Monday, June 14, 2010

DIY Laminate Part I

So it is summertime. That means it is time to start with all the pet projects that have been sitting on your to do list. For me, one of those projects was installing laminate flooring in the basement. When we first moved into our house, the basement was finished, which we had felt was a bonus. But as the years went by, two things became apparent that made the basement an undesirable place to hang out. First, it turns out that the basement was finished using cheap carpet. There was essentially no padding and was impossible to clean. Second, we set up the cats’ litter boxes in the basement. So over time litter got everywhere and was impossible to vacuum up because the carpet just hung on to it.

So we decided to rip out the carpet and put in laminate flooring. After all, this was the basement. Real hardwood was overkill. And having the flooring installed by a third party essentially doubled the overall cost. What follows is my account of the process. This is part one.

The first thing we had to do was clear the basement. This was just plain tedious. Because the basement had become unappealing, it had become a very large storage space. So the first step was the purge or move everything in the basement. We moved a lot of things towards the back of the basement and into the crawl space. The rest was carried out to the curb for the trashmen. One of these pieces was a weight machine that was in the basement when we moved in. Needless to say I had to unscrew multiple rusted screws. There are still free disc weights that sit next to the furnace. There was also an armoire that weighs about 400 lbs. Without the television inside it. It was not easy to move, until I got the moving discs that used to be advertised on the television.

Now that the floors were cleared for most of the basement, we began to tear up the carpet. It was glued down in a few places, but otherwise it was easy to remove, since it was held only by tack strips along the walls. Then the underlayment just needed to be rolled up since nothing was holding that down. Now this was the basement, but once we peeled up the carpet and underlayment we noticed that there was no moisture barrier layer. Our first indication that whoever finished the basement did not do it correctly. Once the carpet is gone, I tool a pry bar and pried up the tack strips, which were nailed into the cement. Prying up the tack strips does not take out the nails that nailed down the strips. Fortunately, I had an old plastic litter container in which to put the broken pieces of tack strips. (Fresh Step no longer used plastic containers for their litter—it is all eco-friendly cardboard boxing now)

One the tack strips are gone, you are left with all the nails that held down the strips. How you even nail something into cement boggles me, since removing the nails chips the cement. At first I simply used the pry bar and leaned on it more progressively more force until there was a pop and the nail came out of the cement. The problem with this method is that nail flies out of the cement and you are left with a rather large divot in the cement floor. I used this method for three walls before stopping for the sake of my face. After some research on the internet, I found a method of hitting the nails side to side with a hammer to loosen them and then prying them out with ease. There was less flying debris this way. Unfortunately, this technique still left small divots where the nails once resided, but with no major alteration to the grade of the floor.

Next week: Planning the installation.