Archives » March 16th, 2004

March 16, 2004

Renovation Jones

I had to pull an all-nighter, literally working from sundown to sunup, but I finally got the living room done. Months of renovation and living on plywood have paid off with the new floors, and a new entertainment center thrown in to boot. I’m amazed—we finally have one room in the house we don’t have to be ashamed of. We can finally have company over; we’d have to blindfold them as they walked through the rest of the house, but still. We have one room that actually feels like a home, plus the baby’s room and one bathroom. Only five more rooms left! At the rate we’re going, we should be done by the time Longhorn ships.

Installing laminate floors is not hard. Join the boards at an angle, press together, and rotate until it clicks. Use a tapping block to close up any gaps. What really takes time is all the prep work. Our living room had about 50 square feet of rotten floorboards, so those had to come up and be replaced. Then I had to walk the room and fix any squeaky boards. Then I had to work in waves, moving all the furniture first to one side of the room, and then back as I made my way across. Most of the junk actually got moved to the dining room, creating a zone of collateral damage that stretched into the kitchen. I had to measure and cut all the boards, especially around the fireplace hearth. Our hearth is made of brick and describes a 90 degree arc in the corner of the room. I had to assemble enough boards (9 all together) to completely cover it, and then draw on the underside of each one where the edge of the brick was. I then took the jigsaw to each piece individually and made the cuts, reassembling it all like a jigsaw puzzle back in the room. I then had to measure what length to cut the boards at the opposite wall so the gap at each end would be exactly 1/8 of an inch. I can’t say I always hit that goal, but that’s what trim pieces are for!

After the pain of measuring boards and making the cuts and moving furniture is done, installing the floors is a breeze. This is the fun part of the whole job, but it’s also the part that’s finished the fastest. You start by putting down a foam underlayment, then you just snap the pieces together, one row at a time. Left to right. Keep your tapping block handy. Snap pound, snap pound, snap pound. In under five minutes you’ve got one row done. You can get about six rows down before you need another piece of foam. In all it took 19 rows to finish the room, at about 5 pieces per row (4 by the fireplace). Ten boxes at $40 per box, makes $400 for this 200+ square foot room. That’s dirt cheap. That’s cheaper than carpet. It helps to do the labor yourself, of course, but the point remains. Laminate floors are super yummy, and one of the least expensive renovations you can do to a house.

The kitchen and entryway, on the other hand, are going to be done in ceramic tile. We don’t want to talk about ceramic tile right now. Ceramic tile is goopy and grouty and takes dozens of steps to finish. Bad ceramic tile, no cookie!