Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Autumn Project

Autumn is approaching, and so too is my desire to get back to some home improvement chores.

We've decided, for a variety of reasons, to take up all the carpet on the second floor of our home. The carpet was never really very nice. It was contractor-quality carpet that was installed when we built our home. The carpet is now eleven years old, having lived through the toughest toddler years of our children. It is riddled with stains that won't come out, and sags and creases that don't look nice. Plus, every allergist in the nation will tell you to remove your wall-to-wall carpeting as the first step in improving your allergies. In short, it's time to get rid of it!

We did a fair bit of shopping around, and finally decided on a laminate flooring. The laminates have come a very long way in the past decade. Most of the higher quality laminates are almost indistinguishable from real wood. What's more, laminates are more durable than wood and don't require refinishing every ten years or so--a major chore we just completed on our first level.

The laminate flooring we chose was a brand called Witex™ Town and Country "Honey Oak". This one, manufactured in Germany, has an AC4 rating and comes with a 30 year residential warranty. We got a fairly good deal by purchasing it from The total cost of all materials is just about $4500 for over 1000 square feet. Not bad, really.

We chose this color as the closest match to our existing first floor hardwood flooring. Becky and I liked some of the more exotic choices, like "Old Hickory", but the smartest thing to do was to choose something almost identical to our existing oak flooring. We didn't want someone who walked up our stairs to see the contrast and remark, "Oh, Laminate!" Mostly, we just want to floor to disappear into the background.

As to the installation, that we will do ourselves.

The process should be fairly straightforward. First, we move all the furniture and rip out the carpet and padding, removing the tack strips along the walls.

Then, after smoothing and patching any problems in the subfloor, we lay down the acoustic padding (which reduces the "plasticky" clicking sound of walking on the laminate and provides a moisture barrier to the floor below).

After this, it's fairly simple to begin snapping the pieces into place, leaving a 10mm expansion gap around all the walls. Door jambs will have to be trimmed so that the laminate can slide under them, and I will have a variety of complex miter and jig-saw cuts to fit into the odd nooks and crannies.

Finally, we install quarter-round on all the baseboards (to cover the expansion gap), and add the threshold pieces interfacing with the tile, attic carpeting, and the wood stairs to the first level. Hopefully, it should take no more than a single weekend.

When we're done, the floor should look something like the following, though this is not a photo from my house:

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