Hi folks! So glad you can join me for another DIY as I continue working on fixing up mom and pop’s place!
About a year ago I started ripping up the dirty old carpet and laying laminate floors in their home. I finished the large family room and a guest bedroom and then I took a break. A very long break.
The thing is that laying floors means semi-chaos in the rest of the house since all the furniture has to be completely removed from one room and placed everywhere else.
I mean, this is what the family room looked like while I was working on the latest round of flooring installation…
Can you say ‘OYE!’ (I probably should be embarrassed to show you that. Oh well.) And the room stayed like that for a week until I could get “boy”** back to the house to help me put everything back in place.
[**Explanation of boy’s nickname: boy is my little brother. I’m the middle kid and boy is seven years younger than me. When boy came home from the hospital, this newly-made middle child (poor little me) went through serious middle child syndrome. So my smart [email protected]@ self decided that the new boy was not deserving of a name and he simply became “boy” to me. (Notice he’s not even capitalized.) Now, of course, I love my little bro like so totally much and “boy” is just an amusing, yet loving nickname.]
So I have to choose any major installation timing wisely. Luckily, timing was on my side at the moment since my dad was not going to be home for a bit. So I was able to get another room done while he was gone. Here’s the room after I pulled up the ugly carpet…
Now, onto the transformation…
First, you’re gonna need some stuff…
1. New laminate flooring. I got a terrific deal on a floating maple laminate floor. Floating refers to the floor not being glued down. It simply sits or “floats” on the existing floor.
2. Underlayment. The underlayment serves two major purposes. First, it acts as a sound dampener so you don’t have that hollow clip-clopping sound when you walk on the floor. Second, it acts as a moisture barrier. Most underlayment comes in rolls, but I really like this Blue Hawk underlayment that I found at Lowes because it doesn’t constantly roll up when I’m trying to lay it out and it’s really easy to cut.
3. Mallet (or hammer)
4. Pull bar
5. Utility knife
6. Tapping block
8. Carpenter square (or T-Square)
9. PVC tape
Now, before you start your installation, the first thing you need to do is let your new laminate acclimate. Laminate will expand and contract based on the moisture in your home. So cut open any plastic wrapping and simply let your laminate sit for several days before you get started. (Umm, did I say mine sat for about a year…cringe.)
When you’re ready to install, start with the underlayment.
So let’s take a moment talk underlayment…
One side of the underlayment is foam. The other is the waterproof side.
The foam side faces DOWN. I repeat. The foam side faces DOWN!!!
Yes, please learn from my mistake. I shamefully admit that the first time I installed laminate, I put the underlayment in upside down. Halfway through the job I actually read the instructions (yes, I’m also guilty of not always reading instructions) and had to take everything apart, turn over the underlayment and start again. So, did I tell you that the FOAM SIDE FACES DOWN!
If you choose the same underlayment that I used, you’ll see that it fits nicely together with interlocking puzzle-like edges and has a flap on the end with a peel and stick edge that attaches to the adjacent piece, keeping the entire surface water proof.
If you end up with underlayment joints where the peel and stick edge doesn’t meet up, then use the PVC tape to seal those joints.
Once you get your underlayment installed, it’s time to start putting together the laminate boards.
Floating laminate boards attach together with tongue and groove joints.
Install your first board with the tongue sides facing the walls.
This is another learning/teaching moment from my first installation. So I repeat. Install your first board with the tongue sides facing the walls.
The reason you want the tongue facing the walls is because when you attach the second board to the first board, you will need to place the tapping block at the end of the second board…
…and give it a few taps with your mallet or hammer to close the joint of the adjoining boards. You will want the tapping block on a groove side because if you hammer on a tongue side you will end up smashing down the tongue and it will be really hard to get the joints tights. (I’m not going to tell you how I know this. So let’s just keep it at that.)
When you get to the end of the first row, you’ll likely have to cut a board to fit. On my first installation I rented a laminate cutter from Home Depot which basically looked like a giant paper cutter. This time around, they were no longer renting them. So I used a miter to cut the boards.
The problem with the miter is that the cut only goes about 3/4 of the way through the board. Then I had to turn the board around the cut the other side. But I suppose that wasn’t too big of a deal and other than that, it worked great.
The easiest way to measure your board to fit those ends is to skip the tape measure and…
…simply lay the board you’ll cut over that end area and use your carpenter square to mark your cut.
Now, I’m going to backtrack for a second before any cutting takes place.
Even though you’ve acclimated your laminate, like wood flooring, laminate will still continue to expand and contract based on the humidity levels in your home. So, when installing laminate you will need to leave a 1/4″ to 3/8″ boarder around the edge of the room to give the flooring room for expansion. That’s where the spacers come in.
(BTW, I painted the room in between all of this, so those moldings are no longer all shamefully icky looking.)
To give yourself the appropriate boarder, place your spacers between your laminate and your wall. At the end of the job, just pull them out. (The empty boarder will then be covered with some quarter round molding.)
So now that you’ve placed your spacers and cut your end piece, you’ll notice that there’s not enough room on the end to place your tapping block.
No worries. That’s where the pull bar comes in. Hook the pull bar onto the edge against the wall and hammer the opposite end to pull the boards together.
Then it’s time to start on the second row.
You will want to stagger the boards so that you’re not always starting with the same length board.
To start the second row, insert the tongue of the new board, on a diagonal, into the groove of the first row board.
Then press down.
You’re second row board will lock right into place.
And you’re floor will start looking like this (yay!)…
I had to make some odd-shaped cuts around the closet opening…
For those, I used a jig saw.
When you get to the far end of your room, there’s a good change you’ll have to cut a board length-wise to fit. Again, I used a jigsaw for that. Don’t worry if the cut isn’t perfectly straight because as I mentioned earlier, you’ll be covering the edges with quarter round molding when you’re finished.
One thing I like to do when putting in that last edge piece is to glue it in with liquid nails or wood glue, just so it stays locked and secure. You don’t have to do this. It’s simply my perference.
Now, here comes the part that I consider a little bit challenging: installing around door jambs.
Door jambs are my nemesis.
The first thing you want to do with the door jamb is cut the bottom off so that your laminate will be able to slide under the door jamb.
You can use an undercut saw to cut the bottom of the door jamb. They come in manual and electric. I, however, use my Dremel Multimax tool which comes with an undercut blade. (Seriously, I love my Dremels. They do EVERYTHING!)
To cut the door jamb, take a piece of scrap laminate and lay it on the floor next to the door jamb. This will give you a guide for the correct thickness of your cut.
Place your cutting instrument on top of the scrap laminate and make your cut.
Use a screw driver to dig out the cut pieces of your door frame.
Now, I have another teaching moment for you. When cutting your laminate to fit the door jamb, this is bad…
This is good…
Basically, I over cut the first time around and what I really needed to do was to cut that edge on an angle.
You will want your laminate to fit under the door jamb. In order to get it under there you will need to install this piece a little differently.
You will need to remove the tongue from this final piece. I cut the tongue off with my jigsaw.
Once the tongue is removed, apply a bead of liquid nails or wood glue to the joint between the two boards.
Start installing the final piece by first sliding it under the door jamb. Then push the opposite end down. Next, use your tapping block and hammer to push the two pieces together. You may need to rig something up to hold the two pieces together until the glue adheres.
But when you’re done, you’ll have a beautiful new floor!
And now that you have a beautiful floor, you’ll want to get rid of your popcorn ceilings. So check out How To Remove Popcorn Ceilings In 30 Minutes!
Then give your furniture a fun makeover with this Shabby Chic Dresser Makeover Using Looking Glass Paint!
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This post linked to some of these totally fabulous blogs and Remodelaholic.