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
- 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.