At the same time we did the tile, we also replaced all the flooring downstairs. The existing flooring was not much better than the tile we had ripped out. The laminate was very thin and inexpensive oak and the carpet, while not very old, was poor quality as well. We went shopping for materials right at the end of the year and lucked out with a few good sales enabling us to get all the supplies 1,250 sq ft of flooring for about $3,000. From a time perspective it took us six days to do 1,000 feet of laminate in four rooms. We did the living room, family room and kitchen all at the same time and went back another Sunday to finish the den.
When we pulled the laminate up it because very obvious how shoddy the install was.
We had a lot of time to think about the flooring and had decided to replace the tile in the kitchen with laminate to create a more cohesive space. How our house is designed, there’s not a straight line between the kitchen and the family room to change flooring on. Previously, the tile of the kitchen came out about two feet into the laminate space so when you walked into the great room, you saw laminate and then tile. I didn’t like this. So we removed both laminate (easy) and tile (hard) to go with a single surface solution.
The tile in the kitchen had a long crack in it. We learned from the next door neighbors that the floor had cracked within the first year of the home being built- just typical settling. The original owners filed a warranty claim. Being an insurance company, the problem was fixed as inexpensively as possible by removing the broken tiles and putting down a ton of thinset to “level” the floor before putting new tiles down. The crack wasn’t ground down or filled and sure enough- it cracked again, only this time it cracked out of warranty. We fixed it right before putting down the new floor.
Of all the jobs we’ve done, laminate is the one thing I wouldn’t do again. Well, let me clarify. I would not do a complicated room like our kitchen again. There were so many cuts and measurements plus an unlevel wall that I was very close to giving up. Even now, I’m not 100% satisfied with the job. If it’s a fairly rectangular wall, like our living room or den, laminate is easy. But for a complex room- hire an expert.
The laminate we went with was a 12mm with an attached pad. We purchased an additional pad to try and remove the hollow sound that laminates can have. However, after finishing the formal, we decided we didn’t like it. The floor felt springy and unnatural. We returned the rest of the pad and went forward using just a moisture barrier.
The first- and most important- step for wood/laminate flooring is measuring. You want to make sure to end with a wide enough plank to be able to take the stresses of expansion and contraction (check manufacturers recommendations). This is easier said than done when dealing with a room with as many contours as our kitchen and family room. In the end, we were off. And I just pray this doesn’t cause us trouble down the road.
After we measured and remeasured we came up with a plan and set to work. Only the plan was stalled when the floor started to become crooked. We discovered at that point that our starting wall was not straight. We cut the first row of boards at a slight angle to solve this problem and then we really started to fly.
The most important lesson I learned from this project is that proper measurements cannot be stressed The most important lesson I learned from this project is that proper measurements cannot be stressed enough. As it got late and we got tired we started getting sloppy and just assumed that baseboards would hide our mistakes. Well, we were wrong, and it wasn’t until everything was in and we went back to do the baseboards did we realize this. Yes, your edges don’t have to be perfect, but don’t forget that baseboards are only a quarter inch thick. They won’t hide much, so measure and measure again and do what ever you can to make sure your cuts are correct because it will cause you move trouble later on if they aren’t. To check if something will be covered by a baseboard, carry a piece of old board with you and place it up against the wall. If there is any gap, cut again. It is worth it in the long run.