When Abe and I purchased our home a few years ago, we knew we were going to have to purchase something in need of a little love to keep it in our price range. We found a townhouse in a nice area of town that was perfect for our budget, and structurally sound – but boy did it need some updating! Before we moved in we ripped up every inch of old, stained, carpet in the place… not to mention the low quality laminate stretching from the entryway into the (dark blue) kitchen.
Beneath the carpet we found concrete (even on the second floor), and beneath the laminate we found…. vinyl. Old vinyl. Smelly old vinyl. As in, the original vinyl from when the house was built in 1970. The previous owners had clearly attempted to remove it, dumped some ammonia containing compound on the parts that were too well attached, then decided to lay the laminate over it. It was definitely contributing to the musty smell of the house, which I am quite thankful to report is now gone thanks to hours of scraping by my husband, parents, and I!
We replaced almost all of the original flooring with new wide-plank dark espresso colored laminate from Lumber Liquidators which had a pad attached. It was relatively inexpensive – but still looked nice on the floor. I say almost all of the flooring, because when we got upstairs we realized the back bedroom would require some serious (as in whole room) leveling in order to lay the laminate due to the cantilevered rear wall which juts out above the patio. We have decided to replace the carpet in this room with new carpet, which will make this a luxurious master bedroom retreat. We have also decided to put in custom stained wood on the stairs, instead of trying to figure out the laminate there.
While we had the floors up we decided to go ahead and repaint the walls as well – we went with a nice neutral sand color for the whole house. Also note the exposed wiring to the fan in the before picture – my wonderful husband re-did the wiring to run it through the wall and also add a switch that controls the light and fan separately! Oh.. did I mention that I now know how to float and patch a wall? There was a lot of that to be done!
So what lessons did we learn from this phase?
- laying a floating laminate floor is much easier than gluing one down
- get a laminate with the padding attached if possible – one less install step
- you have to put down a moisture barrier first to prevent moisture from getting to your new floor
- don’t get a laminate with grooves between the planks – even if you put glue between the planks (highly recommended in wet areas) water can still penetrate the planks and make them bubble
- “self-leveling” compound is not really self-leveling. And damn difficult to work with over large areas.
Lumber Liquidators had a great selection of laminate in a variety of prices, so we were very happy with them. They no longer carry the exact laminate that we used (but if you want enough to do one room email me… I have lots leftover ha ha) but they have other great options, as well as the new vinyl planks that look like wood and real hardwoods. By the way – if you haven’t considered the vinyl planks, you should! They are not your grandma’s vinyl and they look awesome! My brother- and sister-in-law installed this in their home and it looks so good you would never know it is vinyl, plus it holds up really well. It’s also even easier than the floating laminate to install, requires no moisture barrier, and cuts with a box cutter instead of a saw! Seriously, if this option had been available when we were remodeling we would have bought it instead.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be filling you in on what else we have been up to including
- The Kitchen
- The Bathrooms
- The Laundry Room
- The Windows/Doors
So stay tuned!