Author Topic: New flooring help  (Read 9712 times)

Norman Johnson

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New flooring help
« on: May 16, 2012, 07:26:45 AM »
We are ripping out our gross carpet and want to put down something new. We have a small 1947 1.5 storey war house and are just going to do the main floor.

Right now we are trying to decide between vinyl or laminate. We are also trying to decide if we want to do it ourselves or hire someone. And finally, so we want to put the faux hardwood in the bathroom and kitchen to do the entire first floor? (I realise you want to use vinyl in we areas.)

Another consideration is wear on the floor. We have two puking cats and a toddler who is about to potty train.

Thanks!

BenDarDunDat

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2012, 07:35:11 AM »
Good laminate or good vinyl would be great for kids and puking kitties. If you are willing to watch a few youtube videos, you can handle the installation of either. Really, the only thing that would cause me to back off would be if I needed to pour some thin set over a large area for leveling vinyl.

Good vinyl/laminate are similar in price, so it's your choice.

Norman Johnson

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2012, 07:42:51 AM »
I thought the layer of thin foam "levelled" things out?

We have hardwood that was put directly on the beams and they a layer of some sort of square tile under the carpet. We briefly discussed redoing the hardwoods, but I don't want to pull up the tile in case it's asbestos and we can't have the main level of our house out of commission for as long as it would take to sand and seal the hardwoods.

James

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2012, 07:46:59 AM »
Laminate is becoming rediculously easy to install, and can handle anything toddlers or cats can throw at it.  They have laminate you don't glue, just snap it together over a thin layer of foam that keeps it "floating" over the underlayment.  Follow the instructions, watch some youtube videos, and take your time.  Biggest issue is a good saw, but you can rent that for the day when you are ready if you don't have one.  Good luck!

arebelspy

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2012, 07:59:14 AM »
We just tiled one of our rentals with some (fairly) cheap tile from Home Depot.  Pics attached. More than laminate, but it looks a lot better.  Bedrooms are still carpeted, of course.  IIRC it was 80 cents per sq. ft.

We also have some of that faux hardwood (it's wood, but easy install, they "snap" together) in our condo that we live in and found Costco was the best place to get that cheap.

Laminate sucks in that if you ruin part of it, you gotta replace the whole thing, and generally doesn't look as good (IMO).  But it's a nice cheap option.
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Norman Johnson

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2012, 08:06:41 AM »
We were looking at the snap together stuff. What kind of saw? And how good? My friend said something about an $80 blade.

Re: tile, I personally like the stuff and would go that way, but there is just no way we can have the kitchen, living room, and bathroom out of commission while I tile and the let it dry. And all during toddler nap time. I have tiled a shower, doing a floor must be similar?

(FTR, we are reasonably handy and know how to use tools. I'm the one who fusses over the tedious stuff, while my husband is more the brute force of the team.)

James

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2012, 08:44:01 AM »
We were looking at the snap together stuff. What kind of saw? And how good? My friend said something about an $80 blade.

Re: tile, I personally like the stuff and would go that way, but there is just no way we can have the kitchen, living room, and bathroom out of commission while I tile and the let it dry. And all during toddler nap time. I have tiled a shower, doing a floor must be similar?

(FTR, we are reasonably handy and know how to use tools. I'm the one who fusses over the tedious stuff, while my husband is more the brute force of the team.)

I would find out what the manufacturer recommends on the saw blade.  Probably something with carbide teeth would be good, the laminate is really rough on saw blades.  Cut with the surface down, and the edges should be covered by the trim.
 
I do suggest getting good quality laminate, cheap laminate not only looks bad, it wears bad.  Nothing wrong with real wood either, just depends on what you want, quality, cost, etc.

strider3700

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2012, 04:05:28 PM »
Vinyl cuts with a razor blade.  Just use a straight edge and cut through to score it then snap it.  It was trivial to install.  Here it is in my main bathroom.  We love it. It priced out the same as paying someone to install lino but I could do this on my own schedule and late at night when the kids were sleeping. 


Laminate I cut with a chop saw  but that makes lots of dust. They make a cutter for it but they're not cheap.   It's definitely hard on blades as well.    Here's part of the basement we did with it.


We also have real wood.  It's original and squeaks a lot.  It's not the subfloor or joists squeaking either, so someone probably installed the wood wrong 50 years ago. 


When/if we move and are redoing the floors we'll definitely reuse vinyl in the bathroom. Probably do the same in a kitchen.  For the rest of the house we prefer the laminate over the foam. It's a little cushier.   I won't bother with real wood.  The extra cost just isn't worth it in my mind and it's a far more difficult install compared to the other two.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2012, 04:13:41 PM by strider3700 »

James

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2012, 04:26:47 PM »
Vinyl cuts with a razor blade.  Just use a straight edge and cut through to score it then snap it.  It was trivial to install.  Here it is in my main bathroom.  We love it. It priced out the same as paying someone to install lino but I could do this on my own schedule and late at night when the kids were sleeping. 

Laminate I cut with a chop saw  but that makes lots of dust. They make a cutter for it but they're not cheap.   It's definitely hard on blades as well.    Here's part of the basement we did with it.

We also have real wood.  It's original and squeaks a lot.  It's not the subfloor or joists squeaking either, so someone probably installed the wood wrong 50 years ago. 

When/if we move and are redoing the floors we'll definitely reuse vinyl in the bathroom. Probably do the same in a kitchen.  For the rest of the house we prefer the laminate over the foam. It's a little cushier.   I won't bother with real wood.  The extra cost just isn't worth it in my mind and it's a far more difficult install compared to the other two.


I agree about vinyl, we have it in our kitchen and love it.  The good stuff has a nice deep impression to it, ours looks like quality tile, and has a comfortable feel under foot.  It also doesn't break dishes or freeze your feet as much as laminate, wood or tile.  It's definitely not as forgiving of mistakes, so if it's a big room with multiple pieces like ours was you might not want to take that risk on.  For some reason vinyl just doesn't look right in living rooms or bedrooms, while laminate works very well.


Love all three of those rooms, both the floor and everything else!

Norman Johnson

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2012, 06:18:34 PM »
Love the pictures, thank you! And it sounds like it cuts like drywall, something we are now pretty good at! We are doing our bathroom at some point this summer and I really like how the vinyl looks in yours!

James, could you please explain what you mean by "not forgiving of mistakes" and "big room with multiple pieces"? Our main floor is no bigger than 600 sqft and has the living room, kitchen, bathroom, a bedroom and a staircase all in there.

James

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2012, 06:34:39 PM »
James, could you please explain what you mean by "not forgiving of mistakes" and "big room with multiple pieces"? Our main floor is no bigger than 600 sqft and has the living room, kitchen, bathroom, a bedroom and a staircase all in there.


There was two issues I was thinking of.  The "mistakes" issue is simply that if you have the vinyl laid out and start cutting, and then realize it moved while you were cutting or you made some other mistake and it's short somewhere, then it's really hard to just fix the mistake.  With laminate you install each piece as you cut it so the worst mistake you can make will only waste one piece.  For our kitchen it was going around a big peninsula that scared me, it's just a very complex shape to cut and get it all laid out without mistakes.  I think I could have done it, but I found a local independent guy willing to do it for a couple hundred in cash. (huge complex kitchen with seams, etc)


The other issue is seams.  If you are able to use one continuous piece then that isn't an issue.  But if not you have to deal with making sure the seam is either covered or properly glued together.  I'm not saying it's not something you could do, just saying it's an added wrinkle to figure out.  If the seam is between a doorway that you can cover with a strip of wood or something then it's easier.

gooki

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2012, 08:10:59 PM »
If you stick to quality products and take your time you really can't go wrong.

We chose timber look vinyl for our dining/kitchen/bathroom, because it was; cheap, water resistant, used in commercial installations, looked good, textured for better grip, and thin. Photo attached. The only thing I'd do differently is pick a thicker plank. Thin planks = lots of laying, and cutting.

« Last Edit: May 16, 2012, 08:39:00 PM by gooki »

strider3700

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2012, 08:22:48 PM »

There was two issues I was thinking of.  The "mistakes" issue is simply that if you have the vinyl laid out and start cutting, and then realize it moved while you were cutting or you made some other mistake and it's short somewhere, then it's really hard to just fix the mistake.  With laminate you install each piece as you cut it so the worst mistake you can make will only waste one piece.  For our kitchen it was going around a big peninsula that scared me, it's just a very complex shape to cut and get it all laid out without mistakes.  I think I could have done it, but I found a local independent guy willing to do it for a couple hundred in cash. (huge complex kitchen with seams, etc)


We're talking different products.  The Vinyl I used snaps together like laminate.  My bathroom floor is about 5 boxes worth of pieces.  It is really just vinyl laminate. If one piece gets damaged you can either cut it out and fit another piece in with a glued edge  or pop the trim and remove everything back to that damaged piece then reinstall the rest. It's all reusable if you do lift it out, just keep the cut edges in the same place (under the trim).   I always keep a few extra pieces just incase.    The pieces are water proof  but the seems are not water tight.   Having said that it is meant for use in bathrooms and kitchens  but don't expect to flood the place with a few inches of water and the water to not get under it somehow.

The giant 1 piece sheets where you absolutely can't screw up is linoleum.  You cut it perfectly and glue it down like you described. My bathroom is not trivial so I would have paid someone to install that.  The cost of the vinyl click together  was the same as paying someone to install linoleum.

James

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2012, 06:13:55 AM »
We're talking different products.  The Vinyl I used snaps together like laminate.  My bathroom floor is about 5 boxes worth of pieces.  It is really just vinyl laminate. If one piece gets damaged you can either cut it out and fit another piece in with a glued edge  or pop the trim and remove everything back to that damaged piece then reinstall the rest. It's all reusable if you do lift it out, just keep the cut edges in the same place (under the trim).   I always keep a few extra pieces just incase.    The pieces are water proof  but the seems are not water tight.   Having said that it is meant for use in bathrooms and kitchens  but don't expect to flood the place with a few inches of water and the water to not get under it somehow.

The giant 1 piece sheets where you absolutely can't screw up is linoleum.  You cut it perfectly and glue it down like you described. My bathroom is not trivial so I would have paid someone to install that.  The cost of the vinyl click together  was the same as paying someone to install linoleum.


Ah, I see, that makes sense.  We have vinyl that came in a 12 foot role...  had I known about the snap in vinyl I might have chosen that, though with my huge kitchen it might have cost more than the big sheet with professional instal. (One benefit for when I downsize is much easier upgrades and remodeling)  Thanks for clarifying, it's good info to have.

Norman Johnson

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2012, 06:57:01 AM »
Ah, okay, I thought we were talking about different products. I'm looking at the vinyl that is like laminate planks.

Design question: would it look weird to have the same flooring throughout the entire main floor? Most people do something different in the kitchen and bath vs the living room.

Dicey

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #15 on: May 17, 2012, 07:59:24 AM »
If you do go with laminate, make sure you splurge on good underlayment. It's all fairly inexpensive, but it makes a world of difference. Having said that, there are a ton of great vinyls on the market now. There are sheets, strips, even stuff that doesn't have to be glued down and is removable, although it's comparatively expensive.

Another suggestion: if possible, do not buy the flooring at a big-box store. The reason is that the box store inventory is the same for extended periods, hence it gets put into a lot of houses. When I go to an open house where everything came from the same box, and it's all the base-grade stuff, it screams "Joe Homeowner - DIY Alert" to me. Nothing against DIY'ers per se, it's just that there are a lot of scary results out there. I think it can also create the impression that the work was done cheaply, and not high quality. Costco often has value priced options that are not in the store for long. ReStore and Craigslist can also be good. The best source for variety is a specific flooring store. No one wants your business more these days than a small business owner. They tend to be specialists, so they have a much wider array of goods at all price points to help you make a selection that's right for your home and will look good for years to come.

James

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #16 on: May 17, 2012, 08:06:00 AM »
Ah, okay, I thought we were talking about different products. I'm looking at the vinyl that is like laminate planks.

Design question: would it look weird to have the same flooring throughout the entire main floor? Most people do something different in the kitchen and bath vs the living room.

I think that would depend a lot on what the flooring looked like, I've seen plenty of houses with the same hardwood (real or laminate) throughout.  It helps to have area rugs in the living room to give it a cozier feel, and you can always make them very large if you want, though they can get expensive also.  I do think the vinyl can have a "commercial" look in a living room, but that is probably just due to my experiences of where I have seen it.

strider3700

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #17 on: May 17, 2012, 11:20:24 AM »
at my old house the living room, kitchen, hallway and both bedrooms were all a light laminate color.  It helped tie it all together and make the space feel bigger.  The bathroom was lino. and we had a lower entry area that was real tile.

AJ

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #18 on: May 17, 2012, 12:46:45 PM »
Laminate sucks in that if you ruin part of it, you gotta replace the whole thing

This. Also, while it is great if you catch spills right away, if you let liquid sit on it for any length of time (like, if your cat throws up in the middle of the night and you don't catch it till morning) it will seep into the cracks and ruin it. Plus, cheap laminate looks bad and "feels" bad under your feet, and the good stuff costs as much as real wood (though, it may be easier to install. I've never done hard wood floors, so I can't compare.)

We put the cheap stuff in our old place. It looked great at first and was crazy easy to install, but after 2 years of wear it really needed to be replaced again.

rosarugosa

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #19 on: May 19, 2012, 04:29:49 AM »
Another option is prefinished hardwood, which is what we did.  We also live in a very small home and couldn't have rooms out of commission while polyurethane dried, but hardwood was what we really wanted, so the prefinished oak was a good solution.  Our floors have proved to be attractive and durable, with the oldest floor being 15 years old at this point.
This might be a matter of individual taste & tolerance, but one of the things I like about hardwood is that dents and dings don't "ruin" it.  I think some things like wood floors, leather jackets and oriental rugs get "broken in" and age gracefully.  Things made from synthetics often just get broken as opposed to broken in.

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #20 on: May 19, 2012, 01:30:24 PM »
  I have installed tile, pergo, and vinyl planks in my houses.  I know the OP had reasons against tile, but it is still my first choice.  It's cheap, incredibly durable, and keeps its value.  Of course, if your subfloor is a mess it might not be worth it.  But how long is everything out of commission?  A day to lay the tiles, I don't think it takes very long for them to dry enough to walk on (haven't tiled a floor in a couple years.)  Then a couple days later a day to grout. Maybe a day to dry.  You can always do it a room at a time, too.  It will be annoying w/ all the clean-up, but worth it if you have no other option.
  Our plan w/ our house and rentals is to tile them all. 
Heidi

Mirwen

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #21 on: May 19, 2012, 06:00:03 PM »
I like the vinyl planks, although I haven't personally used them.  I installed laminate and within a year I had several dings which started to grow and ruined it.  Luckily it was only in my office.  I won't use it again.  My most recent install was with bamboo.  I like it even though the finish scratches a bit too easily for me.  If I had to do them all again, I would use tile.  These days you can buy porcelain tile which looks like wood.  My local Floor and Decor has it for $2 a square foot.

Dicey

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #22 on: May 19, 2012, 06:02:16 PM »
I agree with Heidi to a certain extent. However, I would caution you to be mindful of trends. I have a home in the desert, where lots of homes feature tile. You can tell the age of the home by the style of tile and grout. Check out what's trending currently and go in that direction. Tile will last a long time and when styles change, it could look dated quickly and stay that way for a very long time. I love my tile floor and am glad, glad, glad every time I walk in the door that I spent the extra money for large tiles and a diagonal installation. (I am visually aware of the pattern tile creates and an unbalanced installation drives my brain crazy!) It cost extra up front, but the amount becomes moot over the decades. Also porcelain is a better choice than ceramic as the color goes all the way through the tile so chipping is less of a concern. These are smaller issues for rental properties and I applaud Heidi's choice for durability, but style should count just a little bit too. Especially if it's not too much more expensive. A little at a time is also sage advice, but always be mindful of the transitions. Make sure you have more than enough material to complete the job and know how to do all facets of installation before you begin.

It's great that you are asking this question well in advance of attempting to start anything. It's free to think and dream and design and plan. The more you educate yourself the better you will be prepared to jump on a great deal that's exactly what you want and perfect for your situation.

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #23 on: May 20, 2012, 02:20:46 PM »
Diane, I agree with what you said.  Tile can look dated.  18"x18" is much more attractive, and a diagonal install is beautiful.  Also - you have to be able to take your time and lay a straight line.  If not, it looks terrible.  My favorite is saltillo tile, which I put in my last house.  I will probably go for porcelain from now on though, b/c it is so durable, and easier to install.   I live in Albuquerque, and saltillo is as close to timeless and neutral as you are going to get, here at least.  I like colors that look like  earth (brown dirt, red dirt, stone colors.)  They hide dirt better, and (this is just an opinion) make sense to our subconscious brain.   The worst color (IMO) is white.  Haven't got time for the pain.
Heidi

bdub

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #24 on: May 20, 2012, 09:04:57 PM »
Another option is vinyl tiles.  They lay like normal tile except they have adhesive backing so no mortar.  You then grout the lines like a ceramic or porcelain tile.  I have never priced it out but it does look nice (almost like real tile).

BenDarDunDat

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #25 on: May 21, 2012, 12:26:03 PM »
Another option is vinyl tiles.  They lay like normal tile except they have adhesive backing so no mortar.  You then grout the lines like a ceramic or porcelain tile.  I have never priced it out but it does look nice (almost like real tile).

We used these tiles in our house.  Worked awesome when using sanded grout, but not so great for non-sanded grout.

Norman Johnson

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #26 on: May 21, 2012, 12:58:51 PM »
We are going to go to a flooring store to see what they have and hopefully be installing it by next weekend. I am really appreciating all the comments!

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #27 on: May 27, 2012, 05:54:24 PM »
Lots of good stuff here.

When I was re-doing the flooring of our rental duplex I bit the bullet and laid tile in the bathrooms and kitchen. The upfront costs were higher because of the tile saw and miscelaneous hand tools, but tile lasts much longer, and every single renter/prospect has commented on it. I wouldn't worry about it going out of style (vinyl or laminate can go out of style too, and will wear more quickly); just pick something classic looking and you'll be good to go for decades. Diagonal is nice, I don't think it will cost you more if you are doing it yourself, but will take more time.

Don't be afraid to learn tile work; don't buy the cheapest tools, and do make sure your under-flooring is in proper repair regardless of what you choose.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2012, 05:57:54 PM by PlantingOurPennies »

Dicey

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Re: New flooring help
« Reply #28 on: May 27, 2012, 11:50:41 PM »
To expand a bit more on the diagonal tile "angle": It's not the only option by any means. You can railroad set them for a fresh look or create custom-looking patterns by using a combination of tile sizes. My point is that not only are off-balanced floors hard on the eye, they are also a dead giveaway that they were either installed by an inexperienced homeowner or a lazy contractor, both of which are red flags. If you are patient, precisely detail oriented, with excellent planning skills, laying tile can be a rewarding project with beautiful and long-lasting results. If this is not you, you may be wise to choose another option.
Also, POP makes an excellent point: sub-floor prep is crucial to a successful outcome.