– Guest post by Jon –
Ever since moving in, I’ve wanted to pull the carpet out of the few rooms in the house that still had it. The room in the basement, which now holds all my film gear and my drum set, was the first to have its carpet removed. That went almost immediately because it was in terrible shape. But the other two rooms with carpet (the library and the upstairs office) were in really good shape, so those stayed. But Skinny, our big doggie, has a lot of allergies which cause him to constantly lick his paws, creating stains on the carpet and just a stale smell in general – since there’s only so much you can do to clean carpet.
However, what really inspired this project actually moving forward was Morgan finding the flooring at the Habitat for Humanity store. She was able to pick up 200 square feet of laminate flooring for about $70. So I picked up some extra supplies – quarter round, underlayment, and some new paint – and set to work over the weekend, so that I could have everything set up again for work on Monday.
I started by removing all the furniture and stuffing it into the storage room next door. Luckily everything including the couch fit through the doorway, so nothing had to be brought downstairs. Then I patched some holes in the drywall and in the base boards where I had removed some phone jacks earlier.
Laminate flooring needs time to acclimate to the room temperature and humidity. This helps prevent expansion or contraction which might occur if the flooring was brought from a humid environment to a dry one, or vice-versa. So I actually brought all the laminate up a couple days before starting the project, since it had been stored in the cool, dry basement and would be installed in a relatively hot and humid room.
Then for the fun part – tearing out all that old carpet and finding out what was underneath. Turns out, under the carpet was wood planks and, for some reason, a border around the edge of the room made of adhesive vinyl title. The wood planks were a perfect subfloor, so nothing had to be done, other than to remove about 1000 staples and nails which were used to attach the carpet and padding.
With the carpet out I decided to paint, since I didn’t have to worry about the floor, and all the furniture was removed. I wanted to use a more neutral color, and more importantly, it needed to have a slightly shinier sheen. The existing paint was very flat, which made it hard to clean, especially with the texture of the wall. So I picked a neutral grey color for the walls in a satin sheen, a semi-gloss white for the ceiling, and high-gloss white for the doors, moldings, and base boards.
First thing to paint was the ceiling, baseboards, doors, and moulding – all white. Then came the grey on the walls. Since it is a textured wall, and there is no moulding between the wall and ceiling, I used a combination of masking tape and clear caulk in order to get sharp, straight lines. When using only masking tape, the paint bleeds under, leaving a very bumpy looking line. With this caulk method, you put the tape down, then run a bead of clear caulk down the edge of the tape. You then press the caulk down with your finger so that it fills all the gaps in the tape, and is smooth. Then just paint over it and pull the tape before the caulk dries. Perfectly straight lines, even on a very bumpy surface!
On day 2 I started laying the floor down, beginning with the underlayment. This room is on the second floor, so a moisture barrier is not needed like it would be if the subfloor was a concrete slab. However, the thin, plastic underlayment that I used provides a bit of padding under the laminate planks, making it more comfortable to walk on, as well as giving the floor a bit more sound absorption.
At each of the doorways, I used a backsaw to cut the moulding. This allowed the flooring to slip underneath and make a perfect edge, rather than cutting the flooring to match the complicated contour of the moulding. These door jam pieces are the only ones to be glued to the surrounding laminate planks. So on one side they are glued, and on the other they are nailed in with a threshold. This ensures that the door jam piece, which is half the length of a regular plank and has the most traffic, will stay in place. All the other planks just snap in place.
The last step involved putting new quarter round down to conceal the gap between the wall and the floor. With floating floors, you want to leave a 1/8″ gap in order to account for expansion and contraction overtime. The quarter round covers this gap. For this step I rented a cordless finish nailer. It works just like a pneumatic nailer, but without the need for a long air hose and tank. It would have been impossible to nail all the quarter round down by hand without hitting the wood a few times. The nailer hits every nail perfectly and sets it just below the surface, so it’s ready for filler, all in one pull of the trigger. Also, for those who don’t mind slightly graphic images, check out this tutorial on how to drain your finger after hitting it with a hammer – yet another reason for having a nail gun. Password – “smash”.
After spending a few hours getting all the furniture and computer equipment back into the room, it’s all ready to go! It looks and smells brand new and should stay that way, since the new floor and walls can be cleaned with just a bit of water. And Skinny is completely used to the new floor. He is no longer walking on ice, and can continue his job of assisting me at work.
– Guest post by Jon –