Friday, October 7, 2011

Flash Reno: Laminate Flooring

Renovations in my life usually happen quicker than a person can blink. Hence the name: Flash Reno. I'm minding my own business, blogging happily. Then I get up for something innocent like a glass of water, wander past a room in the house, and suddenly I'm moving everything into boxes, ripping up carpet. I usually "come to" when I'm loading the new flooring and paint into my car. Then there's no turning back.

Today's flash reno is something I've been practicing and perfecting as I go: laminate flooring. I know, we all cringe at the word "laminate". But trust me, this was painless (excepting for the backache, which you can soothe with chocolate). I only ask that you really do your research before you embark. Watch a ton of videos, like this one. HGTV is always showing some sort of tips or tricks on this topic.

We've been lucky enough to stay with Jason's mother for the past four months while we save for a home of our own. I've been slowly replacing her rust-colored carpet with laminate wood flooring. This week I decided it was time to do her bedroom. Here is what that frightening carpet looks like:

It's literally 35 years old. It's been through floods and the 80's. It had to go. I took a retractable utility knife to that stuff. Tip: cut it in small pieces and roll them up to make the job easier on your back. Then make sure you take it to the dump.

After this, I swept and vacuumed a lot. If you are working with carpet, you will be left with the lovely slats of tacks (and more dirt) bordering the room:

I used a hammer and a flathead screwdriver to take them up. We have concrete under, and this created little divets from lifting the nails out. No worries. You can fill them with spackling or leave them as is. They're small enough that they will not alter the lay of the flooring, but if you have moisture, you might not want to risk pools of water under your floors. I've also heard you can use a small saw to cut through the nails instead of pulling them out with the hammer.

After that demo, I vacuumed again. Then I removed all the switch plates and cleared all the walls. This is when you want to paint. If you spill, you don't spill on your new floors! When I was done, I went over the floors to make sure they were smooth. You don't want any debris.

Now it's time to add an underlayment (an under-what?). Do your research. Underlayment comes in many forms. Some are waterproof, some are for soundproofing, and some actually come attached to the laminate. I chose one that could be layed in sheets across the floor and sealed between each piece. I felt it would be more waterproof than the separate pieces under the laminate.

Starting to feel more comfy already!

Now it's time to lay some floors! Time to get your tools. Here's all you really need:

#1: A Pullbar: this is the most valuable tool for this project. It's used to tap your pieces into place without damaging the edges. #2: Spacers: you need room for expansion and contraction of your walls! If you live anywhere seasonal you've probably seen your walls expand and contract. I live in Florida, but I leave the space anyway. Spacers also keep other pieces from inching towards the walls when you're tapping other pieces into place. #3: Mr. Hammer: the obvious. He does the tapping.

I started at the doorway. I always start at the doorway. It's easier to start there, just trust me on this. Then cut your pieces as close as you can to fit the door jamb. I left a crack to install a wooden transition.

Now follow your flooring's instructions and install away. I used a compound miter saw to cut the ends to fit and a jig saw to cut the laminate for weird corners and odd shapes. An iPod doc wouldn't hurt, either (I recommend some Ladyhawke). You will then need a nail gun and the miter saw for adding the trim. 

He's my buddy. Anyway, remember those spaces? this is the part where you cover them up (sneaky, right?). I used a 3/4 trim that matched my pre-existing trim. You could remove the trim first before laying the flooring, but I didn't want to risk cracking 35-year-old molding. So I left it. This is pre-painted foam (yes, foam) trim. It matches better than you can see here.

And that's it! Time to make laminate flooring angels, now that my flooring is nice and smooth.



I wish I had dark, nice laminate flooring like yours in my rental. Mine is boring oak.

First time on your blog, found it via Creature Comfort. Will come back, like what I see :-)

Sara said...

did you cut your door jambs?

Amber said...

yes, i had to cut them. I would have liked to have removed them and cut them to size, but they are as old as the house and I was concerned about the wood cracking or breaking.

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