Hardwood Floor Installation Part I

J and I found a great sale on the hardwood floors that we loved at Lumber Liquidators. Problem was, we were told the floor must be installed glued down. In order to glue down a click-lock hardwood floor, the concrete slab must be almost perfect. Since we had no idea what our foundation looked like under the vinyl and berber carpet we figured it would be a good idea to pull it up and see what we had. We had made the decision to replace the baseboards so that made pulling everything up much simpler.

Obviously the carpet in the living room pulled up very easily. There were a few spots the carpet nails had slightly damaged the slab but easily could be patched. The problem was the sheet vinyl that had been glued down. After a full day, J had only a very small portion of the kitchen pulled up. With a small chisel we worked to chip away but it wasn’t working. The next day J went to Lowes and got some adhesive remover which didn’t help much. Finally they decided to rent a hammer drill with a scraping bit to get the sheet vinyl and glue backing up. This was still a loud, messy and long process, but after about 3 days the floor was clean! During this time we had to move all our furniture out onto our back porch (enclosed sunroom) and live in our bedroom.

Here is J on the machine finishing up in the pantry.
P7130495

This is what the mess looked like, those shavings are actually the glue that was on the back of the sheet vinyl.

P7130494

We lived like this for about a week while we got things cleaned up and finalized our decision to purchase the wood. J looked at our slab and realized there was so slope to it and we were a bit nervous with the thought of gluing something back down after all the mess we had just dealt with. After a little bit more research and a call to the Shaw Flooring manufacturers, we found out that the Ventura flooring could be installed floating. That sealed the deal for us! It would make installation much easier (just glue the joints) and if we ever needed to replace a section or replace all of it, we wouldn’t have to go through that demolition again! Unfortunately, we had to let the new wood sit indoors for about a week before we could lay it. That meant another week without furniture!

On a the Saturday morning before I went to Seattle, J and I started laying out the underlayment (moisture barrier and padding) and his dad came over to help us with the installation!

Silly us, we laid about half of the padding down before we realized it was upside down!

P7240507

After flipping it over and duct taping the seams, we were about ready to go!

P7240510
The white boxes back there is the 800 square feet of flooring!

While J and his dad were figuring out the pattern, I worked on laying out the boards so that we mixed up the boxes and they could select the boards they wanted to use. Any board I was not happy with I set aside to be returned or used in a corner as scrap.

P7240517

And as soon as they got the pattern figured out, we started seeing some progress!

P7240518

At this point, I left for Seattle!!! Part II coming soon!

Our Engineered Hardwood Floors

J and I received a very generous amount of money as wedding presents and one of the things we really wanted to do with the house was instal hardwood floors.  When we first bought the house, we knew this was going to have to be done relatively soon.  The great room was divided in half with the foyer kitchen and hallway with a very plain stained sheet vinyl and the other half in a very cheap berber carpet.  The carpet had shades of gray and blue in it and got stained VERY easily.  Even after carpet cleaning, it would get dirty immediately afterwards.

So we had the big decision of what type of floors to install.  We love the idea of tile because of the durability and price but it didn’t fit the style of our ranch style home.  We obviously didn’t want to go back to a vinyl or carpet so it really left us with the hardwood option.  In the hardwood market right now there seemed to be three options, real hardwood plank floors, engineered hardwood floors, and laminate floors.  We had a hard time deciding but actually found a good process which really helped.

We would have loved to go with real plank wood floors but the cheapest option was still far out of our price range.  Additionally, true hardwood plank floors should be installed on a wood subfloor and we had a concrete slab floor.  In order to install the solid planks we would have to lay 1/4″ plywood below the 1/4″ planks.  That would have raised our flooring 1/2″ and we would have had to redo all our doors as well.  This option did not meet price or practicality so obviously this wasn’t an option for us.

Engineered hardwood floors have several different options in this category but basically it is a thin layer of real hard wood backed by plywood.  Typically this can be installed by the typical DIYer because it has the click grooves installed.  The biggest benefit to this style flooring is that it is real wood so it has a very nice appearance and is a great selling feature.  However, because this is real hardwood there are still downfalls.  First, the price is still expensive because its real wood.  Secondly, because its real wood it also can scratch very easily.  Since the engineered floor is only a thin layer of real wood it can only be sanded so many times (approx 2-3).  So, you get a really nice wood appearance but still some downfalls.

Laminate floor was not really our favorite but since its such a popular item we felt we really should look into it and give it a fair chance.  The biggest reason we loved the idea of laminate is because of its durability.  It doesn’t scratch like real wood from normal wear and tear but can be subject to big scratches like from moving furniture.  However, we really weren’t loving the look of many laminates.  It felt like many of the products we looked at would have the right grain and color but put together just looked either too cheap or too modern for our home.  We wanted the rustic classic feel real wood brought.  Some new laminate products are starting to have beveled edges and texture “embossed in-register” (grain texture on the actual plank) which really helps make it look like real wood but the price also increases to around the price of engineered wood floor.

So in the end we chose an engineered hardwood floor that we found on sale at Lumber Liquidators. The price was cheaper than the laminate floors we were looking at and we just couldn’t imagine spending that much money on “fake wood”.   The floor is made by Shaw Floors, their Ventura line (no longer around), called Antique Brass Maple.  It has a handscraped finish and was able to be installed floating!  J and his dad did most of the installation so I will post more about that later!   Here is a picture of the wood!