Friday, May 4, 2012

Installing a Laminate Floor - Part I: Demolition & Underlay

One of the first times that we came to the house after it was ours, we discovered that the floor in the guest room really needed some help (the previous owners had cleverly put a rug in that room so we wouldn't notice). It had stick-down vinyl tiles that must have been 30 years old, and were peeling up around the edges.


Before (notice the well-placed rug)

Now, for a demolition-lover like me, this was great news--it meant that tearing them up would be a breeze! Needless to say, I started ripping up tiles right away, because it was so much fun! I removed the baseboards (post on how to do this and how much I love my mini crow bar and my chisel coming soon), painted, and we ordered a new floor.

Demolition!

We decided to go with a floating laminate floor for a couple of reasons.

1) We didn't want to removed the black paper that was stuck to the sub-floor if we could avoid it, and the sub-floor doesn't have to be perfectly flat to put a laminate floor on top.

2) We can't afford real hardwood right now.

3) The rest of our second floor has real, old-fashioned hardwood floors, and we knew that it would be impossible to match the colour exactly (and also that if we tried the laminate would look so fake next to the real stuff). We also didn't like the idea of having two different colours of wood right next to each other. Using laminate gave us the largest number of colours and styles to choose from.

This is the floor that we chose is called Picolo Light Grey, and it looks like this:
Laying the Underlay

Once the old floor was torn up, the baseboards removed, and all the bits of the old floor removed from under the baseboards, I swept the floor and then vacuumed. I tore up any pieces of black paper that seemed loose.

We got a roll of the cheap underlay (since the room is on the second floor, we weren't worried about moisture, so we didn't see a need for the fancy stuff), and I laid it out on the floor with "This side up" facing up, and set out to cut it to fit the room.

Lay the underlay not only so that the writing is the same side up on each piece (i.e. facing the ceiling), but also so it's oriented the same way (i.e.top of all the letters towards the window). If you have the same kind of underlay that I did, the left edge of each piece will have a strip of thin plastic extending past the edge of the actual underlay by about 10cm (4 in). The right side of each piece will have a strip of tape, covered by a backing, about 5cm (2 in) from the edge. The idea is that you're supposed to butt the pieces of underlay up against one another, with the cellophane on top of the tape, remove the backing of the tape once it's all lined up, and stick the cellophane to the tape. That way your underlay won't slide around while you're laying the floor. It took me a while to figure out what the cellophane and tape strip were for, so hopefully now you won't have to!

See how the word "Roberts" is one way up in the first row, 
and the other way up in the next row. This is how not to do it.


Another trick that I discovered is that once you have the underlay lined up on three sides, you can use a utility knife or a pair of scissors to poke holes a foot or so apart along the underlay where the floor meets the wall. Then you can lift it up and cut to "connect the dots" to get an accurate line, even if your room isn't square.

With those two tips in mind, putting down the underlay is pretty easy.

Click here for Part II: Installing the Floor



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