Just wondering how to start the 1st row of laminate flooring. I have a door to deal with right off the bat. Wondering which is the better option (see diagram). This diagram is not to scale. The wall is 20 feet long with a standard door opening.


  • I should have mentioned that the room just past the door has carpet, which will NOT be removed. Probably an important piece of info I should have included in my original post.
    – Ariel
    Jan 5, 2014 at 19:04

3 Answers 3


In general, all tile and plank layout should be done to maximize the size of the pieces along both the starting wall and the finish wall. in general, unless you have at least 3/4 of a unit at the end wall, you wan to cut both the starting and ending rows to have a more balanced appearance. (Even with 3/4 of a full plank, you may still want to divide the difference for a more symmetrical appearance).

Assuming fairly square walls, you figure out the size of the edge strips as follows:

  1. Compute how many full units fit across the room.
  2. Compute the extra width beyond the full units.
  3. Add that to the width of a full unit.
  4. Divide by 2. This is the width of your starting row and finishing row. (Your full rows will be one less than the maximum total you first computed.)


Room is 10'2" feet wide and tiles/planks are 1 foot wide:

 1. Maximum full units is 10
 2. Extra width is 2" 
 3. Extra plus one unit is 1'2" (14")
 4. Half of that is 7". (Starting and ending rows are 7" each, 9 full units in between)


Room is 10'10" wide and tiles/planks are 1 foot wide:

 1. Maximum full units is 10
 2. Extra width is 10"
 3. Extra plus one unit is 1'10" (22")
 4. Half of that is 11". (Starting and ending rows are 11" each, 9 full units in between.)

In general, flooring will be finished with a molding over a gap left around the perimeter (usually 1/4" to 3/8" depending on the flooring material). This gap is needed to accommodate shifting of the flooring materials due to seasonal shrinking and swelling.

The door transition needs to be adjusted to reflect the door saddle or other capping mechanism. A gap is needed at that transition as well as the wall edges. You could use either A or B if the door transition cover will give at least a 1/2" cover of the edge.

  • that's a great example. The width of the room is 18'8". By using your example the starting and finishing plank should be 10" wide with 17 full units in between.
    – Ariel
    Jan 5, 2014 at 19:02
  • Don't forget to account for the expansion gap on each side. Subtract double this value between the third and fourth steps.
    – Doresoom
    Jan 27, 2015 at 18:35

Option B is a fine way to start, if possible check 2 things. If possible shift your row if you can to get a potential butt joint out of the doorway. It is always best to eliminate joints in the doorways since it is always a high traffic area.The elimination of the added piece in option 1 is the reason I did go for option 1.

Secondly, adjust how much you cut out of the start row to minimize the problem of having a really narrow strip to finish on the other side. A 1" strip can be glued onto the neighboring lap if need be, a 1/2" strip will be delicate but can handled with glue too. Just make sure you will finish well. you do need to leave a 1/2" room at all solid objects in the room to allow the floor to float within the room, it will move, it will expand and contract with seasonal, and changes in room humidity/conditioning.


I would start up in the top-right corner of the diagram, that way you have to cannibalize say two tiles, to make up for the little bit of space you need to cover between the edge of the first column of tiles and the door jam, as opposed to cutting off say two inches off of every single piece of flooring in the entire first column.

Alternately I guess you could also start in another corner of the room, preferably with a strait wall that has no doors!

When I redid the flooring in my bathroom, I was lucky enough to have a slight gap between the trim and the plywood under, so I was actually able to slide the flooring a little bit closer to the actual wall, and minimize cutting!

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