Monday, September 21, 2015

54 Do it Yourself: Floating Laminate Floor Installation


We have finally 100% completed our flooring install.  It was about 90% done for a few months now, only waiting for some specific finishing cuts and transition pieces... Funny how we get a project to a point of being done enough to use it and work around it and then put off those last few hours of finishing work.  Don't follow our lead on that. #wink



We have been receiving quite a few emails with questions regarding our upper level flooring selection.  Why didn't we install it under the cabinets?  Why did we select laminate?  Does it show dog hair and dirt?  Is it loud?  How has it been holding up?  How did we install it?

And now that we are finally finished with the installation process, we are finally going to answer all of those questions and more today.  

Our first step was to source and purchase the flooring.  Here are some of the items we considered while searching for our floors:
  • Our home's existing aesthetic/finishes - We installed TrafficMaster Allure Vintage Oak Cinnamon Resilient Vinyl Plank Flooring in our bathrooms (guest and main) and throughout our lower level a few years ago, as well as beautiful American Walnut stained wood stairs.  It was important to find something that would compliment our existing flooring finishes. 
  • Durability - Dogs and kids and a Jen, oh my!  Finding something that could stand up to heavy wear and traffic was a must.
  • Style - We set out to find an oak hardwood or something that achieved the same look.
  • Cost - Price is always a factor with any project we do, as well as ensuring we stay on budget and consider all of the high/low options.
  • Installation - We really wanted to try and find a flooring we felt comfortable tackling on our own.  The installation of flooring can often times cost more than the actual floors themselves. 
  • Ratings - It is always important to look for photos and testimonials of the items we are investing in.

We sourced flooring samples from Home Depot, Lowes, Lumber Liquidators, Build Direct and Best Laminate. Some samples were ordered online while others were picked up right within local stores.  We continuously compared samples in different areas of our main living spaces at different times of the day until we whittled our pile down to all of our favorites.



We fell in love with a pre-finished oak hardwood, however, it was the first one to fail our key test.  And it failed badly.  We took a key and rubbed it across the surface of each sample to see how easily it would be scratched and marred.  The true hardwood took on the most damage while the floor we ultimately selected fared quite well.  After considering all of the items above, we ultimately selected Home Decorators Collection Cotton Valley Oak Floating Laminate.  It was nice and thick, wasn't too orange/red, seemed quite durable, matched well with our existing flooring, looked similar to the inspiration oak hardwood and we could install it ourselves.  To top things off, the price was great and came in far under our estimated flooring budget.  Winner, winner!


So what is a laminate floating floor?  Here is the technical definition I found on Google for you -

"A floating floor is a floor that does not need to be nailed or glued to the sub-floor. The term floating floor refers to the installation method, but is often used synonymously with laminate flooring but is applied now to other coverings such as floating tile systems and vinyl flooring in a domestic context."


To prepare for our order, we measured our entire upper level square footage, and did not subtract out anything the floor would be installed around.  We knew there would be some waste and we didn't want to end up without enough, so we over-purchased.  We ordered a total of 42 boxes of flooring, 6 rolls of underlayment foam and two transition pieces (to install where our laminate flooring meets carpeting).

The first step was to install the underlayment foam.  Some floating floors will have this pre-attached, however, ours did not.  The underlayment acts as a barrier between the floating floors and the sub-floor.  The thicker the foam underlayment, the quieter and cushier your floor will become (the underlayment is available in a variety of thicknesses and qualities at various price points).


Our underlayment foam had an adhesive edge, however, we also opted to staple it down to prevent any shifting during installation.

As you can see above, we decided to install our flooring to run parallel to the longest main wall.  Our previous floors were installed in the same manner and we preferred the look and felt it made the room appear longer and wider.  The first row was installed with the flooring tongue facing the wall, about 3/8" away from wall edge to allow for expansion.  We also started the row with a piece cut in half to ultimately create a staggered effect.

The best part?  The only tools we needed for the majority of the installation were:
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Miter Saw

I know right?  And to show how truly easy it was to click the floor together, I made you the most anticlimactic video in all of the DIY land.



But as you know, anticlimactic is a VERY good thing in the world of DIY!  We don't want challenges and frustrations, we want easy-to-install floors!

Just measure and cut...


And then place and lock by sliding each new piece of flooring into the over-lapping end joints and pushing down to engage (the image above was a specific angle cut for the hallway, majority of the cuts in the main living areas were 90 degree angles).



One piece after another, pulling from random boxes and staggering along the way for a good grain variation.


When it came to the kitchen, we actually had to install our cabinets and island first, and our flooring second.  It is important to remain cautious of the amount of weight being added to the tops of the floors because they will naturally expand and contract with the weather/temperature changes.  This is also why it is important not to place the flooring tight up to any of the wall or cabinet edges.  The inability to naturally expand and contract may cause the floor to buckle, and that is not a risk we wanted to take knowing how heavy our cabinets paired with the quartz counters would become.


Our cabinets were installed on legs (that were provided with the cabinets), while our custom center island came with a built-up base.  To ensure that our dishwasher and fridge panels were installed at the appropriate heights, we did place temporary pieces of flooring down for measuring purposes and to keep things level until the remainder of the floors were run through the kitchen.


As you can see below, the floors were installed up to the legs under the outer cabinets and with a very small gap around the island base.


Once our oven/downdraft situation is finalized and installed correctly, we will add the final pieces of toe-kick to our island, as well as matching quarter round.  The IKEA white toe-kick is designed to clip right to the legs below their cabinets, yet on top of the floors (we had to rip the toe-kick trim to the correct height).


Although we did not install the cabinets on top of the flooring, our appliances sit on top of the floors for a seamless look (and to make appliance swap-outs and repairs easy down the road).


The image above is how we had been living with our hallway for the past few months.  Up until the hallway, the floor only required straight, 90 degree cuts.  However, our hallway was a combination of doors and angles and took almost as long as the living/kitchen area combined.


Bryan tried installing the flooring both with a door jamb installed and with it completely removed.  Although he thought he would save a little time but not removing the jamb, he ultimately decided it was much easier to just take them out all together until the floors were done.  Above is our guest bedroom door with the jamb still attached.  The floor needed to run under the jamb, so the jamb had to be shortened with our oscillating tool to slide over the top of the floors (ultimately making it easier to just remove future doors).




When it came to the smaller angle cuts, he had to get a little more creative.  For those with a straight edge, he used his sliding t-bevel to determine the exact angle and measurements.


While smaller pieces and those with multiple points were planned and cut on scrap paper first.



A combination of his jig saw, miter saw and table saw helped him with the more intricate cuts.



Door jamb completely removed and much easier to work around!



Once the floors were completely installed, it was time to install the new transition pieces.  Although we had transitions with our previous laminate, they were not the same/compatible with the new flooring.  We began by removing the old metal strips and screwing in the new ones (which are included in the packaging with the transition pieces).

Step One - Remove previous transition hardware



Step Two - Measure door opening



Step Three - Cut metal transition piece to size with a snips



Step Four - Screw new transition strip in place


Step Five - Measure and cut door stop moulding notch from transition piece with jig saw


Step Six - Snap transition piece into installed hardware


And celebrate, because you just finished installing your floors!



Here is a shot of the new laminate floor paired with our previously existing bathroom vinyl plank flooring.


The floor and door trim can then be installed on top of the floating floor (affixed to the walls, not to the flooring).  We went with this base trim and casing from Home Depot.


We used a jig saw to cut out our heat registers, which we then glammed up with pretty covers.


Once our project was complete, we had a total of five extra boxes and one extra underlayment roll, which we were able to return to the store.  Total cost of the flooring, transition pieces and underlayment came in at around $1300.00.

Now, let's take a moment to chat about how happy we are with our flooring choice.

I wouldn't trade them for any other floors as of this very moment.

These floors have held up really well to our daily use, even as we continue construction on top of them.  Not a single scratch has been found yet, they look as beautiful as the day we installed them (even if that was just last week for some of the pieces, ha).

They hide dirt which is probably a good and bad thing, but I appreciate that I am not worried about sweeping/mopping around the clock.  We do have dogs and if they come in with wet paws, the prints do not completely vanish once dry.  And the white dog hair is easily spotted.

We are happy with the overall sound barrier the underlayment seems to provide, our large dogs will most likely sound like horses on any flooring.  However, our open concept does tend to bounce sound a little more, while the floors do a good job absorbing much of it.  I keep telling Bryan more rugs are also the answer.

To maintain the floors, I was using a homemade mixture and my spin mop, but I wasn't 100% happy with the results.  After some reading, I learned that many home solutions can slowly dull the protective floor finish, as can using too much water.  So I made the switch to Bona from Home Depot and it cleans so much better than anything I had made myself prior.


Every day or two I use a microfiber dust mop just to pick up hair and dust.


And every week or two (or as needed), I use a spray mop paired with a microfiber head and the Bona.  The floors dry polished and completely streak free.


We are "floored" at how much we love these new floors, and how they have really created an expansive and cohesive flow throughout our upper level, and even throughout our entire home.


I hope I answered all of your questions, but if not, feel free to leave any new ones in the comments below and we will do our best to keep the post updated with anything we may have missed.

This post was in no way sponsored.  We personally purchased all of the items we talked about today and are happy to share our true experience.

54 comments:

  1. Since y'all did such an excellent job, I'm gonna let you come on down south to our home and help us out! We have gone back and forth on what type of flooring to use throughout our house. Almost anything is better than the current, dated situation we have going on! Will definitely check out your selection and see how it looks in our space. Everything you do looks like a dream! Love how it is all coming together.

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  2. My large dog scratched my laminate floors so I am interested in learning more about your experience with vinyl plank. How has it held up and why did you not choose to use it again?

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    Replies
    1. I am sorry to hear about your dogs and the scratches. We are still extremely happy with the vinyl plank that we have installed in areas throughout our home, and although it looks beautiful, I can still tell it is vinyl upon touch. We love that it is perfect for our lower level and bathrooms that could someday become wet, but I wanted something that felt/looked more like real wood in our main level. Also, as durable as the vinyl is, if heavy furniture is moved around on it without any protective pads, it can scuff and scratch and we also had one small spot that ended up splitting which was a little frustrating. Overall the vinyl still receives a huge thumbs up from us, and I love that they now have a lot of new color options. It really came down to that "feeling" it provided.

      Delete
    2. Hi Jen, your floor is beautiful! I was just wondering if you installed your vinyl floor directly to the concrete floor or did you use a subfloor? Do you find it cold in the winter?

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  3. Thanks for all the details on your flooring, its gorgeous! When you took off your existing metal transition piece did you have to do anything to the actual carpet? Like restretch it?

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    Replies
    1. Great question! We did not have to do anything to the existing carpet. :)

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    2. Good to know, thanks ! One more question, since you are not laying the flooring under the dishwasher what happens if you have a dishwasher leak or pump problem and it goes under the laminate between the 2 floors? Does the moisture barrier protect your floor from being ruined? Thanks again!

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    3. We did lay flooring all of the way under the dishwasher, fridge and range, just not under the actual cabinets. The underlayment should protect the sub-flooring and prevent water seeping, we also saved a box or two of flooring in case we need to replace a section of it down the road (but let's all hope that won't happen).

      Delete
    4. Oh okay, thanks for clarifying that. I'm sure it would never happen but I know my hubby will ask me these questions when I present him my plan for a new floor, ha-ha! Your kitchen looks awesome, I love everything about it :-))

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  4. We're going to be doing my office floor with the same thing in a few weeks. I sent your article to my husband for reference. Ü Perfect timing!

    Thanks so much!
    Nancy

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  5. that looks like A LOT of work but it also looks well worth it!
    XO Ellen from Ask Away
    www.askawayblog.com

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  6. I too have laminate and LOVE it. Good job of showing how to install. Thanks for the cleaning tips, I will try those products.

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  7. Thanks for the advice for cleaning!! We just put in laminate floor (we put Pergo since we have a dog and it was recommended because it is more resistant) and I was looking for the best way to clean it.
    Concerning the way you run the laminate, a lot of professional advice to install it perpendicular to windows. If you get scratches or wear with the time, you will see it less, and it will bring the light differently. I was surprised there were a way since I was going to go the opposite one (we have a hallway too so parallel would have been better there), but many people told us to go that way and that we would not regret it.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ju!

      That is a great point! We had read that as well, however, with the layout of our living/kitchen/dining and hallway we decided it wouldn't work out as well for us to lay it in that direction. Fingers crossed we won't regret it down the road, many of the areas in front of the windows will also be covered in rugs so I think that will help protect the floors as well.

      xo!

      Delete
  8. Great tips! May I ask the total square footage of your project? Your all in price of $1300 makes this seem like a much more realistic possibility for our home.

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    Replies
    1. Total area was around 500 square feet for living, kitchen, dining and hallway. :)

      Delete
  9. Thanks so much for this post. We are in the process of looking at new flooring (replacing carpet) and have 2 dogs and a grand dog that visits often ;) - my husband isn't too excited about hearing the dogs walk on the flooring, and I'm apprehensive about seeing the dog hair, BUT I love that I will actually be removing ALL of the dog hair, unlike what I can only imagine what is in our carpet!

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  10. Hi Jen, I spy new hallway light fixtures. Why the change from the DIY candle holder ones? Will they show up somewhere else? Love both options!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Nikki!

      I loved the uniqueness of the candle holder fixtures, but they really competed with all of our new fixtures so we swapped them. We may try and find a way to relocate them or hang them out near our garden decoratively. :)

      xo!

      Delete
  11. Thank you for the tutorial. Your floors look great! Any chance you will be posting a pic of the whole area (kitchen and living room) looking in from the front door? I have been dying to see how beautiful it all looks opened up!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jennifer!

      Oh yes, I will definitely be doing a full room view in a future post to show how the spaces opened up and are really ideal for our daily lifestyle. There are just a few things I want to tweak and work on to bring cohesiveness between the two areas before doing a whole room shot/reveal.

      Thank you!
      Jen

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  12. Looks so awesome!!
    LettieLane.blogspot.com

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  13. Thank you for the awesome tutorial!! Love the gorgeous floors and thanks for the cleaning tips also!!

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  14. Can you see foot prints? My hubby and little grandkids like to go barefoot and I am always seeing their footprints. Bona cleaner will take them away but I am always cleaning. Mine is Pergo brand.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mimi! I don't notice foot prints from our family at all, really the only prints I spot are near our patio door where our puppies come in and out with wet paws.

      xoxo!

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  15. What did you have on your floor before? Did you have to rip up carpet?

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    Replies
    1. Hello,

      We had a less expensive floating laminate in our living area and linoleum in our kitchen. We removed both ourselves prior to putting in the new flooring. To prep for install, we removed all of the staples and vacuumed the subfloor. You can still reference our previous floors on the home tour page: http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/2010/01/iheart-my-home-home-tour.html

      Delete
  16. I was thinking about the grip strip version of this flooring. Any opinion on that one vs the locking planks you used?

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  17. Congrats! It must feel so good to have this done, plus they look beautiful.

    I love the gold ceiling fixtures. Did you spray paint something? I'd love a source because I'm on the hunt for something similar.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Holly! The lights are flush mount lights from Home Depot: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Hampton-Bay-Oxnard-2-Light-Ceiling-Brushed-Nickel-Flush-Mount-HLS8012A/203194882

      I sprayed them with gold Krylon spray paint and once that was cured, I painted them with Liquid Leaf: http://www.michaels.com/liquid-leaf-leafing-paint-classic-gold/10014830.html#q=liquid+leaf&start=2

      Delete
  18. They look beautiful! How thick was your foam underlayment?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Stacey,

      Here is the link to the exact underlayment we used as well as all of the specs: http://www.homedepot.com/p/TrafficMASTER-Standard-100-sq-ft-Rolls-25-ft-x-4-ft-x-080-in-Polyethylene-Foam-2-in-1-Underlayment-100779555/203956730

      Delete
  19. Jen, That's great and fantastic job but the blog is turned into joinery and home project things. I missed these little creative ideas that I can apply to my space and your organizing talent that sparkles and waws me.

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  20. Jen, I love your kitchen! My family recently lost our home to a house fire... it is a total gut job. I am seriously considering an IKEA kitchen, the grey one in the catalog is going in my house...but I was wondering do you like their dishwasher? We are a busy family of 5 (I have 3 boys too) and they EAT ALOT so it would get a lot of use.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jennifer,

      So far we have been quite happy with the dishwasher. We were told it is one of the most energy efficient options currently on the market (by our IKEA rep), and after we added the counter and panel, we appreciated how quiet it runs. It works great, we maybe rinse some of the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, but typically we just toss them in and they come out beautifully clean. The racks would be my only slight complaint, we are still figuring out the best way to load it to maximize the space and run it less.

      I am SO incredibly sorry to hear about your recent fire and loss. My heart goes out to you and your family. Truly, I can't imagine what you have experienced and wish you all of the best as you re-build your home.

      Jen

      Delete
  21. They look fantastic, so pretty in the space! Do happen to remember where the towel hanging on the oven in the kitchen came from? That is the second time today I've seen it on a blog and both times it really caught my eye which tells me I need to get one if I can find it!

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    Replies
    1. Hi April! The towel is from Pottery Barn: http://lm.inlinkz.com/go.php?i=828034&c=148287

      It is a stunner!

      Jen

      Delete
  22. We actually just bought this EXACT floor for our new addition. I'm thrilled that you did as well and love it! Give me a major boost of confidence! I heart your style! And blog!
    So it looks like you chose the transition pieces in hickory as opposed to the cotton valley? Why is that? I noticed your link takes me to the hickory. I noticed these are in stock and cheaper. Wanted to know if they matched good. Hoping to start installing the floors this week!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Juli!

      To be honest, we were finally to the point of needing the transition pieces so we decided to take our flooring to the store to see if they had something close enough that would match vs. ordering something online and waiting. We found the hickory to be almost perfect so that is what we opted to go with in the moment to complete our project. I am sure you can't go wrong with the actual color matched transition, but if you were looking to save a few bucks and want to avoid ordering online, we found the hickory to be a great solution.

      xoxo!

      Delete
  23. Love how you took the time match the bathroom and living room flooring. It makes it so cohesive! The new transitions also make the work look very professional. Hubby and I have used the floating vinyl plank (like your bathrooms) in my Mom's previous kitchen and in my craft room. Mom loved it - easy to clean, hard as a rock and fooled everyone into thinking it was real wood. Plus it's really inexpensive! I used one that looks like driftwood in my craft room and am just as satisfied. Great work - love how everything looks! You guys have done a beautiful job!!!!

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  24. So the timing of your post couldn't be more perfect! We just ordered Dog's own supply of flooring from Home Depot and will be tackling demo and installation in fairly short order. :)

    Quick question about not installing the floating floor under the kitchen cabinets - is that a recommended thing or a choice you guys made based on other info? We, too, will be eventually installing an IKEA kitchen (save! save! save!) but that's a while off and so we were planning the install the new floors up to the existing cabinets and then extended the flooring when it (finally) comes time to replace them and set the new cabinets on top of them.

    Thanks for another awesome Giant Project post! :D

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    Replies
    1. Hi Bonnie,

      That is a great question! We had done a lot of reading online regarding floating laminate installation and many of the articles we found mentioned that they should not be installed under cabinets due to weight concerns. So it was a decision based on research and recommendations. :)

      I wish you the best of luck with your updates! And with your new IKEA kitchen! So exciting!!

      Jen

      Delete
  25. Hey Jen! We're about to start our own kitchen reno (so I'm crazy pleased to read your experiences as I research). We are planning on doing the oven and cook top in our island as well. Where did you guys get yours? I've yet to find an option I love. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Holly,

      Unfortunately, the combination of cooktop/slide-in range/downdraft that we initially had selected, didn't end up working out with our island configuration. We are in the process of reworking the setup, and ultimately ended up doing a slide-in range instead. I will be sure to share more about the entire story when we finally have it all finished and working correctly.

      IKEA has cooktop/range options and I am guessing specialty appliance stores will be able to assist you in locating compatible options as well.

      Best of luck with your kitchen!! <3
      Jen

      Delete
  26. Quick question about flooring samples from the Home Depot...how in the round world did you get some? I've gone to all the stores in our area and have called the 800 number. The flooring you chose, as well as some other shades I was interested in, does not come in sample form.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really? Come to Wisconsin! Our Home Depot offers samples, and it did in the floor we purchased also (even though it was only available online). Some stores charge a dollar or two... Lowes also had flooring samples, as did Lumber Liquidators and a few online stores I found. I hope you are able to track some down, it is such an important part of the process!

      Delete
  27. Hi Jen! Thank you for putting up this wonderful guide on laminating floor. Had I known about these tips 5 years back, it would have saved me few bucks. Eventually, i ended up hiring a flooring crew.

    All looked great, till my dog scratched the beauty out of it. I guess, the only problem with these flooring is there vulnerability to scratches. Never the less, the design too feels so great in your post.

    And, also your kitchen looks stunning :)

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  28. That floor looks ravishing Jen! To match both living room and kitchen evenly must have taken some time. And they both look so beautiful. Just keep an eye on the Pets. They can create scratches that can leave an ugly patch.

    One quick question, if you have to choose an alternative that stands the pet movements, what would it be?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Felicia,

      Thank you for the kind words. We spoke to a few flooring experts and let them know we had three boys and two dogs and asked for recommendations regarding what types of floors would stand up to that sort of traffic. We have yet to see a single scratch in our new floors, they are holding up quite well to pets and was the reason we selected them initially. I wanted real wood floors, but was told I would be frequently frustrated with the need to fix and sand. I can't personally speak to alternative options as I haven't tested them beyond doing the key test, but I can say that I am really happy with the floors we installed and how they are holding up to our daily use.

      Delete
  29. I love your floors! Can you tell me what kind of baseboard you used?

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    Replies
    1. Thank you!

      The baseboards are from Home Depot: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Woodgrain-Millwork-WP-5163-9-16-in-x-5-1-4-in-Prime-Finger-Jointed-Base-Moulding-10000627/206004321

      And the casing is as well: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Alexandria-Moulding-WP07715-11-16-in-x-3-1-2-in-Primed-Pine-Finger-Jointed-Casing-7715A-90192C/206012263

      xoxo!

      Delete
  30. I'm new to researching and an getting overwhelmed... The space I need to cover is only 50sq ft... My biggest question is, can I use samples to cover the entire space?? I found some lovely pergo samples for 0.25... With only one dimension given as 7.61 inches.. Even if it's width is around 2 inches, I would imagine this to be a great deal! Any advice is greatly appreciated. Side note: working with a low income income budget. The sample piece has an attached under lay mat and is the snapping together style.is

    ReplyDelete

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