Step 27 – Flooring
There are certain parts of home construction that are tedious and time consuming and can take days or weeks of work with little to show for the hours of labor. On the flip side of that, there are parts that go up quickly and easily, yet make a monumental difference in the way the house looks. Installing laminate wood flooring is one of these. It was absolutely one of the quickest and easiest parts of the build, and yet really changes the house from looking like a construction zone into looking like a real home.
Choosing laminate wood flooring was an easy decision for me as it is easy to install, relatively inexpensive, extremely durable and scratch resistant, and gives you the same look and feel of a hardwood floor as opposed to carpeting or tile. The brand I purchased is safe to use in both wet and dry areas, and could be installed over both concrete or wood subfloors. This was ideal as I could have a consistent flooring material throughout the entire house. The brand I used was also approved by Greenguard as having tested negative for over 10,000 different VOCs (volatile organic compound). The first step in installation of the flooring was to clean and vacuum the slab, and wipe it down with a damp towel.
Although it did not require an underlay, I used one both over the slab and the wood subfloor, primarily to reduce noise transmission. The underlayment is also incredibly easy to install. You simply cut it to fit with a utility knife or scissors and tape the seams with duct tape.
The hardest part of installing laminate flooring is simply remembering which side of the plank to cut. When first getting started I must have cut four or five pieces on the wrong side. This happened because I was laying the next piece down on the subfloor and marking the spot that I would need to cut. The problem with that is each piece of laminate flooring has an interlocking edge, so if you cut on the line you will remove the interlocking edge that you need to fit into the previous plank. This was easily avoidable by measuring the correct length needed, and then transferring that measurement to the opposite side of the plank. This way, the cut part goes against the wall and the other side still has an interlocking edge to lock into the previous plank.
To interlock the planks, you simply line up the edges and then tap them into place with a hammer and a metal bar. The bar ensures that the hammer doesn’t destroy the wood on the interlocking edge. There is no hammering or gluing or screwing necessary. It really is that easy. You can also use the bar to pull the pieces together when you are up against a wall.
You can do long sections really quickly because there is no cutting involved. Simply lay the planks down and hammer them together. Below you can see how I can lay down the next twelve planks without any cutting.
I was really pleased with the way the flooring turned out, and so far it seems to really be holding up well to foot traffic. That having said, you never really know until it has a few years under its belt…