Sunday, April 15, 2007

Floor me

Tristan took the day off on Friday just so we could start installing the flooring.

You might not know this, but I'm usually filled with angst everytime we begin a new DIY project. Mostly around "How the ?#*%! do we do this?" I usually do a lot of research and read lots of sources (Internet, library books, manufacturer's instructions), but I'm still very anxious, worrying about the details.

With the flooring, gads what a worry list:
- How do we get the flooring under the bake center cabinet?
- How do we get the flooring underneath the fireplace stone surround?
- Will it fit underneath all the door casings?
- Where should we start the first board, since that pretty much determines the rest of the floor?
- Should we have gotten a more premium underlayment?
- Did I order enough flooring?
And so on.

So...we actually started Thurs night, prepping the subfloor; filling in holes and craters with self-leveling compound and smoothing out humps of drywall mud with a spackling knife and wonder bar. Then vacuuming and getting the subfloor as clean as we could.

The next morning, we were ready to roll out the underlayment. The Kahrs Combo underlayment is basically two pieces of plastic with tiny little styrofoam beads sandwiched in between. It's supposed to protect the wood flooring from moisture that might come thru the concrete subfloor, plus it provides a bit of padding underfoot. It's only 1/8" thick and looks VERY wimpy.

I considered buying other underlayments that were supposedly better (more cushy, better sound absorption), but some of them did not come with a built in moisture barrier, so we would have to first put down a sheet of 6mil plastic, then the underlayment and then the wood flooring. That extra step laying down plastic was a put off. As it turned out, the Kahrs Combo is fine; it actually works despite its deceiving looks.

Because our appliances are being delivered on Wednesday, we needed to get the kitchen/Great Room floored asap. So that's where we started. Unfortunately, it's also the most complicated room with all of the cabinets, island, fireplace, sliding patio door and various doorways that open onto the space.

The underlayment was fairly easy and straightforward. We rolled out 40" wide lengths, butting the sides, then joined them together using Kahrs built-in taping system. We only rolled out 1/3 of the room, then decided to start laying the actual floor boards.

According to the instructions, you cannot rip any board narrower than 3" in width. Therefore, before laying down the first board, we had to calculate how many courses of planks would be needed to go across the room (subtracting 3/4" to account for expansion gaps on each side), divide by the width of a full board (7 7/8"), then make sure the remainder was more that 3".
But because our Great Room isn't just one big rectangle, we had to account for up to 10 different "obstructions" that would require us to rip boards. Aaack, it made my head hurt.

Here's our first board!! The blue stuff is the underlayment. We started at the doorway between the laundry/mudroom and the Great Room. I'm still not 100% sure we won't have any boards less that 3" in width.

Here's four or five boards installed:

We had to cut around the corners of the wall and cabinet.

And now we've got an entire course running down one side of the room:

At the end of one day, we had installed one box which equals 30 sq ft. We bought 45 boxes. You can do the math, but suffice to say, I was feeling pretty disheartened.

The next day, Saturday, we were back at it. This time we put in 5 boxes worth. We were getting over the learning curve, plus we had moved away from the walls and out towards the middle of the room, which meant a lot fewer cuts, which meant a lot faster installation.

We even managed to install enough flooring under the bake center cabinet so we could remove the temporary brace:

and install the farmhouse leg:

I feel better about our progress, but more importantly, I have a lot more confidence we can handle the curve balls.

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