Tuesday February 17, 2004

Harry and Harriet Homeowner Do Laminate Flooring!

When we bought our house, it was not a fixer-upper. There were only a few things about it we wanted to change right at the beginning (such as the one wall of really ugly wall paper in the living room that came done the very next weekend). We've made some improvements over the years, but nothing major was required at the outset. AUT_2363

However, when we moved in, the kitchen and dining area were covered with cheap (thin, fuzzy, foam-backed, no pile) industrial carpeting. Now, carpet in a kitchen isn't a very good idea. First we had one major spill - chicken broth :-( - and then we discovered that the ice maker in the fridge was leaking. So up came the carpet in that area and down went "temporary" vinyl tile squares.

Over more time, the carpet and its foam backing material parted company, so the carpet in the dining area kept suffering "slippage". Chair legs would push it and tear a hole. Eventually, about 4 years ago, we tore out most of the carpet (except for under one or two heavy pieces of furniture) and scraped up the foam backing which was stuck to the linoleum flooring underneath. It was a nasty job but eventually accomplished. Then we lived with an ugly but very serviceable linoleum floor (ugly because it was still coated with a very thin layer of glue and grey foam dust).

Finally, this year, Rich has a good contract and we decided to re-floor the kitchen and dining room area. We chose Armstrong wood look laminate, in snap-lock boards.

This being a three-day weekend (what with President's Day on Monday) we decided to embark upon the kitchen/dining room reflooring project Saturday through Monday.


AUT_2373 After dinner we went to Lowes where we bought 25 boxes of snap together Armstrong Swiftlock laminate wood flooring - specifically TimberRidge Heirloom Hickory - 7 pieces per carton. If we've miscalculated or lose too much in cutting, there was plenty more at the store.

Getting those boxes into the car was... interesting (they did fit). Driving home was more interesting; my right foot decided it wanted to cramp, so we switched drivers. Then the road was under construction and we got (accidentally) detoured north when we needed to go west. More traffic snarls coming south again and finally we were on our way home. We unloaded the boxes into the house so they didn't take any damp overnight.

Rich carried boxes as far as the porch, then I carried them up the stairs and put them on a rolling pallet; half on each of two pallets. The boxes say they weigh 20 pounds but they are 50 inches long and 4 wide so depending how you hold them they're heavy.


AUT_2360 After a nourishing breakfast (:-) we started moving furniture. First, of course, we sequestered the cats — one of the best features of this house is the many doors that can be closed to block off various sections of the house. With Mezzaluna downstairs and the boys snoozing in the bedroom, we got to it.

We unscrewed the cat tree from the wall and moved it to the center of the room; moved the cat's counter into the living room; moved the small hutch into the living room. We moved the cereal cabinet and the display cabinet into the middle of the dining room; too hard to move anywhere else.

Rich had taken apart the dining table last night (unfortunately, one of the brackets holding one of the legs broke; the legs had loosened badly and it wobbled too much when he upended it :-( He'll fix that, but we've decided not to put the table back together right away; we'll leave it knocked down. It's the only table we have that's sort of designed to be knocked down. Then we'll bring up the table I've been using in the laundry room, and the spare we have that's just like it. So instead of a 3' x 5' table that seats 6 tightly we'll have a 4' x 5' table that seats 6 more comfortably and has a smooth flat surface on top.

We tore up the last two strips of carpet (easy) then spent a couple of hours scraping up the dried foam (hard and arduous). Rich did the part that had been under the display cabinet and I did the part that had been under the cat's counter and cat tree. Gaaah. Rich got the last of the foam under the counter behind the stove. Then he went around and removed all of the baseboard molding. We marked the strips so we could put them back and removed all of the nails. They used much too large and too long nails for those strips!


AUT_2362Last night we discussed the possibility of replacing the baseboard molding with something newer and less... tacky looking. Today after breakfast we went to Lowes (hardware store), where we found the niftiest pre-made imitation wood grain molding strips! They seem to be made of some hard foam; maybe a foam/sawdust combination. They're 7' long. They come in several different shades of brown and levels of "grain".

We picked a perfectly inoffensive pattern, about the same size as the old molding. Rich carried a piece over and laid it next to the display pieces of the wood flooring we're using ; it's a fine match. We bought 13 strips (which did fit in the car :-) Neat stuff. I'm quite pleased. I had been hoping, with all of the new building materials they keep coming out with, that we'd find a choice of something like this. I love fake wood. no stain needed, pre-shaped, light weight, relatively inexpensive, and looks just like wood from three feet away.

We also bought a bunch of furniture glides to attach to the bottoms of the cabinets, tables, chairs, etc. to help prevent scratches on the new flooring. We had some difficulty figuring out what to use for my red glass display cabinet; then Rich got inventive with polyethylene (Teflon like) for glides. Very nice, with counter-sunk screws.

Installing the flooring planks isn't particularly difficult, once one gets the hang of it. After we figured out the technique, things went pretty smoothly (for a DIY project we'd never tried before!). I actually figured out the how of it (pretty nearly) before I found the instructions (printed in 6-point type on the back of the product package label). Compared to installing ceramic tile (with mortar) which we did in the sunroom some years back, this is a no-brainer. (Even when I understood how to do the tile I never really got a feel for it).

AUT_2366AUT_2367Rich and I worked out a good division of labor. He cuts and I piece. Rich is doing very well with the saw; the cuts are very clean. The saw has a laser to help cut very straight lines. Quite nice.

This stuff has to be installed from left to right, so we decided to start in the space usually occupied by the refrigerator. When we get the kitchen finished, we can put the fridge back). We keep needing to have some pieces cut, either to go around a corner or to offset the boards a bit so they look "realistic" and not really stupid. AUT_2358

We worked laying flooring from 3:30 to 9. We got most of the kitchen area covered; perhaps three rows left to go. The rows extend to the south wall, a bit in front of the fireplace. We should get a lot more done tomorrow.

The cats were cute when we let them out. They'd been calling (especially Raven) for a couple of hours but they were very cautious coming up the stairs, looking everywhere.



After breakfast, we sequestered the cats for the day and got going again on the floor. We finished the kitchen and a bit more; then Rich started working on the molding strips for behind the fridge. It took him a while to get the hang of how to miter the edges of the strips, so I took a break.

AUT_2365 AUT_2364 After he got the molding cut and installed, he called up a neighbor to come help with the refrigerator. We got it moved back into its normal space, so the kitchen is largely done (still molding strips to do though).

Then we powered on and did a bunch of long runs.

We were lucky with the heating vent; the boards fit around it very well.


Eventually we had covered half of the dining room, then stopped to move the two large cabinets out of the way. We carefully yooksed them up onto the new flooring (on towels; even with the glides we're being cautious). Then we moved both cabinets out of the way and kept working to the edge of the next cabinet, a "desk"-like affair with a space under it for shallow sliding shelves (temporarily removed).

Again we were lucky with where the edges came out (there was an edge parallel to the front edge of the desk base!). We didn't bother to alternate boards under the desk, just cut to width and put them together.

Eventually we got to the far wall... and then the doorway...

AUT_2370 AUT_2372

and then we were FINISHED!

We had one oops; the spacing at the screen porch end got wonky and we have too much of a gap. Damn. Rich will cut small pieces to fit and we'll get wider molding. Rich is thinking of something slightly ramped. The screen porch sill is really too tall.

We were finished at 9pm. Rich took a shower; I let the cats out. Again, they were none too sure about coming upstairs; after all it had been very noisy and strange all day. Even Raven, who had been crying for an hour, would have preferred that I come downstairs. He was somewhat concerned about coming upstairs.

AUT_2371 The cats investigated the new floor; I cleaned up a bit (including vacuuming a lot of sawdust (but not all of it) in the screen porch. The screen porch is still off limits to the kitties until we're completely done with cutting and piecing molding and such. The cat's cabinet and cat tree are still in the living room; two big cabinets are in the middle of the dining room and we have no dining room table. But we're most of the way through the project.

Harry and Harriet Homeowner Do Laminate Flooring! ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Tue, 17 Feb, 23:22 Pacific | «e»