Which Direction To Lay Laminate Flooring?

As one of the top styles of flooring for homeowners that want to do it themselves, we receive plenty of questions in regards to laminate installation. One of the first involves actually placing the boards down in a room and figuring out which layout works the best. The answer isn’t simple, however, as you have to consider the room itself along with several other factors.

Do you lay laminate flooring horizontally or vertically?

The top question posed by homeowners is whether they should lay laminate flooring vertically or horizontally. By design, you can run laminate either way in a room but how you choose to do so can have a dramatic impact on the end result.

The first thing to take into account is where the laminate will be installed. Are you going to install it throughout your home or just in a few rooms? Will those rooms be connected or will you transition to other types of flooring? Those are just a few things to consider before you unbox the first laminate floor board from the box.

Laying Laminate in Single Rooms

The most common way to lay laminate in a single area is to use the longest wall of the room. By laying the flooring parallel to the wall, it will add more depth and can make the room appear longer. This is usually the preferred method by professionals in rectangular rooms, but not all rooms are the same length or width.

For square rooms, you can lay the laminate flooring vertically or horizontally. With that in mind, if there are windows in that room that put out a lot of sunlight, it’s usually a good idea to run the laminate perpendicular to the window. This is often easier on the eyes in these types of rooms, unless they are in rooms with an entry door.

If you have an entry door that opens straight into a room with hardwood or laminate flooring, most homeowners lay the flooring perpendicular as you would with a window.  Again, your preference should come first, but these are the most common patterns for these layouts.

Laying Laminate Flooring throughout a Home

When you plan to install laminate flooring in every room in your home, you’ll need to consider the planning a bit more carefully. That means you have to consider the way light flows into a room along with doorways, transitions, and hallways.

In our experience, we found that most homeowners and professional flooring installers lay laminate in the same direction throughout the entire house. This ties everything together and allows the flooring to flow, compared to changing direction from one room to the next. In this case, you’ll want to find the longest “side” for your home, and run the flooring parallel to it.

Laying Laminate Flooring in Hallways and Closets

Does your home have one or more hallways? They can pose problems, especially when separated by doors that branch off into multiple rooms. Depending on the width of the hallway, it can be one of the more challenging areas to deal with besides closets as you may not have as much room to work.

If you want your hallway to appear longer or more spacious, the best choice is to run laminate flooring in the same direction as the long walls. This will give the illusion of more length, whereas running boards across a hallway will have the opposite effect. If you are running it from one into a hallway and lay it the same way, it also prevents you from using transitions.

As for closets, we recommend that you run the laminate flooring into any closets in the same direction that it goes into the room. If it’s a small closet with a door or oddly shaped, you can use a transition and switch the layout of the run to better suit your needs in these small areas.


While there are no set rules on the direction you should lay laminate flooring, we hope our guide provided some tips to help plan the layout of your new flooring project. Just keep in mind, the best way to lay laminate flooring is the one that’s most appealing to you whether it’s a traditional room or one that’s oddly shaped with transitions.


Q: Which side of the laminate goes against the wall during installation?

A: When you begin the first run in any room, make sure the tongue side of the board is facing the wall and remember expansion.

Q: Can you install laminate without removing the baseboards?

A: Yes, but only if there is enough space to slide the new laminate flooring beneath the baseboards. If there is too much of a gap, you may need to use quarter-round moulding as well.

Q: Can you change the direction of laminate flooring?

A: Yes and it’s something many designers do with certain styles of flooring depending on the visual layout and décor. With that in mind, you will need to use a transition strip when you change the direction of laminate flooring.

Q: Can cabinets be installed on top of laminate flooring?

A: It’s not recommended with floating flooring, including laminate. Having a permanent fixture like cabinets on top of the flooring can keep it from expanding and contracting. Flooring should be run to the cabinets and trimmed out appropriately.

Q: What’s the best type of transition strip to use with laminate?

A: That all depends on the type of transition. You can use any style of transition strip designed for laminate flooring, just make sure the height and edges are suitable to your needs.

Q: How long should I wait to walk on laminate flooring after it’s been installed?

A: You should refer to the manufacturer’s directions, but in most cases, it’s advised to wait at least 24 hours before walking or placing furniture on newly installed laminate flooring.

Q: Can I lay laminate flooring down without underlayment?

A: Yes, but only under certain conditions and we highly advise using underlayment beneath your flooring unless it’s pre-attached to the back of each plank. 

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