Sunday, February 24, 2013

Our new DIY flooring

Hey y'all!

When people come over these days, they're always a bit shocked and say that it feels like we have a whole new house.

I secretly suspect that it's because of our new floors.  Here's the scoop:



When we first moved in, there was gnarly carpeting everywhere.  See?




A few months later, we tore it all out and discovered original thin-planked oak hardwood floors, that had been refinished and varnished just before the carpet was laid down about 40 years prior.  Excellent find!  Creaky, and needed a major clean-up, but charming.

Surprise!
In the kitchen, old beige linoleum gleamed like the day it was laid down.  Soft and warm underfoot, it's also easy to clean, so I didn't mind it at all.



Problem was, over the next few years our misbehaved dogs always relieved themselves in the same area in the dining room, creating deep dark stains in the wood.  A few flooring professionals told us that even if we sanded them way down and refinished them very dark (which was going to cost us a pretty penny), we'd never be able to get rid of those stains... plus the dogs would still be able to smell their spot, and would go again and damage it some more :(

Ahh, the things we do for our furkids!


And this is only one part of the stain...

Also, we didn't want to darken the floors, were hoping to brighten up the area -- kinda like in this place:

 

In addition, we had a giant ugly hole where a wall used to be, and trying to find a seamless match of tiny wood pieces to fill it was next to impossible.

Yuck!  And baby kept tripping on this ugly hole!
 

So we plotted and planned (and budgeted!) for several months before arriving at the following plan of action, which we knew was a big deal because it involved the entire main level of the house:

1.  Remove the kitchen's linoleum floors.
2.  Install new sub-flooring to the entire surface of the main floor (living/dining/entry way), bringing it level to the kitchen.
3.  Drill extra screws into the floors to silence the 100's of loud creaks (so loud they can wake up the baby!).
4.  Make the kitchen/dining/living space appear larger by unifying them with one type of flooring.
5.  Make the front entry and closed vestibule feel larger by giving them their own flooring.

And it was all to be done by my husband and me.

 

The Search Is On


We searched for flooring options that were scratch-resistant, waterproof, and easy to clean.  Installation had to be DIY-able, and within budget.  Oh, and it had to be pretty.

Tiles were considered, but since we have little ones who spend a lot of time on the ground, we felt it was a bit too cold and hard -- not to mention costly -- and it would have been our first tiling/grouting job, which could have been an expensive learning curve.  Next up came hardwood, laminate, bamboo, even cork.  But each had its drawbacks for our purposes, be it dogs, kids, installation procedure or cost.

We considered a few combinations of lighter and darker greys and settled on this combination of easy-to-install high-end vinyl floors in similar light tones from our local big-box store:

Here's how they will look together

For the Living/Dining/Kitchen areas we chose Allure Locking Vinyl in Stratford Oak.  The installation is easy because the pieces interlock together and form a waterproof bond.  The wood-grain is gorgeous, especially in the light grey we picked, and the planks are extra wide, like barnboard.  Also, it doesn't feel remotely plasticky.

For the entry and vestibule, we chose Traffic Master Resilient Tile Flooring in Roman Travertine Grey.  What's cool about these high-end adhesive tiles is they can be installed with or without grout and have a "nano-ceramic bead ultimate performance finish", whatever that means ;).  Low maintenance and a lifetime warranty?  Sign me up.

So...  Ready to see how we did it?  

Phase 1: Remove the old linoleum kitchen floors.


Before.


Important Note:  Because our house dates back to the 1950's and we didn't know when the linoleum was put down, we had some concerns about the possibility of asbestos.  All I know about asbestos is that it can be a serious health hazard if you breathe it in.  You don't want to disturb it and have it go airborne.

We delicately broke off a little piece of flooring and had it tested at a nearby chemical lab.  It took about two days and cost roughly 100 dollars.  The results came back all clear, so we were good to go.

** If you plan on demolishing anything and you're not sure about what old/dangerous compounds could be lurking in it, we highly recommend do your research and search online for a lab that can test it and give you the answers you're looking for. **

As you can see from the heavy-duty breathing mask, we didn't want to take any chances and played it safe anyway :)

Wasn't expecting paper under the floor!

Removing the flooring in squares so we could carry them out more easily
And a big thank you to my brother-from-another-mother for a much-appreciated helping hand!

There was a lot of prying and manly grunting (and here you can spot the even-older-linoleum-under-the-linoleum!)

All done.  Now we can see right through down into the basement!

Phase 2:  Add sub-flooring to the entire surface of the main floor, bringing it level to the kitchen.



Subfloor is now all done in the kitchen.
Slowly making our way around the main level

Phase 3:  Drill extra screws into the floors to silence the 100's of loud creaks.


This step was equal parts fun and crazy-inducing!

Phase 4:  Make the kitchen/dining/living space appear larger by unifying them with one type of flooring.


Dining Area


Living Room and Dining Area

Living Room
Remember this hole?

Kitchen floor all smoothed out


Phase 5:  Make the front entry & closed vestibule feel larger by giving them their own flooring.


Before:
Tiny vestibule had its own flooring, making the space feel cramped
 The goal?  Combine the little entryway above with the larger front foyer below.


Testing out our flooring choice...  I think I like where this is going...

Work-in-progress...

Slicing off the bottom of the door frame

Just enough to slide the tile under it

After:

Combined vestibule and front entry

Toward the Kitchen
From the Living Room
After all was said and done, we still had a big job of re-installing the base molding all around the main floor (but we found a way to make it easier...  check it out!).  We also needed to install a finishing piece between the two different floors, which you can spot in the shot above.

Phew, what a job!  But what a transformation.  The brightness is off the charts, and it looks amazing.  Easy upkeep is just the cherry on top.

What do you think?

Till next time, 

Val

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