My bargain flooring was delivered on 1/1/16. What an exciting way to begin the New Year! I’d spent some time in the previous week watching YouTube videos on how to lay laminate wood flooring. After watching the videos (in time-lapse) I was calculating that my main floor could be completed in about half a day.
Understanding where to lay the first plank is really important. My understanding was that starting at the longest part of your home and going row by row from there was how to do it. That method is actually correct, but for some reason I didn’t do that. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I started with the first strip being the one that went below my kitchen sink. I then went around the cabinet and to the wall. Here is a visual…
You can see that the #8 plank was a little bugger to fit in between #1 and #3. I had a few of these areas before I learned my lesson. The lesson is – you need to complete a full row before beginning a new row. And, while we’re on the subject of lessons learned.
Templates: If you have a board that has to fit around multiple things, such as door frames and heat vents, you can use the clear underlayment as a template. I would lay a piece of the underlayment down over the area that was going to require multiple cuts and draw on it. I could then cut that shape out and use it as a template for my board. It was never a perfect template and I did need to shave the board down a bit here and there after the initial cut that was made from the template, but it was a lot less frustrating than ruining 4 boards on the same damn spot.
Keep Your Scraps: When you cut a board, you remove the tongue and groove from that edge and it’s no longer able to be a middle piece, but it is able to be used as an end piece. That cut edge without the tongue and groove (because you cut that end off) will be the part that is along the wall, under your floor board.
Use A Block of Wood and Be Gentle: When you’re fitting two pieces of flooring together, you first attach the horizontal part of the board with your hands and then tap the end of the plank into the other board. You can’t use a hammer directly on the plank or you’ll damage the tongue and groove part of the board. Use a piece of 2×4 between the plank and the hammer. I was banging (versus tapping) the planks together on a few of mine and had the wood come up a little bit on the corners before I noticed what I’d done. Be gentle.
Annnnnnd, this is all the further I got on day one. This was 12 hours of work. It took a lot longer than I had expected but I think half of the time was due to me learning all of the above techniques and lessons the hard way. This was also the part of the house with the most cuts and things to go around. The last hour of day one was also just a lot of me standing back and staring at the floor in disbelief. To me this was the first big thing to be “finished” and I was finally able to see actual non-demolition progress.
You see in my drawing above how I started the flooring. I hadn’t even thought about what would happen when I got to the other side of the kitchen island. I literally lucked out. The boards that needed to meet up and have the same measurement at the head of the island (just to the left of the white cord) did! I’m sure there would have been a workaround that included glue, but just like magic they fit perfectly.
Speaking of that white cord! Ugh. The electrician had yet to cut the cord that ran from my roof to my furnace room. The cord was originally running through the floor out where the last plank is but I used a jigsaw and cut a little pathway to move it to the edge of the island so that I could install the flooring. I’ll cover the hole up with the floor board.
Day two was also supposed to include my bedroom. Unfortunately it was 2 am and I was just finishing the living room. I also felt like I was 90-years-old and just had to be done…
…The next morning, I felt like I was 150-years-old.
There were still areas that needed final touches. It seemed as if every task was ending with me moving on to the next task without completing those final touches. I put a stop to that now. I’m no longer allowing myself to hop from one thing to the next. A month of tasks that weren’t all of the way finished gets really overwhelming to look at and think about.
The areas that you will likely save for last when installing flooring include:
- trim work for the areas around posts and railings
- doorways into bedrooms and/or bathrooms
- flooring heat vents
- staircases (or at least the staircase transition step)
Stay tuned for my staircase post. It’s been my most challenging project yet but I’m loving the outcome!
P.S. The bedroom flooring did get done, it was just a few weekends later.