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Starting Flooring ...

July 18, 2013 |

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We are DIYing our moms a Duplex in Alaska! Check out our progress so far as we owner build a home, step by step. Read the Momplex blog here.

posted by Ana White

The weather has still been too darn hot for us Alaskans to work on a deck in the heat (yes, for us, heat is anything above 80 degrees - pathetic, I know), so our decking project is going to wait for another day.

Inside the Momplex, it's nice a cool. When we choose to build with ARXX blocks (Insulated Concrete Forms that are basically hollow legos that you stack and fill with concrete) the main reason was energy efficiency and preventing heat loss.

Ironic how we are enjoying how cool the Momplex is staying due to the energy efficient walls keeping the heat out!

We've decided to work on one Momplex unit at a time, so we can focus on making the best decisions per each Mom in the finishing stages.

Starting Flooring ...

Sewing Mom loves her new railing so much, she's already rethinking her living room configuration to avoid placing a couch in front of it!

We love the railing too - it's simple and sturdy - and are so glad you like it too!

And while we took the railing on first as a safety measure, not having a railing up was also holding up everything else. We needed the railing in place before we could start laying flooring.

With the railing up, it's time to put a finished floor inside Momplex: Unit Cooking Mom!

Today, we are installing flooring! I can hardly believe it myself!

Starting Flooring ...

We started thinking about what type of flooring to put inside the Momplex months and months ago. There is a pretty tall order it has to meet:

1. Durable - the theme of the Momplex is to "do it once, do it right". We don't want to spend the rest of our lives replacing or fixing things at the Momplex. So every decision we've made, first and foremost, we consider how long it will last. That's why the Momplex is sided with metal and the exterior walls are concrete. Whatever flooring we choose, must be something that is extremely durable.

2. Low Maintenance - Our Moms are still young and very able, but thinking 10 or 20 years down the road, we want the Momplex to be very easy to clean. Cleaning floors is a daily task, so whatever flooring we choose, must be something very easy to clean.

3. Soft - We have tile in our kitchen that is very durable, but both Mom's have complained about their backs hurting after hours of standing on it. Tile is out.

4. Seamless - To make the floors easy to clean, we are going to do everything possible to install the upstairs floor completely seamless, so Mom can sweep the entire floor all at once.

5. Less than 1/2" thick - After adding in the radiant heat flooring on top of the subfloor, we lost about 3/4" of space, leaving just 1/2" of space underneath the deck door. Whatever flooring we choose, must be less than 1/2" thick.

6. Works with Radiant Heat - And of course, the flooring must work with a radiant heat system - carpet is out.

7. Waterproof - Since the flooring is seamless, covering bathroom and kitchen floors, we also need a floor that is waterproof.

So what flooring can do all this?

Starting Flooring ...

We choose Vinyl Plank flooring. This flooring to be exact.

This is the first time we've installed Vinyl Plank flooring, although we've installed laminate wood flooring several times before.

Starting Flooring ...

Like laminate wood flooring, the vinyl plank flooring needs an expansion gap around all sides of 5/16" (this can differ depending on flooring). So we cut a bunch of wood strips 5/16" thick on the tablesaw.

Starting Flooring ...

And then we just started laying the flooring down. We've done some preliminary measurements, but at this point, it's difficult to tell how the flooring will come out.

The first row snaps in just like the box says. Quick and easy.

Starting Flooring ...

The wood spacers keep the flooring 5/16" off the walls.

Starting Flooring ...

When we get to the end of the first row, we have to cut our first piece of flooring. The instructions say to just score and snap the flooring to cut. Sounds too easy, doens't it?

We use a utility knife and a speed square to score the vinyl planks, scoring on the face of the flooring

Starting Flooring ...

And start to bend it

Starting Flooring ...

And she snaps, just like the box says.

Starting Flooring ...

At this point, we are thinking, man, this flooring really is as easy to install as the box says it is!!!

We'll have it done in a few hours!!!

Starting Flooring ...

The last piece in the first row snaps into place

Starting Flooring ...

And we've got the first row done in mere minutes.

Well, I wish I could tell you that the next row went just as fast and as easy ....

But after the first row, where just one edge is snapped into place, things got tough.

On every row after the second, you have to interlock with both the previous row and the previous plank. And unlike wood, the vinyl is softer and bends, so getting the grooves to interlock is a Pain. In. The. Behind.

Starting Flooring ...

After hours of battling each joint, our hands aching from pounding on the edges, trying to get the joints in just right, we made it halfway across the living room.

Starting Flooring ...

While the joints are much more difficult than laminate, cutting is much easier.

So that did save us some time. And it is very handy to be able to cut right there where you are working, without creating sawdust.

By the end of that first day, we were so relieved to make it to our goal - the entire living room floored.

Starting Flooring ...

Until we noticed that the flooring planks would end up putting us in a very bad position.

All the way down the hall, we'd have a 1/2" wide strip of flooring ripped, a piece that would most definitely come up over time. The instructions require no less than 2" wide strips. And we'd have the same issue on the other side of the hall ...

After a long day of flooring, aching hands, backs and knees, we decided we'd deal with it in the morning. Because right now, we certainly aren't in the spirits to rip appart hundreds of hard earned joints and start all over again.

So we called it a day ....

Went home wondering if we'd bought the right type of flooring after all ...

What to do??? Not really sure ourselves at this point.

To be continued.

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KGohmertPrichard's picture

I would love to see what you

I would love to see what you do with the flooring on your stairs. We desperately need to replace the flooring in our home but our stairs are a conundrum. How do we flow hardwood to them?

posted by KGohmertPrichard | on Thu, 2013-07-18 14:42
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Pam the Goatherd's picture

Aren't your stairs made of

Aren't your stairs made of wood? You just stain the steps to match the hardwood flooring. No need to flow the hardwood flooring onto the stairs.

posted by Pam the Goatherd | on Sun, 2013-07-21 20:21
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KGohmertPrichard's picture

Stair staining

I have not taken the carpet off my stairs yet. I do not know the quality of the wood beneath them.

posted by KGohmertPrichard | on Mon, 2013-07-22 11:32
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Pam the Goatherd's picture

If the wood is bad underneath

If the wood is bad underneath the carpet then you'll just replace the treads with new wood, which you can stain to match your flooring. Hopefully the wood will be in good shape underneath the carpet and the most you'll have to do is clean them and refinish. There are lots of tutorials on-line that show how to do it.

posted by Pam the Goatherd | on Mon, 2013-07-22 13:50
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KGohmertPrichard's picture

flooring and stairs

But what about matching that top step to the upstairs flooring?

posted by KGohmertPrichard | on Mon, 2013-07-22 13:55
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Pam the Goatherd's picture

Are you talking about the

Are you talking about the landing or the last step in the stairs? The landing at the top should be covered with your flooring. The last step of the stairs should be the same as all the others.

posted by Pam the Goatherd | on Tue, 2013-07-23 11:13
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KGohmertPrichard's picture

Landing

Yes, the landing. How do you cover the landing to match the floor? Mine has a curve to the edge of it.

posted by KGohmertPrichard | on Tue, 2013-07-23 14:16

flooring

If you are going to put baseboard and then shoe molding, how does that work in the hallway, would it help compensate for that?

On the next unit I would start however many inches off the first wall.

Unfortunate that this happened. I however, could not live with the problem, I would take it all apart and start so the problem would not bother me every time I looked at it for the next 20 or 30 years.

eledyce

posted by eledyce | on Thu, 2013-07-18 15:09
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birdsandsoap's picture

It looks beautiful and so

It looks beautiful and so real! I'm curious how it holds up. I am amazed at the laminate flooring we installed nearly ten years ago in one room of our home. It still looks new. But, waterproof? I like that you can take yours into the bathroom. I will take note how it holds up for our future house. Please God, let it come sooner than later!

I also solved your dilemma- All you have to do is, take apart the entire living room you just installed and scoot the floor forward so it is even to the hall (this is where you punch me in the face for saying that). I feel for you. DIYing is never as glamorous as it seems!

posted by birdsandsoap | on Thu, 2013-07-18 15:12
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tracysmith's picture

My mom installed this brand

My mom installed this brand of flooring in her new master bath, but the look was like tile so the planks were much wider. One thing that you might have difficulty as she did was when you make a mistake and you have to pull the planks apart, they can break. I'm assuming that yours has an adhesive as hers did to bond the planks together. She too had difficulty with getting the seams to match up and in some places in her bath, they still don't. BUT, it looks soooo beautiful, and you don't really notice the seams!!

Clean up is also a breeze with this flooring! One of those wide head dust mops keeps her floors looking great and once every week she mops it with a damp sponge mop and water. That's it because her bathroom doesn't get used as much. It's just her and my step dad. No messy kids like my house!, ;-)

http://www.simply-designed.us/blog

posted by tracysmith | on Thu, 2013-07-18 15:57
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Flooring

Hi Ana! Love the flooring color, it's beautiful! We love the vinyl planks and have been redoing our floors with them a room at a time. If you keep the little strips on each side of your hall, how about a tiny bit of super glue just in the groove before you snap the tongue of the full one in place? The installation instructions say you can do that when replacing a damaged plank.. Depending on the type of baseboard and shoe you have planned, those might even cover up the little strips once they're in place. Will both Momplex units have the same flooring?

posted by JoanneS | on Thu, 2013-07-18 16:37
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yurra-bazain's picture

Traffic Master Allure vs. Traffic Master Allure Ultra

We used the Allure vinyl plank flooring to re-floor my mom's downstairs home a few years ago. Since it is a floating floor with adhesive strips to lock the joints, please do not take them apart. They may not stick again (I wasted a few boards trying this). If spacing is an issue, and since the living room looks square, you could push the floor away from the rear wall, do some measurements, and cut a 2 inch or wider strip that would be against that rear wall, changing the fact that you'd have a 1/2" strip on the other side.

If you've not purchased flooring for the other Momplex yet, and you want to keep vinyl plank flooring/resilient flooring, we used Allure Ultra for our upstairs home. It is thicker and heavier than regular Allure (still under 1/2"), it floats over your subfloor, but it doesn't use adhesive to attach. It uses vinyl tongue and grooves, which can be a little tricky, but overall, I like it much better than the regular Allure/Traffic Master resilient flooring. Allure Ultra also has a lifetime guarantee and we installed it seamlessly throughout our entire above garage apartment. Spills are not a problem, even dried paint, with a little scrubbing, comes right up. Dried wood glue peels right off and even wood filler comes up with some scrubbing. (I build and finish things in our house because it is difficult to carry bigger things through our narrow stairway.)

I video-taped myself installing part of the floor, but never published it anywhere. It's about as easy to cut as the Allure, but a bit easier to join (sans adhesive).

Hope this is helpful!

Yvonne @ sunnysideup-stairs.blogspot.com

posted by yurra-bazain | on Thu, 2013-07-18 17:38

flooring fix

I'm guessing the Ram already thought of this, but I'll throw it out there anyways. Perhaps you could pull the entire floor away from the wall the correct amount so your last row (furthest away from the wall) would be ripped greater than 2 inches in width for the first row in the hall. I bet this sounds clear as mud. Then you would need to rip a new first row the appropriate length to fill the gap, connect them all on the short side first and then on the long side (or the same way you plan to connect to the rooms that are north of the hall if you are going completely seamless and not using transition strips....opposite direction of normal install). Does this make sense? My experience with laminate flooring with tongue and groove has been that pulling it up usually damages some of the locking mechanism and required glue to reattach or simply discard the damaged pieces.

I always thought some of the draw of vinyl plank flooring was that if a plank gets damaged, you can cut it out and piece it in. How does that work when it's tongue and groove rather than glue?

posted by webb_golf | on Fri, 2013-07-19 11:37
clips

the way you write about your

the way you write about your decision-making process is always inspiring, as is the real world description of your process. i will be interested to know how you two smarties solve this dilemma. rock on.

posted by purejuice | on Fri, 2013-07-19 14:48
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Val Manchuk's picture

Flooring Dilemma

Hi Ana, your flooring looks great! As to your issue with the last board being too narrow, I agree with the idea of gluing that last strip to the one before it. Will this strip be running along a wall? If so, your baseboard will help hold it in place. We did this with our laminate flooring eleven years ago. I know the vinyl has different properties, but I think it's worth a try. Just as a side note, when we installed ours, the instructions said to bridge it at intervals to prevent buckling. Instead, we left a wider gap all around, and used a 1/8" wider baseboard to cover it. Eleven years and it's still good! Hope this helps! Val

posted by Val Manchuk | on Sat, 2013-07-20 06:33

Flooring

Have you ever tried paper flooring? I don't know how that would work with the heated floors though.

posted by Courtney P. | on Sat, 2013-07-20 12:30
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romanweel's picture

For the installation pain...

...after clicking that first easy row together, is it possible to click the next row entirely together by itself, and then click the two completed rows together all at once? Does that make sense with the way those planks work? We're wanting to use them for my mom-in-law's bathroom, but maybe not if they're such a pain!

posted by romanweel | on Sat, 2013-07-20 19:57
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Pam the Goatherd's picture

I don't know if I can

I don't know if I can describe my idea with just words, but I will try. Could you continue the flooring across the width of the hallway toward the kitchen with the strips the same length as the completed living room and then turn the strips 90 degrees to run along the railing and down the hall (the width of the hall) so you don't have to rip any pieces to fit. Then when you are finished going the width of the hallway you can turn the strips back to go the same direction as the living room for the kitchen. This would give you a little bit different look for the landing and hallway, but keep the kitchen and living room looking the same.
I hope you can visualize what I'm saying...

posted by Pam the Goatherd | on Sun, 2013-07-21 20:18
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Sorry for commenting on such an old post, but...

Where on Earth did you find that flooring?! Home Depot's website says it carries that brand, but it all seems to be special order, and I'm not sure how excited I am about waiting a minimum of 10 days to get flooring that may not even look like what's on the screen... :-( Did you have to special order it, or did you actually get to see it in the store before you bought it? If you special ordered it, how was the experience?

posted by CGCouture | on Sun, 2013-09-15 11:45

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