Prior to installing laminate floors in a kitchen, the cabinets should already be in place because the flooring can be easily installed to fit around the cabinets. I also recommend checking exterior doors in the room for alarm wires. If you begin cutting without checking, you run the risk of cutting alarm wires that may be behind the door casing.
To begin, I undercut all door jambs to make sure there is plenty of room for expansion. I also like to position the transition strips before beginning the installation, even though I do not actually install them until the end of the installation. It is helpful to know where the transition strips are going before I start.
Installation and Appliances
If you are using cove base on the front of the kick plates, be sure to leave enough expansion space. After the floor is installed, pack out the kick plate with ¼” plywood or a similar material, and then apply the cove base. I like to undercut the corners of the cabinet, which helps to avoid leaving a visible expansion space at the outside corners. This is helpful in situations like installing around the dishwasher. I cut the flooring as in Photos 1, 2 and 3.
First, I remove the front plate and thread the legs up to allow room for the floor (Photo 4). Stacked spacers help to hold up the unit while I’m installing the floor.
Next, I use a jamb saw to undercut the corner of the cabinet (Photo 5).
Then I install the floor, aligning it flush with the undercut corner of the cabinet (Photo 6).
Next, I replace the front plate and the installation around the dishwasher area is complete (Photo 7).
Another tricky factor in installing flooring in a kitchen is disconnecting and reconnecting an icemaker in a refrigerator. I typically use an Airsled (Photo 8) to eliminate issues with icemakers. It saves time and helps protect the flooring. The Airsled picks up the appliances without skidding or scratching by blowing air similar to an air hockey table. I install the floor up to the refrigerator, position it onto the new floor with the Airsled, finish the floor and replace the appliance – without having to disconnect the icemaker.
Installing laminate floors in a kitchen has challenges that can be overcome with education on laminate installation. I recommend becoming certified in laminate installation through courses such as those offered at the NALFA Installer Certification School. The courses teach installation for multiple manufacturers’ products and cover a wide variety of challenges installers will face during installations.