How hard is it to install laminate flooring? I recently picked up the
home improvement bug but lacking in diy skills.
The house is 6 years old with the original carpet. With pets and
everyday usage the carpet is looking a little used. It still looks
better than a lot of other carpets I have seen though. On occasion we
go over it with a carpet cleaner but that can only do so much.
I would never want to do a entire floor in carpet EVER again. Its like
a big dirty mop that you can never clean all the way. A area rug would
be ok but not the whole floor. Is laminate the best choice for
Let me start by saying I also hate W/W carpet, and wish I'd had it
ripped out before I moved in, and the hardwood underneath refinished.
But it was brand new carpet, and I was in a hurry and feeling broke from
the closing costs, so I said the heck with it. Cream color, of course,
and after 5 years, looks like crap, even without pets and kids here.
What is under the carpet at your place? Given the age, I predict
particle board underlayment. If so, laminate (as much as I hate it) is
probably your cheapest choice for a smooth floor that (sort of)
resembles wood, with okay durability. (Vinyl is cheapest, but I presume
you don't want that other than in kitchen/bath/entry hall.) A step up is
engineered floor, which goes down like laminate, but has a layer of
actual wood on top. Both can be done DIY, given attending a free class
at the Borg on Saturday (or having a buddy that has installed one
before), and buying a cheap cutoff saw someplace like Harbor Freight or
CraigsList. Most expensive would be the traditional choices of real
hardwood and real tile for the wet areas, like near outside doors. But
to put that down would require pulling up the underlayment, unless you
want to modify every single door. Removing underlayment can be done DIY
(unless glued down), and still have a pro lay the new floor. I do not
recommend either real wood or tile for a first-time DIY project. It
isn't hard, but at least watching someone with experience do it a couple
times, saves a lot of learn-as-you-go.
Not sure whats under the carpet. I guess I should check. I actually
thought about doing all vinyl before I bought the house but had people
tell me I'm crazy and they would never do that. I could consider vinyl
if they had something that didn't make my whole house look like a
kitchen. Does it also come in planks? I realize now that ANYTHING
looks better than carpet after a few years. Just after writing my post
one of the dogs barfed in the middle of the living room floor.
I took a glance where the cable guy drilled through the floor and it
appears to be particle board under the pad. I also wanted to mention
if I did do vinyl whats a good way to seal between the planks to make
them spill resistant? Also do I need any kind of moisture barrier like
Particle board is just, plain bad news. If you have a spill the goes
unnoticed for too long it swells up and never completely shrinks again.
As far as appearance goes, vinyl is OK. Only an idiot would think that
printed wood grain on vinyl is "real wood" but with furniture in place and a
few "throw rugs" which can be laundered if needed it is "gud enuf" for most
un-pretentous home owners. If you buy some extra pieces, you can replace
damaged sections and keep the floor looking good until you really, really
get tired of it or you have the urge to spend lots of money.
Part of the "surface prep" for vinyl is to paint the underlayment with latex
primer and to fill cracks and holes in the underlayment with "leveling
I suppose that if you MUST keep the particle board, the latex primer will
give you a safety margin between the spill have having to get it up without
Good idea. You'll like being rid of it in the long run. There are may
types of laminate floor material of different qualities. Some are cheap
plastic laminates that look fake, but are durable, other cost more but look
like wood, others are real wood with a pre-finish.
I've done a few rooms and a hallway with engineered wood. You need minimal
tools. A cheap miter saw is great for the end cuts. Aside from that, a
hammer and a kit of tapping block and puller are about it. I'd star with a
small bedroom and then move to the living room if you want to sharpen your
Last question first: Laminate is (almost always) far more durable than
carpet. Most laminate is coated with the same stuff used to bullet-proof
fighter jet windscreens. Laminate flooring is MUCH easier to keep clean than
carpet, but, like tile, you may have to clean it more often because it shows
the dirt more so than carpet. Fortunately, a mere sweeping is often
Throw rugs should have rubber backs - laminate is slickery.
Extra tools you may not have that will prove very useful:
* Rubber mallet
* Harbor Freight MultiMiracle Tool for under-cutting door jambs (on sale now
* HF Floor installation kit:
http://www.harborfreight.com/floor-installation-kit-96447.html Note the
angled bar. No matter how clever and patient you are, some planks just WILL
NOT click together. You've got to whack 'em with a hammer.
* Circular or cheap table saw. You will have to rip some planks at the far
edge of the room.
* Knee-pads (or you can scoot around on your butt).
* Remove the baseboards. Use this opportunity to clean, repair, and re-paint
* When replacing the baseboards, there's a trick involving a school-compass
to getting them flush with the new floor.
* If what's under your carpet is concrete, an angle grinder is handy for
cutting off the nails holding down the carpet tack-strips.
* A spongy underlayment results in a better "feel" on the finished floor
than a mere vinyl vapor barrier (but costs more).
* Economical - but servicable - laminate can be found at
--Lumber Liquidators (I used the $0.75/sq ft variety in two bedrooms)
--Floor & Decor Outlet (And the $0.44/sq ft in another)
* Planks are almost always aligned with the longest dimension of the room.
At less than $0.50/sq ft, laminate is a swell choice for bedrooms. Its more
expensive cousins are more than suitable for high-traffic areas.
Bottom line: Try a small room first. I'll wager you'll like the result and
enjoy the project.
Installation is straightforward and involves no special skills or tricks.
You can do a bedroom in a week-end.
Now the bad news:
* When you remove the existing carpet, you'll retch for a week at the
nastiness you discover under it. That's nastiness with a capital NAS.
thanks to everyone for the great replies. I'm reading some very bad
things about laminate and getting turned off of the idea. To me it
seems if I were to go with some really high end laminate or the
engineered wood mentioned I might as well save up and do hardwood.
Right now I'm leaning towards the peel and stick vinyl planks. Could I
do this on top of the particle board underlayment? They say laminate
is more fire resistant. If we don't smoke or do vinyl by a fireplace
is the stuff safe?
I like the idea of vinyl because its cheap and I can do it myself. If
I were to ever move I could just have some cheap carpet put down to
sell the place so I'm not concerned if a future owner would want it or
not. I plan to head out to some flooring stores and check out demo
Not a fan of peel'n'stick, because it likes to keep moving around, and
(especially in a kitchen or bath) there is often a problem with black
crud growing in the cracks. They do have a cousin to laminate, that
clicks together, but the top looks like tile. Not sure how thick it is,
but the pictures I have seen look interesting. May be worth talking the
local dealer out of a sample piece, to take home and try under all your
doors and such, to see if there is enough headroom now that you have
pulled up the carpet. While you are there, show the dealer a dimensioned
diagram of your rooms, and get a price on textured vinyl- it may be
cheaper than you think, and a pro install job makes a big difference.
They (or you) will need to seal all the seams in the particle board, and
pound down any high nails, but it should make an acceptable substrate
for vinyl. Some of the fancier vinyls do a decent imitation of ceramic
tile or slate. In a darker or mixed color, with washable area rugs here
and there, it would not look too hillbilly.
I have seen the squares get real nasty in bathrooms also. I'm reading
some reports on the peel and stick planks and most people are happy
using them in areas besides the bathroom. They claim its easier to
replace a single plank because they don't click together. But you do
bring up some good concerns. Whether they click or stick isn't there
the possibility of spills to get underneath and fester? Only other
option I see is to use the roll out vinyl so everything is sealed.
Actually I haven't ripped up the carpet yet. I have family telling me
that the carpet isn't that bad and it would be a waste of money to rip
it up right now. So maybe this is a project I should hold off on for a
while until I find the best compromise between, looks, price,
cleanliness, and durability.
I am also doing a room in the basement and plan to just stain the
concrete floor. Simple and clean.
No, no, no. That is where you practice and experiment.
I did ceramic tile on an area like that and the results were so good
I'll use it again. Try your laminate there, or whatever you think you
might like upstairs.
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