Monday, March 12, 2012

Installing laminate flooring

 Our living room carpet has seen better days. With three small children, it was cozy for them, but very stained. Our oldest son has a severe allergy to dust mites, and we wanted him to feel better hanging out, so we wanted something other than carpet for our living room. Then we saw an awesome deal on laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators. We scored the swedish maple flooring for .39 cents a square foot. Crazyness! So the whole room was around $112. Oh, plus we had to buy two rolls of foam underlayment which were $15 per roll.  Oh and don't forget the $75 for the quarter round and three vent covers for $12 each. Ok, so there are always costs that come up that you don't initially anticipate. Here is our room, with most of the furniture relocated.

And another view from the other side.  We had to leave our computer armoire in the room, since it was just too heavy to move and Joe wanted to listen to Podcasts while he worked on the floors. So, he pulled up the carpet and foam padding from one end of the room, put down the flooring, then shifted everything to finish the job on the other half of the room.

Joe sealed off the room with big sheets of plastic to prevent dust entering the rest of the house.  Then he got to work lifting the carpet from it's seams and rolling it up. This part is pretty easy.

Once all the carpet and foam padding were removed, Joe swept everything up and made sure the floor was clean and smooth. He had to hammer down or remove any staples used to anchor the carpet padding. Next he got to work laying the foam, using tape to secure the pieces together.

When working around the three vents in the room, he cut out rectangles in the foam.  Joe worked on half of the room first, then when he was ready for the other half, we both had to ease the big roll of carpet out of our window. Lucky for us, we just posted an ad on craigslist for free carpet and within a few days something came to pick it up.  Don't you just love craigslist?

An important thing to note is that the professionals recommend letting your flooring acclimate to the climate of your house for three weeks before getting started.  Flooring will expand and contract with heat and cold so this is an important step.  Also, he carefully measured the room's width and length, accounting for alcoves, fireplace, and any other floor features that deviated from the rectangle. He then divided these distances by the width or length (as appropriate) of one plank of flooring, making note of the remainder (the fraction of a full plank dimension to cover the floor). It turned out that the width of our room was such that if we started with full planks on one end, the last plank width at the very end would be just a hair more than one inch, which just wouldn't lock in flat. However, cutting the first set of planks in half across their length (rip cutting them) would allow a five inch wide piece on the other end. You can see one full plank, and a stack of the rip cut pieces that we used along the first wall.

For tools, he used a mitre saw, a jigsaw, clamps, a level, a soft hammer, and a measuring tape. He did most of the sawing outside just because of the dust. To rip cut, he marked the cut line using a long straightedge (a spare flooring piece also works), then measured 1.25" from that line, which is the width of the guard on the circular saw, marking this on both ends. He then clamped a spare piece of siding to line up to second pair of lines. This allowed a rail against the circular saw guard to keep the circular saw going straight, giving fantastic lines. He raised the flooring up on a pair of wood boards, with the cut line in the gap between them. This gave some space for the blade to cut through the board without having to cut through additional material.

The laminate is tongue and groove construction that floats on the ground, so you simply lay each piece down and fit it into the existing piece. Some laminate is installed piece by piece, first clicking it into place on the groove of the previous row, then tapping it to slide into the groove of the adjacent piece of the same row. However, this laminate system requires you to first assemble an entire row, then lock it all into place at once. A bit of a hassle (especially working solo), but hopefully it prevents separation between boards in a row, which we see with the other laminate.

Here is the first part of the floors done.  Looking good right? The wall on the left is actually a bit concave, but it fortunately wasn't bad enough to necessitate curved cuts of the first row of boards.

This area of the room is our laundry area, so Joe removed our washing machine and dryer and did the flooring here. There was actually laminate flooring already here, but it was over two layers of vinyl flooring, so Joe had extra layers to remove here.

Clear tape was used to hold pieces of flooring together to keep them from moving while Joe continued to lay the flooring.

Here is the room totally finished except for the quarter round edges.  Ah, a breath of fresh air don't you think? I am in love at this point.

Another view of the room. We think it looks great with the gray walls.

And one more final shot for ya.  Who wants to start dancing?  My kids were loving this room for a few days before the furniture was returned.

Stay tuned for more living room updates.



Unknown said...

Hei! I just found your blog and it is amazing!

I am following your blog and I hope you will follow mine too!

Ana V

Sarni said...

Looks Really Good you two. Such a TEAM!

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