Friday, May 18, 2012

Our Floors: Before & After

I have mentioned our new wood floors many times on this blog but I never got around to doing a comprehensive post on the whole process. That means that this post is as much for you lovely readers as it is for us, a way of documenting the process as well as the photos, which of course we all love.

Now let's start from the very beginning. We knew when we moved in that we wanted to redo the entire first floor's flooring. We had a mixture of carpet, tile, and old hardwood in just four rooms so by unifying every room with the same flooring we opened up the spaces and now they flow into each other oh so nicely. This also helped to modernize the house which still sported original (but in very bad shape) wood floors.

We found this beautiful Praline Birch engineered hardwood flooring on sale from Lumber Liquidators back in August of 2011, just one month after moving in.

Before we could install them though we decided to have as many family members as we could sign our old floors, which will be pretty fun to find if/when the next owners decide to rip out our handiwork.

Then came installation, a very happy day!

After numerous recommendations we decided to go with the "floating" method of installation which means that our floors are not glued or nailed down. The red material is Airguard underlayment which simply gets stapled to the floors and the seams have a sticky side so they are completely air tight, which helps with the mildew prevention as well as sound dampening and cushion.

We decided to reuse our original moldings since 1) it was free and 2) they were already cut and ready to go so after they were removed I sanded and repainted them all-- of course after marking on the walls and each molding where they belonged! A very important step if you value your sanity at all.

And of course you have to see what happens when you redo your entire first floor-- the stuff needs to be shifted from room to room before it can all be put back in its proper place.

And finally, the fun stuff. The Before and Afters:

Living Room:
The previous owners' things

After carpet was removed, revealing unsightly patched floor

Dining Room:


Mid tile removal

Most recently with moldings in place

Office/Guest Room:

After carpet removal

Landing (base of stairs, between Dining Room and Kitchen):


There you have it! It was a long and tedious process, definitely stressful at times, but in the end it was all worth it. The installation took us a little less than a month: we started October 18th and finally laid the last board in the kitchen November 14th. That timeline is of course based on the two of us being first time DIY-ers, working 40 hour weeks, and doing the floors a couple nights a week or on weekends with the help of a few friends. If you had the time and just a little bit of know-how you probably could have done the work in less than one week. However for us it was a 100% learning curve since we had no experience laying floors in the past. And now that we've done the work, we love our new floors and would do it all over in a heartbeat (although we're glad we won't be any time soon)!

What we learned along the way:

  • The floating method worked out great for us. If we laid a board and needed to shift it later on we still could, versus if we glued or nailed each one down. The only drawback is that a couple of the boards shifted ever so slightly over time and we had to go back and nail those down to keep them in place. When we got to the kitchen installation (the last room we did) we decided to use a little Liquid Nails and glue down every other board just to be sure things were in place and weren't going anywhere! If we ever do this again (or if you decide to) I definitely recommend gluing down the boards every so often. 
  • Another thing we did which probably led to the shifting of our floors is that when you lay the boards up against the wall you are supposed to leave a slight gap between the floors and the wall for expansion purposes (otherwise your floors could swell in the summer and buckle). We did this, but we did it all around the room, meaning the floors had more wiggle room than they really needed. What we should have done was leave the gap only on two of the four walls so there is still room for expansion but not too much room as to cause shifting.
  • One last thing we realized was that one whole day of work was much better than a few sporadic hours during the week. This may seem like a no-brainer but we got more work done on a Sunday from 2-10 than we did throughout all the rest of the installation process. So if you're planning to install floors (or do any big project really) try to gather your crew and set aside an entire day (like a Saturday or Sunday) to get as much work done as possible. People are much more motivated to keep working when they've already got a lot done rather than coming in just for a few hours at a time.

If you wanna catch up on specific posts pertaining to our floors, check these out:

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