3:06 - When end joints are actually locked 3:40 - Using cut pieces from the ends 3:58 - Staggering end seams 4:17 - Second row, and locking the ends 5:35 - Common mistake #2 - connecting end joints before long sides 6:51 - Third row and beyond 7:48 - Locking down the last row Follow us! Our blog - https://www.floorstoyourhome.com/blog/ Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/floorstoyourhome Pinterest - http://pinterest.com/FTYHflooring/ Twitter - https://twitter.com/#!/FTYHFlooring Google+ - https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/105934985842168087390/ Video thrown together by W. David Lichty at https://plus.google.com/u/0/108827368707254123936
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Text Comments (82)
Glen MacPherson (2 years ago)
Still doing my research, and I notice that a number of other videos suggest that the tongue side be cut off for the first row. Is that a concern? Also, I have a have a silly question about the spacers; why are the shaped like a wedge? Do you use the narrow end, the wide end, or lay them on their side?
Brian, I think you must be talking about the starting or finishing wall, one facing the long sides of the planks rather than the ends. Expansion gaps are generally left at 1/4" during installation, with a 1/2" trim covering the gap. 3/4" exceeds both of those, obviously, so you would have to treat that as a special case. If your walls were to be off this much, then you really would have to cut the plank to match the change of the wall.
Brian Richards (1 year ago)
Floors To Your Home (.com) If your walls are not true the spacers will nor correct this because they are just spacing out the flooring unevenly because the walls are off right. I had a wall that was off three quarters of an inch that slowly regressed and I try to shim it to correct how the wall was off. but was vinyl you can't make precise Cuts Like You can laminate. so I was still getting gaps. is there anyways to 100% not get gaps if your walls are off?
Oh, you're welcome! They were great questions.
Glen MacPherson (2 years ago)
Thank you very much for the time you put into your reply - it helps very much! My previous efforts were acceptable, but I want this one to be good, and your advice will help a lot in that regard. Cheers, Glen.
Hi, Glen. 1. The benefit of cutting of the tongue, or part of it, is that you need to leave a gap of a certain size between the flooring and your wall, and the tongue might stick out past the finished surface of the floor plank. What you don't want is to have your floor undergo its normal shrinkage, and because you spaced based on the edge of the tongue, the finished surface of the floor pulls out enough that the tongue becomes exposed, or a little gap appears. Now, this is unlikely because usually very little of the tongue goes past the finished surface, even if the tongue itself is rather long. We don't think you would need to saw off the entire tongue, which would include some of the finished floor. So it's not essential, but it can be done, and it can even be helpful if you need a small expansion gap and have a particularly long tongue on the planks, or one that stretches far past the finished surface. Also, you know that most floors don't measure out to an exact, whole number of planks. What I mean is, if you have 5" planks, you may not have a room that is exactly a certain amount of 5" spans with no remainder. A 17 foot long floor is 204". That means you have to cut at least one of your two outer rows, either shaving an inch off one, or a half inch off each row for the kind of OCD evenness I might need. If you need to do that anyway, then choosing to shave off the tongue side of the starting row becomes a "might as well". 2. Those wedges. Basically you put them together back to front so that you create a rectangle with the rough dimensions of a matchbox. Two wedges form one spacer shaped like a flat box, and you'd put the long, narrow side down. (We show them placed that way in the video, though we didn't explain what your question is about, as we could have) The reason for the wedginess is so that you can control the thickness. I was going to try to snap a photo and upload it somewhere to link to it, but the fact is that these guys' picture is already perfect. Take a look at it then come back. http://www.rubberflooringinc.com/Assets/Product/Images/912x600/5242-1.jpg It pretty much says everything, doesn't it? Hats off to Rubber Flooring Inc. So you see that if you needed a 1/4" gap, you'd line the wedges up perfectly, but if you need 3/8" or 1/2", you can adjust them. I hope that helps! David
Chris P (1 year ago)
This vid was a lifesaver -- I was cursing my flooring yesterday for about 3 hours and swore it was defective or I was. Thanks for posting - I'm totally sorted out today and finished 2 entire rooms in about 6 hours.
Michael Sharpe (1 year ago)
what do you do when you have a floor hatch? it cannot float an will fall apart, Glue it?
Some of the guys who work here approached a similar situation this way: 1. They installed the floating floor up to the hatch, leaving a 1/2" gap all around the hatch - which is unusually wide for an expansion gap, but that's what they left. Basically they were treating the hatch itself like any vertical surface, such as a work island in the middle of a room. But with a slightly bigger gap. 2. They cut the planks that would go over the hatch, and attached them to the top of the hatch. You could use glue for that, or nails, depending on the type of floor you have, if you apply this example. Now they did this with the edges of the flooring covering the entire hatch, all the way to each edge of the hatch door, all floor edges flush with the door's edges. 3. They nailed down a T-mold to the hatch door only, on all four sides. The top of the T nailed to the hatch, with the drop down part flush against the perpendicular edge under it. The other half of the T, you see, rests on the flooring across that 1/2" gap, and it still allows the floor to shift according to environment changes. This added walking stability when the door is in place, and left the hatch accessible. They just slip a flat piece under the T-mold to lift that hatch door up and out. I hope this helps, especially since I don't know a lot of details about your situation. If this doesn't make sense, then I've probably mis-imagined it, and definitely feel free to ask more, though you might decide to ask someone who can take a real look at what you have. - David
Gary Stewart (1 year ago)
Its a good idea to work with 2 rows at a time so you can avoid having a ladder effect in the joins this happens when you just use the cut piece from end of row to start next row
Interesting tip. Thanks, Gary!
Josh Temple (1 year ago)
I've always done angle angle, bought some drop and lock remnants for a closet and thought I was losing my mind. Good to know the difference. Great video.
Yeah, it's a subtle, but pivotal, difference. And we've discovered mis-illustrated instructions before too! They show the short end connecting before the long end (if that was your issue). Very glad to have helped!
Joey Harper (2 years ago)
my closet is square on one side and has a angle on the other. how would i make that cut to get it up to the wall?
Joey Harper (2 years ago)
Thank you very much. This will help.
I would recommend using a Sliding Bevel, pictured here: http://i.stack.imgur.com/tq0cw.jpg (pictures are limited and come from different sources, so I'll do my best with the rest here) 1. Line it up with the squared wall, or the most recent plank, push it up to the angled wall and then adjust the end part to match the angle of the angled wall. https://homebuilding.thefuntimesguide.com/files/sliding-t-bevel-protractor-crown-molding-480x360.jpg 2. Then measure the length you need for one side of the needed plank to meet the angled wall. 3. Measure the same distance on the appropriate side of the new plank, subtracting the expansion gap, and place the sliding bevel at that point on your plank. 4. Draw a line along the angled end. If you've flipped the plank to draw on the back, make sure you reverse your angle so it's right when you flip the plank back. https://www.plasteringsupplies.com.au/4693-thickbox_default/bahco-sliding-bevel-250mm-10-stainless-steel-blade-.jpg 5. Cut along that line. This should leave you with a plank cut to meet your wall just right. I hope that helps! Please ask more if I've been unclear. - David
Joey Harper (2 years ago)
very helpful will be doing flooring this weekend and that video helps out a lot.
THE K.B EFFECT (2 years ago)
Omg. You are the boss if been trying to lay my floor four hours and this has made my laying flooring 1000 Times easier. Thank you bro
You bet, glad to help!
Nimrod 823 (2 years ago)
If only I watched this video FIRST! Lol great video thank you!
Josh G (2 years ago)
excellent vid it made my floor installation a breeze thanks
Thanks! Glad to be of help!
Kim Wojo (2 years ago)
Thank you so much!! When I get frustrated, I watch the video . . . again. :)
frozentootsiepop (2 years ago)
Very informative and well made video. Thanks. I plan on installing drop and lock flooring in a bedroom next week. The room has no trim. Should I install the trim first, then install the floor with the expansion gap and then install the quarter round on top? Or install the floor then just count on the trim to cover the expansion gap and skip the quarter round?
Hiya, +frozentootsiepop , If your trim will function as a vertical surface, basically as a wall, then you could put it in first, put the expansion gap between it and the floor, and then hover your quarter round over it, just as you've described (shown in the link below). But you're also right about the other option. Leave the baseboard off, install your flooring with the expansion gap between the planks and the wall itself, and then you can put the baseboard in over the flooring, functioning as a quarter round, covering that gap. You *can* skip the quarter round. It is both functional, and fashionably allowable, my homeowner colleagues tell me. - David https://www.floorstoyourhome.com/resource-center/trims-and-moldings/baseboards/
Tomislav Zvonimir (2 years ago)
Hi, i have a problem. I bought some laminate and they are all same long size 1,5m. So i can't mix smaller ones with the long ones. That leaves me with a 0,5m gap at the sidewall. Now i have to cut an entire box of planks in smaller pieces to fill the whole gap. The problem is i can't lay them down as they won't clip properly on the shorter lenght. What should i do?
Tomislav Zvonimir (2 years ago)
+Floors To Your Home (.com) Thank you for replying, i've already come to this conclusion as i went out of planks. However the room looks good and next time i won't make the same mistake again. It was a cheap lesson that i won't forget.
+Tomislav Zvonimir Tomislav, if I read you correctly, all of your rows are ending .5 meters from your wall. It sounds like you have started each row with a full piece, so that all rows start and end at the same place. Also, every short end is at the same spot - the short ends all line up together. With plank flooring, each row needs to be staggered. So if you start row 1 with a full piece, you must start row 2 with a partial piece, then put the full pieces in between as usual, and they will all be staggered. This way the end joints will not line up. It is important that end joints be at least .21 meters apart to keep all planks locked. The easiest way to do this is, from the first row, cut the final piece in the row so that it fits into place, completing that first row from wall to wall (with the expansion gaps). Then you can take the leftover, partial piece you have just cut off to begin the next row. Each row should be able to stagger properly just by doing this. If I have misunderstood the problem, forgive me and let me know again. Hopefully I will understand you more clearly, and can help. - David
Kevin Zazvorka (3 years ago)
How come no answer to JN2013
+Kevin Zazvorka No idea. Like I replied to you before, YouTube has lost, and disconnected, many previous replies and conversations. I responded last Spring, hopefully JN 2013 saw it before it was erased. Google does many things well, but their YouTube comments section isn't one of those - even today it's pretty clunky.
Kevin McDaniel (3 years ago)
Wish I would've seen this before I started on my daughter's bedroom.
Kayra Kaye (3 years ago)
Good information. Thanks for the video!
Beverly Roxby (3 years ago)
It looks to me like this guy has the tongue side and ghe groove side mixed up. It's clear enough from the video what he means, but still...
+Beverly Roxby No, he's got it spot on. The tongue side has a protrusion in the middle, the vertical middle I mean, and the groove side has a channel in the middle. This leaves the bit sticking out along the bottom for the groove side, which does look tongue-ish, maybe even more so than the tongue proper, but that's still the groove. Now if you mean at about 1:24, where my "Tongue Side Against The Wall" text is closest to the groove, and my "Groove Side Facing Into The Room" text is closer to the tongue, then you're absolutely right, that's some bad placement I did there, needlessly counter-intuitive. - David
Brian Milligan (3 years ago)
Great video. Thank you!
Marcelo Urias (3 years ago)
Thanks for this video. It saved my project. I was three rows down when I got suspicious I was going backwards....if it wasn't for this video, I was in for a day of grief.
+Marcelo Urias Glad to have helped!
Len Breccia (3 years ago)
Great video thanks
Billy B (3 years ago)
I never knew this type of locking system existed until I went to install some flooring I bought. I have been trying to figure it out for a week now. NOW I KNOW!! :-) ty this was very helpful.
Kenneth Settles (3 years ago)
Thank you for making and sharing this video. It's very informative, and explains it fully without a bunch of unnecessary fluff mixed in.
JN 2013 (3 years ago)
How would you go about when installing a drop and lock flooring transitioning as one uniform continuous flooring between multiple rooms where it is not possible to start from one wall working to the other side of the room due to walls not being square? Would you mark out a middle line and drop and lock the floor in two directions from that middle line, with one of those directions being what you in this video describe as the wrong way? 
Michelle Riley (3 years ago)
Thank you so much for this video, I have literally made every mistake you mentioned in the video and was about to give up but I decided to look for helpful video's so I am going back to rectify my mistakes and hopefully it will be easier :)
Brian Hamilton (3 years ago)
This is very helpful. Thank you!
Thomas Sinclair (4 years ago)
simple and informative...thanks
Rich Gale (4 years ago)
Right watched the vid now time to try it...wish me luck lol...thanks for the video...best one I've seen.
James Demask (4 years ago)
These videos are great if you live in a one room house
kdogtv (4 years ago)
I am currently working with this flooring for a small room in my house, and I WISH it was this easy.  Its funny what NO ONE SHOWS US is how to get those end pieces in when its a real tight fit! What a PITA! I mean I have spent a lot of time trying to get my cut pieces into place when its the last piece going in against the wall, how do you "Slide" those into place? B. I bought a spacer kit and they are spacers with a straight back but angled front and the stupid things keep falling forward over my boards, they wont even stay up against the wall for me to straighten my boards. I'm going to post the video of how to get those tight wall pieces in place when I figure it out. Videos like this are near useless, shows us the tricky parts.
In this video, Brian shows exactly how drop-n-lock planks lock together and how to avoid the two most common mistakes made when putting in the floors.
Meredith Beesing (4 years ago)
Thank you! We were doing all of the common mistakes.
Tara Freeman (4 years ago)
i know this is an old video but it was very informative. i was wondering about the "bow" that was happening after my first 3 rows and now understand that i need more weight.  I was about to rip it apart and start over.
Zaren (4 years ago)
Thank you!  My first try at laying a floor was an Angle Angle floor in one room.  Then a year later, ended up with a Drop & Lock for the next room.  I wanted a thicker sturdier floor in the that room.  Even though the boxed instructions seem to suggest that it was Angle Angle, the install went smoothly using the Drop & Lock method.  I didn't have any of the problems that you mentioned after doing that.
sirenvy (4 years ago)
You guys are awesome. Seriously. I am new to this flooring thing, and I am just one of those guys who knows what hes doing, but watches videos to make sure. lol.
Thank you!
Barbara K (5 years ago)
Great instruction video. Logical and a good starting point for doing one's own floating floor.
Ahmet, the best starting point would be the bottom of the U, then once you hit the divide, you basically just have 2 smaller rooms to finish. If you start at the top of the U working down, and there is *any* difference in the room's length (going up the sides of the U) from one side to the other, then when your two floors meet after the divide, one may actually be an inch or so ahead of the other, and they may not line up (vertically). - David
Ahmet Karakus (5 years ago)
What to do if you have an U shaped room divided by a wall, I have started off wrong I guess now I have to work backwards :(((((((
Jeet rawti (5 years ago)
Very good presentation and very helpful tips.
kulminaator (5 years ago)
Thanks for the helpful video
The other issue is that different manufacturers have their own versions of both Drop & Lock and angle to angle installations, so you might find a manufacturer who does indeed say to lift the previous plank, line up the ends, and then lock the long side of the new plank. With the Drop & Lock floors we have, that would make installation pretty difficult, but we certainly don't sell every floor on the market. Always follow YOUR directions. This video is for general demonstration and tips. - David
I don't know which exact floor you're installing, Matt. The most common type of laminate installation is another method called angle to angle, and with that one would do as your instructions indicate. We show that in our video on angle to angles at about 5 minutes in. The link is in the description. The ratio with these methods is around 1 to 4 against Drop & Lock, maybe more, so most will find themselves with an angle to angle floor. - David
A Rip (5 years ago)
If you go to 6:00 into the video where you talk about not doing the end joint first. in the instructions it says to do the end joint first by lifting up the board to the left, clicking in the end joint and then click in the seam... doesnt make sense
James Williams (5 years ago)
thanks for the clear instruction
KingTJL (5 years ago)
Thankyou Very helpful
Thank you very much!
superdataman (5 years ago)
Very nice instructional video! :-) As a total novice to laminate flooring installation, I went looking for a video to help me learn how to do it right the first time. I viewed a few other videos and then found this one. I am laying a laminate floor in my daughter's room and your tips will be very helpful. Thanks for taking the time to produce and post this video. God Bless!
Duncan Aitchison (5 years ago)
Excellent and clear advice. Supper job
You pull the spacers out at the end. The gaps left between your flooring and your wall is what will be hidden under your side boards and trims. Those gaps all around your floor allow it to slip further under your trims, and then pull back away as the floor expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity. I've put a link in the video description to a page showing what that can look like, a space covered by a trim. - David
Junior Antonio Lenoci (5 years ago)
complimenti molto chiaro.... fantastic it's very clear
f3hunter (5 years ago)
Thank you for the video-It definitely made my installation much easier.
SpiderChick69 (5 years ago)
This was very helpful to me and my husband. We have never done laminate flooring and our flooring looks amazing thanks to your video. Thanks so much.
donald browndyke (6 years ago)
good job,this was great.and further more it's nice to see simple easy to follow instructions.
You should see seams in the laminate; it's a beveled product. Some laminate flooring is made to lay flush from plank to plank, to give you a perfectly smooth, flat floor you can slide across in your socks. Others will have bevels, where the edges are cut to form between any two pieces a groove ranging from 45 to 90 degrees. Some people just prefer an apparent separation between planks. Most French Bleed laminates, for instance, are also beveled. - David
Glad to be a help!
ThePumpkinKing 07 (6 years ago)
this video really helped me out. thanks for the video. it was easy to follow.
You would always want to get a sample first to make sure your additional flooring will work with your existing flooring. (sorry for the triple post - YouTube has a character count)
(pt. 2) If you're asking if a certain Drop & Lock system on a brand of floor you have is an exact match to the Drop & Lock system on flooring we have, the answer would be that you definitely shouldn't count on it. Each manufacturer can have their own versions of Angle Angle and Drop & Lock, or many versions, so you should never expect to be able to lock together different brands, types, styles, or even the same brand purchased some time later, like a year or so after your initial purchase.
If you mean to ask "are Uniclic and Valinge Drop & Lock systems" the best answer is "they can be". Your biggest difference in click together installation systems for laminate floors is the difference between any Drop & Lock (or Fall Down Click) and any Angle Angle. Uniclic and Valinge can actually be either system - it depends on the product they are producing.
Thank you, jjurisch83. Can't tell you how gratifying it is to hear that this is actually helping people out. That's just great.
Jon Jurisch (6 years ago)
Great Video - happened to install my first row and it wasn't working quite right so hit up YouTube... turns out I made mistake #1 and was planning on making mistake #2!
Thank you, Mr. Harper!
Steven Harper (6 years ago)
I never put in flooring before. This is THE best video on YouTube on showing people how to install laminate flooring. Thanks for explaing it in layman's terms!
kayyRdee06 (6 years ago)
Great video! Our guys started doing a structured pattern but I knew it was more of random placement and just getting the joints covered. Thank you for you expertise!

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