Thursday, May 17, 2018

DIY Laminate Plank Flooring Installation

Well hello there friends!  I hope you are all having a fantastic week so far.  I feel like I'm somewhere in between being super anxious/stressed about our upcoming move and relaxed because I don't really have any major projects going on right now.  It's a really strange feeling and I'm not quite sure what to do with myself!

As we enjoy our last few weeks in our current home I've found myself looking around and truly admiring all of the hard work that we've put into our home. At the top of the list is our laminate plank floors that we installed ourselves last October.

When I first showed them off in my One Room Challenge Living Room Reveal last fall, I promised a full tutorial "very soon" but time completely got away from me!

Today I am finally going to share the process with you all in case any of you are thinking about taking on this on yourselves. I was super duper nervous about it, but it turned out to be much simpler than I thought it would be and trust me, if we can do it--anyone can!

Supplies Used: (Affiliate links may be provided for convenience.  For more info, see my full disclosure here.) 
It looks like a long list but luckily we already owned most of the tools. I've found that the most affordable place to purchase tools is Amazon but you can also go through Wikibuy ( which operates as a website and Chrome extension that finds you the best deals across the web on products. They don't sell the products, they just match you with the best prices.

Before I dive in, I just want to quickly explain why we chose laminate flooring over real wood.  Although budget was a big factor, the main reason we went with laminate was because we have two wild little boys that routinely throw toys and eating utensils on the floor. I wanted something that would be super durable and easy to clean and Pergo flooring checked off both of those criteria!

Also, there are A LOT of color options--holy moly!  After months of debate I finally chose Riverbend Oak. 

I ordered a whole box rather than a sample so that I could really get a feel for how it would look.  If I hated it I figured that I could just return it, but of course I fell in love the second I took the first plank out of the box.

The first thing we did was remove the baseboards and shoe molding.  We scored the caulk at the top with a utility knife before sliding the crow bar behind it to pop it off.

Our baseboards were old and in pretty bad shape so we decided to replace them, but if you are re-attaching them it would be a good idea to label them and to use extra care while pulling them off.  

I know the night time lighting isn’t doing the carpet any justice here, but yikes!

We also removed the metal transition strip between the linoleum dining room and carpeted living room using the crowbar.

The next morning we began ripping the old carpet up.  Please excuse the blurry picture, I only had a second to snap it since Anthony and his friends were working at the speed of lightening haha!  

After the carpet was out we started pulling up the padding.

It was pretty easy to pull up but there were several staples holding the padding down so we had to go back around with pliers to remove them.

Several is actually an understatement!  It took awhile to get them all out so I worked on this while the guys started removing the tile on the landing. 

We also removed the tack strips and were relieved to see that where the sheet linoleum and carpet met was pretty flat so we didn’t need to level it.

Anthony and his friends used a sledgehammer to take out the tile from the landing and we also had to remove the step and replace it with some plywood since it was rounded at the end and wouldn’t work with our Cap A Tread covers.

The floors that we chose came with underlayment attached to the back, but we decided to add another layer for extra comfort and sound protection.  We went with Pergo Gold Underlayment even though it was the priciest.  In our opinion it was worth the few extra dollars because it created a better barrier than the cheaper stuff.

After we folded out two pieces we butt them up together and then used the handy adhesive strip to attach them.  

As we went we used a utility knife around corners and edges and attached it to the subfloor with a staple gun.

Finally it was time to start laying the planks!  When I installed the Peel & Stick Planks in the bathrooms I showed you all this nifty tool called a Contour Gage.  It is comprised of little metal pins that push back against obstacles so that you can create a pattern to trace and cut out of your plank.

We decided to start on the landing since it involved two doors and the steps.  We used the contour gage to trace around the closet door frame and then used a jigsaw to cut it out.  As you can see it wasn’t a perfect fit but caulk later on fixed that.

You could also use this around door moldings but we found it easier to use a dremel so that the plank could just slide right underneath.  Just make sure you measure your plank thickness and mark it on the molding before cutting.

I didn’t get pictures of installing the tread covers but we simply measured the thickness that they needed to be cut to and then attached them with a small nail using a nail gun on the sides (which would later be covered by baseboard).

The next day we began laying the floors in the dining room.  It’s important to get the first row straight unless you like the crooked funhouse look!  So we used a level and also used a couple of spacers to leave a gap next to the wall which allows for expansion.

When we got to a vent we used a jigsaw to cut around it.

The planks have grooves that slide into each other and then snap in to place.

It took a little practice to get it down at first.  We purchased this kit that helped tremendously.  It had a piece you could rest against the edge and hit a rubber mallet against to knock the plank into place.

It also came with another tool that you could hook to the edge of a plank and hit it with a hammer  pull it that way.

This thing came in super handy when we put in the last plank that butted up next to the wall.

After all of the flooring was laid it was time to cut and attach the new baseboards.  We went with a simple flat style because we liked the clean look of them.  

For the area next to the steps we actually purchased a large piece of pine and Anthony used a jigsaw to go around the steps.  You’ll see what I mean in a second!

Around the fireplace we had to go back and use the dremel to cut out a space just big enough to fit this T-molding that I purchased.

I didn't take a picture of the process but this is how it looks with the T-molding in.

Okay now let's take a look at some before and after pictures!  The living room originally had cheap carpet that we had a terrible time keeping clean.

Here is how it looks today!

You may also notice that I added board and batten all around the living room, which makes a huge difference in here.

Over in the dining room we previously had linoleum with a tile type pattern on it.

And this is the view today!

The wall at the back also got new shiplap since the old was partly destroyed during baseboard removal and I always wanted thicker planks than the V-groove ones that I used previously.

And our table and chandelier just so happen to go with the floor color beautifully.

The fireplace used to be outdated off white tile with dark grout and was just very...blah.

I stenciled the tile (tutorial here) and just adore how it looks next to the pretty new floors!

The landing used have the same tile and besides being somewhat of an eye sore, it was also freezing cold to step on in the colder months as we went up and down the stairs.

Even though this spot took more time than any other because of the steps, it definitely paid off because I love how it flows down into the living room.

Here you can see how we finished the baseboard next to the steps like I was talking about previously.

The metal transition piece that was once between the carpet in the living room and the linoleum in the dining room drove me totally batty.

This is how that spot looks now!

So much better, don’t you think?

The same linoleum from the dining room also continued through the kitchen.  I put a big rug under the island to try to hide some of it, but it didn't help much.

Now it feels like a whole new kitchen with updated floors!

Oh!  Just one minor quick note.  Or NOT so minor haha!  We actually had the entire living room and dining room laid before I realized that we were lining them up in a perfect brick pattern.  Of course natural wood floors are staggered randomly, so I knew that it was going to drive me insane.  To make a long story short, we ended up having to pull them all up and relay them.  Major pain.  So learn from our mistake and make sure you randomize your seams!  (You can see what I mean in this post.)

Even the mudroom space looks much better than before.

We saved quite a bit of cash by installing ourselves.  Between the cost of the floors, the underlayment and tools we spent about a third of what we were quoted to have them installed.

I am just now realizing that I didn't get any pictures of making the cuts.  However, you're in luck because our new home needs new floors and I'm pretty sure we are going to go with the same ones because I love them so much so you will most likely get a second tutorial later on with some better pictures.

Thank you for sticking with me through what is probably one of my longest posts, you all deserve a big cookie!  I  hope you all have a fantastic rest of the week!

Linking up to these awesome parties!

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