When we began browsing for floors, we first looked at samples of wood laminate flooring from Home Depot and Lumber Liquidators. Then, one day I discovered the wonderful attributes of cork flooring, including their durability, noise absorption, and environmentally friendliness. After doing some internet searches I narrowed all the cork flooring options down to my favorite: Lisbon Cork in Rossio from Lumber Liquidators. This was the least expensive option, and I loved the walnut like color
There were two problems with installing cork flooring. First, it would be installed directly against our wood stairs and the grains would be very different. Second, cork flooring might not be as effective as wood laminate for resale since it is more of a personal preference and not always loved by all.
When searching for our laminate of choice, we looked through tons of laminate flooring samples, and read reviews on how the flooring held up to crazy dogs with irresponsibly long nails. We settled on our favorite laminate which was Highland Hickory from Home Depot.
We were on the fences between the two options, but ended up settling on the Highland Hickory laminate. The choice was based mostly on ease of resale, since we won't be living in this house forever. So I let go of my endless love of the cork flooring and we bought ourselves 27 boxes of Highland Hickory which is conveniently carried in stock at Home Depot.
The Highland Hickory actually measured in at 10mm thickness which was 2mm higher than we were told we could install next to our weird railing wood, but what's 2 extra millimeters right? We would have to install transition pieces next to the railing anyway, so we figured that would take care of any height discrepancies. Well, we were hoping anyway.
After buying the flooring we first let it acclimate in our house for 48 hours. After that our patience were drained and Titus started the installation. He started in the dining room due to its rectangular shape making cuts and install easier and, therefore, allowing him to get the hang of the installation process before moving to the crazy cut areas.
The laminate is click and lock style so you just insert the one plank into the plank already in place at a 45 degree angle and press down. I personally never installed a single plank, but it looked pretty easy. Titus said it wasn't too bad once he got the hang of it. Sometimes the planks wouldn't click fully together and he would use put the block that came in the installation kit next to the plank and hit the block with a hammer which pushed the plank in place. Hopefully you followed that.
When he got to planks where he didn't have enough room to use the block-hit-with-hammer method he used the other tool that came in the installation kit, which was a metal piece the hooked onto the side of the plank that needed to be hit into place, and he could hit the other end of the metal piece. Also, hard to explain so I tried to get a picture:
See how the wall is in the way of him being able to directly hit a block on the other side of that plank? This little extender gives him more hammer swinging room to hit that plank in place.
The worst part of the process was when Titus got to the back of the kitchen. This is where the fridge becomes a nightmare. We needed to run the flooring under the fridge, which meant we had to move it out of the way. However, since the flooring all clicks together, Titus had to install the flooring all they way up to the fridge before he could click the under fridge flooring in.
In addition to moving the fridge out from its cabinet cubby, because the flooring runs perpendicular to the window wall, as you can see above, we had to move the fridge completely on the other back side of the island, so the flooring could run lengthwise under the fridge. This is scary for multiple reasons. First, we really didn't want to scratch our brand new flooring and fridges are super heavy and have lame wheels so this seemed super likely. Also, the fridge would have to be lifted over an already installed plank which could break off the groove and ruin that plank.
After praying for the health of our already installed floor parts, we rolled the fridge straight out from its cubby all the way to the pantry. We then loaded it onto our dolly to move sideways behind the island. The wheels on a fridge only go in one direction (forward and back) so we had to use the dolly to move it sideways. We put cardboard down on the floor behind the island to help protect our new beautiful floor while the fridge lived on it.
This inadvertently took care of my food cravings by blocking off our entire food source until the flooring was finished in the kitchen.
After Titus had installed the rest of the flooring in this area, he caulked along the perimeter of the flooring on which the fridge sits. He did this because we have a water line running into the fridge and the edge of the flooring is where the water is able to get in.
Now that the kitchen flooring was complete, we had to move the fridge back. To do this, we put down as much cardboard as we could on the path the fridge would travel.
This was probably overkill since the fridge has wheels, but we were scared and didn't want to have to redo the flooring. After much struggle to get that beast back in place it all worked out and we got no scratches, dents, or other terrible disasters.
For all the cuts that Titus made, he either used our chop saw, our table saw, or a jig saw. The table saw was used for all the lengthwise (ripping) cuts of the planks like along the back of the peninsula. For some reason it didn't occur to me how often he would have to use the table saw, but it was obviously needed for anything that ran parallel to the floor like the peninsula, island, stair railing, and walls. The chop saw was used for all the regular end cuts, and the jigsaw was used for super weird cuts like around the railing and door jams. I know people who have installed laminate without having a table or chop saw, but Titus was certainly thankful that we had them.
After one full weekend of work and one full week after work, Titus has almost completed the floor. Look he's doing the second to last plank!
I know, you want a before and after right? Too bad. You have to wait one more post for it. The good news is, in that post you will see the kitchen with cabinet doors AND the new flooring!