With recent technological advances, laminate flooring is more durable and attractive than ever. There’s no wonder, then, that laminate is such a popular choice for flooring upgrades these days.
As you’ll see, the DIY installation was pretty easy, and the end results are gorgeous.
New Generation Laminate Flooring
In that fleeting moment of being carried over the threshold just two days after our wedding, I couldn’t have predicted that our once-cream carpeting would become a trampled shade of brown. In the last fourteen years, we’ve celebrated and welcomed our three children and a dog into this house, and all of the spills, sicknesses, and stains that come with them!
No matter how many times we’ve steam cleaned, shampooed, or spot treated our carpeting, the dust and dirt always made me feel like our home lacked a freshness I want, especially in our bedroom areas. We explored our options: another round carpeting was off the table for me. We considered hardwood like our first floor, however, hardwood is not only costly but messy and laborious to install.
We looked at engineered and laminate flooring, and I was so happy to find a lot of variety in the color, texture, and cost of options available. My mental image of laminate flooring was something akin to a plastic-looking, lightweight self-stick of my parent’s generation.
What I discovered in today’s laminate flooring was the look and feel of many of the hand-scraped, click-and-lock systems. Looking through the selection of flooring at The Home Depot, I found the Pergo Outlast+ line.
I took home a sample to compare with our hardwood floor. Not only does the Pergo Outlast+ have a depth of color and subtle changes in grain that you’d appreciate in a piece of real wood, it’s durable enough to withstand pet spills, kid projects, and over-watered plants. Sign me up.
Installing the Laminate Flooring
The installation guide I found online encouraged me to give installation a try. I’m a graphic designer, and I love a good interior DIY project so why not?
Thankfully, I also have a very enthusiastic husband who was willing to be the lead on the project, too. And by the end of the entire second floor install, this project became a whole family activity–each of my children specializing in a new skill–the carpet remover, the baseboard labeler, the trash guy, the silicone holder.
Prepping the Floors
We started by bringing the cartons inside, as close to their eventual home as we could, to adjust to the temperature and moisture of the area.
The instructions suggested we store them for at least two full days. We were weekend workers for most of the project so this wasn’t an issue for us.
Our team prepped the floors in the interim. Using a wide putty knife and a miracle bar, my husband cracked the paint seal and took off all of our baseboards. Next we removed all of our carpeting, tack boards, and then used a screwdriver to pop out all of the staples.
Laying the Laminate
Beginning at the doorways, we undercut door mouldings. We worked into the room laying the boards left to right, with the tongue side pointing towards the interior of the room.
To secure the boards to one another, we angled the long-side of the board into the groove of the next plank and rotated the piece downward.
Using a rubber mallet and tapping block, we hit the block into place. We redid the same process with the short end of the pieces to make sure that the pieces locked side by side.
Of all the steps in the process, we were most challenged by this one! It took a few tries to tap everything in place and keep the boards secure. Once we mastered the technique, the whole process went more smoothly.
At the end of the each row, when we could not use a tapping block, we used a pull bar to engage the last plank. My husband discovered that using a scrap piece of laminate underneath the pull bar ensured that underlying boards would not be damaged in the installation.
The patterning of the cuts became a puzzle to solve. We staggered the end joints with each row. In order to keep a stable floor, we made sure that we didn’t have any pieces smaller than eight inches on the end of a row.
Around the edges of the room to seal off the room, we added a foam backer rod. Once that was pushed into place, we applied a silicone sealant and reattached the baseboards. At all of the transition points, like doorways, we used a matching T-molding and silicone to keep the highly-trafficked spot in place.
Doing this process ourselves gave me (and my kids!) a whole new appreciation for construction and hard work. A big thank you to our team captain, my husband, for his work and good humor.
Our final flooring feels and looks natural in our space. The dark, solid surface is a great foundation for the patterned rugs we have in each space. It coordinates well with our master bedroom shag rug, my daughter’s monochromatic, geometric version, and my son’s Madras plaid all at the same time!
And (I might be a little weird on this one) I like being able to see our spills and dirt and wipe them up quickly and easily. I don’t worry about watering the philodendron in the master bedroom or having our dog enjoy the second floor, too. These floors can handle spills and drops!