Laminate flooring is easy to install and thousands of homeowners and contractors turn to it every day to give a room a new look. But more ambitious installations, such as laying the material down an entire floor of a house or finishing a large basement, can harm your power tools and their blades. The reason is simple, but little debated: Laminate flooring is made from materials, including tough plastic resins and limestone powder, that dull even tough carbide-tipped blades so quickly you can hardly believe it. This quickly becomes apparent on large jobs when, to speed things up, you cut stacked pieces of laminate flooring at the same time. Known as gang cutting, this can stop a dull saw blade in its tracks, leaving an incomplete slice with you.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on equipment to handle even a heavy floor job. However, you need to buy the right tools and accessories. And you can get a double header if the tools you buy for flooring installation serve other purposes in your DIY activities. To help you get the upper hand and keep cutting, here’s a list of power tools and specialty saw blades that help you make smooth, precise and fast cuts in tough laminate flooring.
- An economical 7.25-inch circular saw: Skil 5280-01
- An unstoppable 7.25-inch circular saw blade: DeWalt DWA3193PCD
- The jigsaw for perfect notches and curves: Bosch JS365
- A laminate-specific jigsaw blade: Bosch T128BHM3
- A specially designed laminate saw: Ryobi PGC21B
An economical 7.25 inch circular saw
There are many specialty tools that will speed up the job of laminate flooring, such as a table saw, miter saw, or parquet saw. But if your budget is tight, you can get by with a circular saw. Use the saw to make the rip cut along the length of the board to make the narrow flooring piece where it runs parallel to a wall. Use the saw again when you need to shorten the flooring where it meets a wall and when you stagger the end joints on the flooring pieces so they don’t line up.
We were amazed when we tested the Skil 5280-01. It’s blown away every other model in its price range, and it should provide you with plenty of cuts on other construction projects long after the laminate flooring job is done.
An unstoppable 7.25 inch circular saw blade
You can get by with a standard carbide tipped saw blade for smaller jobs. But for a larger installation, you need a really tough blade, like DeWalt’s with just four teeth, each made from the fusion of industrial polycrystalline diamond (also called PCD) grit. We haven’t tested this particular blade yet, but we’ve used others with PCD teeth – they’re as tough as any material we’ve seen. This DeWalt blade is designed not only for laminate flooring, but also for cutting cement board flooring, another of the toughest building materials.
The puzzle for perfect notches and curves
It’s not uncommon for you to need to cut notches and curves in laminate flooring, and the tool to do that is a jigsaw. Few companies have spent as much time perfecting the tool as Bosch. We tested the predecessor to the JS365, and nothing else came close in terms of lack of vibration, power, cutting speed, and ease of handling. Like the Skil saw above, it will prove useful for years after laminate flooring is finished, as you will use it to cut wood, steel, ceramic tile and plastic tubing and made of metal.
A laminate-specific jigsaw blade
Along with the engineering and product development that Bosch has invested in jigsaws, it has put the same effort behind jigsaw blades, which is why the company offers so many variations for every material and material combination imaginable. . This carbide-tipped blade for laminate floors has teeth pointing in both directions (towards the base of the blade and towards its tip). This blade configuration (we know of no other like it) is designed to provide a clean cut in the toughest laminate flooring and reduce chipping along the top edge. This is especially important in the rare case where the edge of the flooring will not be covered, as occurs in most situations where the flooring butts up to a wall and then is covered either by the shoe molding or by the plinth moulding, or by both. Instances where the cut edge of flooring will remain exposed are where it is cut around studs, kitchen islands, and some wall peninsulas that do not have baseboard trim at their ends.
A saw specially designed for laminate floors
Ryobi’s laminate flooring saw is a 2022 Tool Awards winner, which is no small feat. (You can read our full review here.) The 18-Volt Power Tool is specifically designed and priced for homeowners taking on their first laminate floor job and who likely don’t own any type of power saw (table saw, circular saw, etc.) or miter saw) to facilitate the work. We tested it and found it to be surprisingly easy to use, accurate and compact, so you can store it on a shelf in the garage or workshop with all of its accessories snapping onto its base. It makes even more sense if you already own Ryobi 18-Volt power tools, saving you from having to buy a battery and charger as well.
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