A while back I had promised my mother that my husband and I would replace her kitchen flooring for her. We had gotten as far as buying the laminate flooring, then tucked it away in her garage, and there it sat for the next couple of months, not quite forgotten, but repeatedly deferred behind other projects until one week when I finally took a few days off work and we committed to getting it done for her.
My mother lives in a townhouse and her kitchen is an open floor plan with an island, but smallish, maybe 75 sq feet. We’ve installed laminate flooring before, so felt this was a job we could handle. I told her to bring it in the house to get it warmed up and humidified for her home, and arranged for her to to have her refridgerator emptied out so we could move that. Thursday we arrived at 9 am with our tools in hand, all set to remove the old floor and bang in the new one. We figured, somewhat optimistically as it turned out, how hard could this be? We had a plan which looked something like this:
Not bad, right? About 30 minutes later we’re making our first run of the day to Menards, which if you aren’t from the area is a big box home repair store as we quickly discovered we hadn’t brought along a small trim puller to get the trim off the cupboards. Finally get that going, get the trim all off and start pulling up the old flooring. Some of it was glued, some not and of course the first piece was glued…12 feet wide! After all that was up, we decided to replace the underlaiment, as some of the old had gotten wet and was ruined. So, tear that up.
So we put down the new underlaiment, and pull out her staple gun to secure it, then found it didn’t work. We spent about 90 minutes trying to fix a $20 staple gun, because isn’t that what everyone does? We tore it completely apart, got it back together, never did figure it out. So off we went to Menards for our second trip of the day for a staple gun. Hubby spots one that looks just like something he picked up at a garage sale for $1, that one’s worked beautifully for us, so we bought it for my mom as a replacement. It’s simple to use, and easy to hold. We got back to her house, loaded it up, pressed the handle and…nuttin’. Say WHAT???? You guessed it. Defective unit. But of course we can’t just go back to Menards, we (meaning my darling spouse) wanted to try to fix it. After an hour of trying he was able to successfully reassemble it with no spare parts but never did get it to work, and we made our third trip of the day to Menards to replace it. By now of course, our simple plan was looking a lot less like “idea, plan, action” and a whole lot more like the flow chart at right.
Fortunately he is very wise, and brought along a test board, so we could test it in the parking lot before we left. Once we had proof it worked, back to my mom’s we went.
We finally got the underlaiment down, and started putting in the actual flooring. In the meantime I sent my mom off to the big box stores to see if she could get reducer strips to put between the flooring and carpet, as her old one looked horrible, and of course she couldn’t get them. (Side note: We bought her flooring at a local builders overstock warehouse, that didn’t sell the reducers.) So even though her flooring is a discontinued color, I took a chance and called customer service at the manufacturer and asked if I could still get them to match. We totally lucked out (we could!!) – which partly made up for the 3 trips to Menards. So those were ordered and arrived a week later.
We managed to get about halfway across her floor, then realized we didn’t have the jigsaw that would be needed to cut the hole for the vent in the floor. By this time it was 10 PM! So we called it a night, and went back for day 2.
The second day went smoother than the first, but still took more time than expected, and by the time the flooring was in place, the quarter round was put back in a few places and appliances returned to their original spots, it was nearly 5 pm. The remaining quarter round was held to be repainted. (My mom’s kitchen cabinets are white, and the quarter round had gotten some dings so it needed painting/touch up.) Later we found out we’d actually left a bit too much space on the edges for the floating floor and ended up getting new quarter round that was wider, as hers was the absolute narrowest and cheapest that her builder could buy when they built the place. Fortunately her other son-in-law has the skills to install that, along with the threshold between the carpet and flooring.
You’d think this would have made me run screaming for the hills, wouldn’t you? Nope, not in the least. In fact, it’s strangely the opposite. We need to replace the flooring in our own home, so I’m looking at it as a test run: what should we do differently when we do ours. Yes, there is quite a list we’ve compiled, from check the staple gun to verify the width of the quarter round and the hell with how much the directions say to leave for the floating floor! But after it is all said and done, I’m still glad we did it. We saved a ton of money doing this for her, and about every 2 weeks in the first two months after we finished, she sent me an email telling me how much she loved her new kitchen floor. That made everything worth it. My only regret is that we can’t get any more of it to do her entry ways by her front and garage entrys, but there’s always Craig’s List.