I am so excited to to share on The Weekend Project our biggest home improvement project yet! We have done a lot of home improvements over the years in this house and our last, but nothing so big as laying wood every where there is carpet in a house this size. My husband is killing it with his man skills! If he can’t do it YouTube can teach him. We have two rooms almost done and one in the works, and we have already learned so much! All I can say is seeing the transformation is addicting, so I know we won’t be stopping with the floors. To get this started Bryan is going to be sharing how why we started this project and how we chose the materials.
Amy and I have been talking about adding hardwood flooring to our home ever since we moved in 3 years ago. Hardwood floors just add so much to a home, and they help increase the value of the home as well. However, our desire for the flooring was based more on necessity than pure interior design. We have 2 children and 2 dogs, and between people and pets walking on, spilling things on, and just living on them, they began to look worn in no time at all. In 3 years, we have had the carpets cleaned twice, and they were past due for another cleaning or maybe even a replacement.
We definitely had to consider the cost of putting new flooring of any kind was just overwhelming. Finally, thanks to some success I had with other smaller projects using Youtube and other instructional sites, I decided I was ready for the challenge of installing the flooring we’d been talking about for so long. I have virtually no experience putting in floors. In our last house, we had someone install laminate flooring for us, and I helped click the pieces into place, but that was about it. I haven’t done any cutting or anything other than just tapping pieces into place with tongue and groove laminate. However, we live in an age of technology where tutorials and online advice make it so easy for people to do household projects that they’d never even dreamed of doing on their own.
This should serve as a fun way to show off what can be done with very little experience and tutorials, but I’m hoping it will also serve as a useful tool for others who might be wanting to do wood floors but are overwhelmed by the cost of materials plus labor. You can save so much money just by doing it yourself!
I want to say up front that this project is not something that I’m going to be working on day and night. There are four bedrooms, a playroom, a hallway, stairs and great room that I’m going to be doing and I have a full-time job, 2 kids, manage a web site, and put out a weekly Disney fan podcast. I’m setting a goal of 1 room a week. If I get more than that done, then great! For me, that’s another perk of doing the work ourselves. We can take our time doing it without tearing the entire house up and living in chaos for a week while the work gets done.
For the majority of the materials we went to a store that specializes in wood flooring in a warehouse environment. Going to a store like this over a traditional home improvement retailer saves a lot of money due to the reduced overhead. We went to the same store for the laminate from them for our previous home as well as the hard wood for the staircase in that house. They have proven to have a wider selection and much lower prices than stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s.
For our home, we ended up going with a bamboo click and lock engineered wood floors. Bamboo is extremely durable, and we got a design that had a distressed look to it so we wouldn’t have to worry about the dogs scratching the floor or the kids dropping something on it and ruining it.
Quick Tip: Just ask if the price is the best price. The salesman gave us $.20 off a sq. ft. just for asking. Plus discounts on the moisture barrier and underlayment, and he even threw in a starter kit with knee pads, rubber mallet, tapping block, spacers, and a pull bar.
We are doing our floors as a floating floor, which means it will not be nailed or glued down. The flooring is “click and lock”, which means they just click into place and lay on the floor. In addition to the flooring, you’ll need some other items.
- Moisture barrier – This is basically a large piece of plastic that needs to be laid on the subfloor (the base or foundation that you’re going to be laying your floors on) if you’re putting them on the first floor of your home. This keeps condensation and moisture that comes from the concrete of the foundation of your home and prevents it from wetting your wood flooring. You do not need to lay down the moisture barrier on the 2nd story and higher levels of your home where you’re just laying the floors down on wood subfloors.
- Underlayment – This is basically a foam pad that sits underneath your floors and helps quiet the noise made from walking on them. Generally, the higher the quality of underlayment, the quieter your floors will be. In our last home, the sound of our dogs’ nails clacking on the floor used to drive us nut, so we went with a little higher quality underlayment this time, hoping it would help lessen the noise.
- “T” molding – This is a strip of wood that matches your flooring that goes in between the places where your flooring meets another type of flooring in the house, for example tile or carpet.
- Quarter round – You need to leave about ¼” all the way around the perimeter of the room for your floor to expand and contract, which the flooring naturally does with the weather. The quarter round is a strip of wood that covers the gap. Otherwise, you can pull up your baseboards and slide the wood under the baseboards, but it’s more work, and you’ll more than likely have to repaint wall where you removed the baseboards.
- Saw – For this project, I’m going to begin by using a table saw that my father-in-law gave us. From my research, it sounds like a table saw will work just fine, but you can also use a chop saw, which is more ideal if you’re going to be laying your floor diagonally and working with angles. We will also be using the chop saw, a hand saw, and a circular saw as part of this project.
- Miscellaneous – I mentioned the starter kit. One of the things it contains is knee pads. You’re going to be spending a lot of time on your knees and these are practically a necessity. There is also the rubber mallet, tapping block, and pull bar. For click and lock floors, you’ll need these to tap the flooring into place without ruining them. The kit also comes with spacers. These are items you put between your flooring and the wall to keep that ¼” gap between them while you’re hammering the pieces into place. It’s not necessary to go out and buy spacers. You can use spare pieces of flooring as spacers, but if it comes in a kit, you might as well use them.
- Chalk line – This is a helpful tool to help you start laying the flooring down in a straight line. Many times, the walls are not an even straight line across the floor. So, you can’t rely on that as a guide to get you started. This will help you to measure out a straight line, mark it with the chalk line, and lay your wood level with that line.
- Undercut and jamb saw – If you are laying your flooring around door jambs, you will need this to undercut the jambs to make room for the flooring to expand and contract with the weather.
I’m sure there will be other items that will need to be purchased along the way, but for now, this should be a great start.
I’m really looking forward to this project! I know it won’t be all rainbows and sunshine the whole way through, but at the end of it, hopefully we’ll be left with beautiful floors that increase the value of our home….and we will have saved a ton of money on labor. Follow me through this project as I update the blog every step of the way with tips, pictures, and even lessons of “what not to do” as I’m sure I will be learning those, too, along the way.
Here’s a quick look at the finished living room and master bedroom floors:
Bryan is my amazing husband of ten years and pretty much the best dad ever! He also is a 9-5er with a passion for finance and a massive Disney enthusiast! Bryan co-hosts an awesome podcast called All About the Mouse Disney Podcast with a really fun blog. and fan site. Head over to All About the Mouse Central for info on Disney Parks, Movies, and More!
I can’t wait for you to see the finished floors! I am so proud of Bryan for taking on this massive project. He has been working on it in the evenings and on the weekends. If you are looking to just do the weekends then you can expect to get one room done over a couple of days. The floors are turning out great! I am so excited!! Do you have experience laying wood floors! I’d love to hear about your experience.