When I approach this column, I make a deliberate effort to write only about installation methods and materials in the laminate flooring segment that I have personal experience with. The foundation that this knowledge provides is crucial to my informing you about the tools and techniques that should be employed when approaching a laminate floor installation.

Many of the articles detail methods that are complicated and involved for the reason that, until recently, they were the best option available. I have come to realize, however, that I often present an installation technique without giving adequate space to the tools that make it possible, especially as technology improves the equipment we use and gives us more ways to use it.

I have recently begun researching, purchasing, and using tools and equipment that I believe greatly simplify the installation process. Look at this as a starting point as you take stock of the contents in your toolbox, and especially as you realize what you might be missing.

First and foremost, tools for installing laminate floors must be simple, accurate, functional, portable and, most importantly, be able to reproduce the same cut continuously, without any deviation. Many of the tools on the market today have a variety of attachments that allow them to be used in an array of installation situations. That versatility, however, often renders them inappropriate for the precision work that calls for precise repeats, due to the slight movement that occurs with each setting.

In the next issue of FCI, I will be installing a laminate floor with borders and inserts, step by step. Let me use this time now to familiarize you with the features and attributes of the tools that you should be looking for when considering your equipment choices in this type of installation situation.

When choosing a saw, it is important to secure one that cuts precisely, with no splinters, helping to maximize both the floor’s appearance and the installer’s safety. Guide systems are essential to this operation. Splinter guards, particularly those calibrated to the saw blade, help eliminate surface chipping. There are a variety of these systems available for the installation professional.

In order to assure precision cuts regardless of the angle, it is worth exploring the various multi-functional tables on the market. Options include everything from compatibility with a manufacturer’s own circular saws and guide systems to folding legs for easy storage and portability.

Due to defects or damage, or as a modification during replacement warrants, unwanted material on the tongue and groove of a laminate plank may need to be removed. Ask around for the choices currently available that perform this task.

No installation should be started without knowing the exact measurements of the space in which you will be working. There are numerous choices for measuring devices, from the traditional to the high-tech. It is worth exploring all the options out there; you may find that what you’ve shied away from in the past makes sense in the present, and even more so in the future.

When I take you through the step-by-step installation of a laminate floor with borders and insets in the next issue of FCI, you will have the chance to see some of these tools in action. There is only so much you can say about a tool; it’s seeing it in action that puts the weight behind the words.

I want to thank Festools, Gunntech, Micro Fence and others for their assistance in presenting this brief sampling of some of the features an installation professional should be looking for when purchasing tools and equipment.