Laying laminate floor throughout house -- multiple starting points?


Hi...
We're about to lay laminate floating flooring throughout our house, but given we'll be doing almost every room (except bathrooms), there's no way we'll be able to have a single starting point. Is it recommended to start a new row in each room then use a transition piece at the door where the floors meet (for example hallway and bedroom or kitchen and living room) or is there anyway to have the floors move seamlessly throughout the house? I'm not sure what the standard process is for this.
Thanks --
Alex
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Alex wrote:

The standard process OUGHT to be that which minimizes the work. I'd use a transition only if I had to do so or if it made the installation easier.
There are four tools you'll need that you may not have considered: 1. A cheap table saw - there will be ripping. 2. A rubber mallet. 3. Ratchet clamp http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber416
The last is useful because no matter how much you beat on some planks, they just refuse to snap together!
I presume you'll be removing the baseboards (excellent opportunity to recondition them). (Hint: Don't drive the nails out from the backside: cut them off instead.) If so, you'll also need: 4. Tool for undercutting door jambs.
A pneumatic brad-nailer is a god-send when re-installing the baseboards.
Good luck on your project: Laminate flooring is kinda fun and you'll be tickled with the results. Downstream, laminate flooring is MUCH easier to keep clean than carpeting and a lot more durable.
P.S. The plastic-impregnated laminates are okay for the kitchen and batch - they're virtually waterproof.
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Thanks for the reply and tips. I might just have to pick-up the ratchet clamp from the local Harbor Freight, so great idea!
Ideally I'd love to make the floors seamless, but with the way our house is laid-out, I just don't see how we can do so since we'll have to start a new row of planks in a couple of places... and given they'll be coming from different directions, I just don't know how we can make them seamlessly blend together without transition pieces.
Also, just curious to anyone why's laid a floating laminate floor, we plan on having three of us working on it with one cutting and two laying, and at about 750 square feet I'm guessing we can get done in either one day or maybe one day plus a few hours into a second one. It's basically a living room, kitchen/dining room, hallway, small entry hallway, and one bedroom. We might hold-off on the trim until the next day, but that I wouldn't think should take too long.
Thanks for the advice..
Alex
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My experience in reno, is at minimum, double your estimate time. Installing floor is all stoop and kneeling work, hard to do for a many hours in a row if you are not used to it. You will be slow moving and stiff as a board the next morning. Problems always show up when you are not expecting them, so take them in stride. Don't rush, do it right the first time.
wrote:

Thanks for the reply and tips. I might just have to pick-up the ratchet clamp from the local Harbor Freight, so great idea!
Ideally I'd love to make the floors seamless, but with the way our house is laid-out, I just don't see how we can do so since we'll have to start a new row of planks in a couple of places... and given they'll be coming from different directions, I just don't know how we can make them seamlessly blend together without transition pieces.
Also, just curious to anyone why's laid a floating laminate floor, we plan on having three of us working on it with one cutting and two laying, and at about 750 square feet I'm guessing we can get done in either one day or maybe one day plus a few hours into a second one. It's basically a living room, kitchen/dining room, hallway, small entry hallway, and one bedroom. We might hold-off on the trim until the next day, but that I wouldn't think should take too long.
Thanks for the advice..
Alex
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wrote:

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I used to do job estimating for a production operation, the math is simple. He has 750 square feet. Laminate comes in many sizes, but if you estimate that each are about 4 square feet, you will have 187 boards to lay. If that takes 5 minutes (real optimistic for a non-pro) per board, you need 935 minutes non stop. That is 15.5 hours. He is not going to get it done in a day and a bit because you need to move furniture, remove and reinstall baseboards and trim door jambs as well as install underlay. Probably 3 to 4 days.
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Alex wrote:

Laminate flooring is supposed to simulate wooden decking. Imagine what happens in a house with oak flooring as you move from one room to another and the floor rotates 90.
Vertigo.
I'd try to keep the orientation the same, reserving transition pieces to transition from one floor type to that of a different type (i.e.: laminate to carpet or tile).

"One [person] cutting" may be unnecessary as a full time job.
A technique I found goes like this: Lay one course and cut the last plank to fit. The cut-off piece is the starter piece for the next course (the planks have to overlap, like laying bricks). This cut-off piece may not be suitable as a starter - it may be too short (less than about ten inches), so you start the next course with a full plank. So, then, the job is: a) lay a row (some minutes), b) cut to fit, c) lay another row, d) repeat.
I'd remove the trim and put one person to reconditioning it. Fill in holes, sand, paint, sand, paint. Couple coats of enamel. That'll take a day in itself.
You will have to undercut the door frames. This is straight-forward, but non-trivial. You've got what, five doors? Each will take up to a half-hour unless you have an expensive power tool. A Dremel won't do it. A jig-saw, circular saw, angle grinder, or other common thing won't work. You've got to cut the frame; you can't cut the laminate to fit. At a minimum, you'll need something similar to this:
http://www.hartvilletool.com/product/11101
Even then, if you get frustrated you end up with busted knuckles! You'll also use a Dremel for the intricate massaging and L-shaped cuts. A wood rasp comes in handy.
Have fun!
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HeyBub wrote:

I have one of those. I got too dull to use after the third door -- dang cheap Chinese metal. :-(
Now I use a standard crosscut hand saw: * Lay a scrap of the flooring material upsidedown on the bare floor next to the door frame. * Lay the saw flat on the scrap. * Saw away. Finish in three minutes. Use the specialty tool in case there's an odd corner.
--
Steve Bell
New Life Home Improvement
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wrote:

Another consideration is, with the laminate I had, it was recommended to lay them lengthwise into the light of a room like brightest wall with windows, patio door, etc. In other words, the end of the boards are at the light source and you would be looking down the length of each piece.
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Red Green wrote:

Maybe. I think the artsy-fartsy crowd would champion orienting the planks in the same direction as the longest wall.
It all depends, I suspect, on the unique characteristics of each individual room. But if you lay perpendicular to the longest wall, you will die of Chastic Fibrosis (a disease usually found in foxes).
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Real artsy-fartsy's probably don't buy it at HD and install themself. BTW, I call them La-dee-Da types. The etymology of either goes back to those with their nose up their ass.
I suspect you don't mean Foxes as in Two Wild & Crazy Guys :-)
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Think ahead. In five, ten or thirty years you'll want to change or repair one room. A transition strip makes that much easier than if the entire house in interconnected. The boards may run in opposite directions also.
In addition to other tips mentioned, get a pair of knee pads. They make the job much easier on the body.
I also recommend doing this while younger. I did my family room and hallway five years ago. I'm converting a bedroom to a sewing room for my wife and I started the floor last weekend. This time around I'm taking more and longer breaks. The getting up and down is a real PITA. This 100 ft is taking twice what 350 feet did back then
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Get a pull bar or make one if you have the resources. Not sure if the HF ones are any good. Lip may bend from hammering on it if gauge is light. One I got from the Borg was good. Part of a kit.
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber751 http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber447

I lived without using that. Just used a jig saw. I would think you need a taper jig if you use a table saw for ripping since walls are not going to be straight, Heck, at some corners, the wall may even bow out from a taper..
What I could not have lived without was the chop saw. Lesson I learned is MAKE SURE you use a carbide tipped blade otherwise the saw blade will blue smoke after about 10 cuts. Laminate I used had aluminum oxide used in it's surface (better wear). Keep in mind Al Oxide is what's automotive sandpaper used for metal.
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Red Green wrote:

Yeah. I used a miter saw to begin with which wasn't quite enough depth (cut, flip, cut) and used my radial arm saw for the rips. After one room, I said "screw this!" and got a cheap table saw. Worth it.
Your point about a taper jig is a good one, but inasmuch as the planks shouldn't contact the wall anyway, minor wobbles of the wall are insignificant.
One other observation about knee-pads. I didn't use them. I scooted around on my butt (the laminate is really slickery). My not-inconsiderable weight also help hold the stuff in place. The only thing to keep in mind, as you use the rubber mallet between your legs, is to hit what you're aiming at.
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Oh, one other tool that may be helpful but not necessary is a contour gauge: http://www.johnsonlevel.com//jl/spccontour.php
It can be very handy to have around for many things. One of those tools you never justify buying for one particular project but you end up using it on many.
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Alex wrote:

Alex,
Do follow manufacturers installation procedures. I know some off brands, do not include any type of instructions. If this is the case, grab basic 101 installation instructions from a brand name on-line.
I'm certified 3x over, with different manufacturers. You will find you will need a transition strip at all doorways. There are several reasons for this, one being your rooms have different humidity in them, or the hallway humidity is different than the rooms, etc.
Floating floors don't move per say, they do expand & contract. Having a "solid" sheet of flooring wanting to contract or expand, and part of it not wanting to, can result in some gaps or buckle points. Once dust/dirt get in a gap, it will never close back to where it should be. Buckles speak for them self.
Good luck on your project.
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I am no expert by any means. I have installed laminate about 5 times so far. One way to keep the cutting to a minimum is to block off the area you want to cover into rectangles using the room dividers. Then lay each rectangle individually. My first job was about 600 square feet with a long hallway and shaped like an L TI was using Pergo which required clamping and gluing. I had several small but noticeable gaps. The next job after partitioning did not have any gaps. Richard
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Alex wrote:

Read the instructions of the laminate manufacturer. Some require transitions between doorways. My personal experience is that if you need transitions to plan for them before you bring the plank to the doorway. Installing the transition has space and connecting requirements. You will be highly upset when you find out there isn't enough space or too much space for the gap. Another benefit of the transition is when one of the planks gets damaged for some reason later you will be able to slide adjoining planks around a bit to get the old one out and new one in. The transition will also allow you to work in different rooms and meet up at the doorway.
A scroll saw will be invaluable for cutting odd shapes to fit around fireplaces or radiators, etc. A square will be handy also for marking straight lines. Decent kneepads are a must. The moisture barrier below the laminate must be installed properly. Above all patience and planning are what will make the job done right.
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The only way to have the floors be seamless throughout the house is to pick a room and start there. When you hit a doorway, just keep going as if it's all just one large odd-shaped room, which is really all it is.
If you ever want to re-do one room, simply saw through the laminate at the transition and pull up the flooring in that room. Simple.
You could also put simulated thresholds in at each doorway transition, but if the boards don't line up on either side of the transition, it's going to look junky and half-assed. If you turn the flooring 90 degrees from one room to the next, you better put a barf bucket next to the doorway so people with sensitive equilibriums can divest themselves of their lunch as they go from one room to the next.
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Alex wrote:

Read the instructions that come with your material, and check the company's web site. You might get lucky.
It's likely that your materials will have a maximum distance you can go before being _required_ to put in a transition. Since this will be a floating floor, it can expand a good bit. You definitely *don't* want that expansion to go from a bedroom, across the hall, and into another bedroom, binding against the door frames (assuming the distance would exceed the specs).
I usually lay the boards parallel to the longest wall of the room. I also try *not* to lay the boards so you're looking the length of them from the main view into the room. Also consider the direction the supporting beams run under the floor, if it's not concrete.
Other people have mentioned that changing the orientation from room to room is disorienting. It's never bothered me, but you should consider your own family. I've seen plenty of old houses where the floor guy got really creative, making a mitered frame around the edge with patterns in the middle.
--
Steve Bell
New Life Home Improvement
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