Installing Hardwood Floor

Kind of a busy two weeks … Ginny and I were on vacation.   Because of the cost of our last vacation (England & Ireland), we decided to make this a “Staycation” … basically stayed home and didn’t go anywhere big.

One of the things we wanted to was finish the floor in the smallest bedroom.   This was a project we started about 6 years ago … we had these grand ideas of turning it into a reading room, with a hardwood floor, a nice comfy chair, plenty of book shelves, etc.

Well, the project started out fine … but ended up completely stalled due to problems with the flooring material we chose.

I wasn’t too keen on the idea of a complex floor installation, so we went with a “Pre-Glued” engineered wood floor product from Harris Tarket / Vanguard called “Tap Tight”.   Well, the “Tap Tight” was more like “Pound Loose”.   The pre-glued aspect was quite attractive, as we wouldn’t have to mess with gluing the boards.   Unfortunately, this also meant that we had absolutely no ability to dry fit the boards when we were putting them together.   If we miscalculated, we were stuck (literally).   They wouldn’t come apart again to be reset.

Well, the floor project languished for a number of years … but we decided to get the floor finally done.   Since the floor planks we had left were so old, I was worried that they wouldn’t work anymore.   Plus, because we have to hit the boards so hard, once we got to the last row of boards, there isn’t any room to swing a hammer to get the tongue and grove to mate.

We decided to pull out the old floor and go with something else … something that wasn’t pre-glued.   We thought about what kind of floor we wanted and decided to go with a bamboo floor.   Again, it’s engineered wood, so it can be installed without nails.   A few weeks ago we went to Lowes and ordered the product.   It wasn’t too expensive.

About a week later the flooring material arrived at the store … we picked it up and brought it home.   I opened a box looking for instructions on the best way to install the floor, but found nothing.   The boxes contained just the flooring and nothing else.   There wasn’t even an indication of the manufacturer (Except a “Made in China” stamp on the side of the box).   Both Ginny and I started searching the web to find information on installing it … and then our hearts sunk.   Every indication about this flooring product (“US Flooring”, maybe) indicated that it was shoddy material and to be avoided at all costs.   Suffice it to say that we took the flooring back to Lowes and returned it.

Not ready to admit defeat yet … we went BACK to Lowes and looked at the other flooring they had.   This time we wanted to go with a name brand.   After looking at the products, we decided to go with “Bruce” (a division of Armstrong).   That’s a brand I’ve seen before.   Ginny still didn’t want to deal with Glue, so we went with their “Fold & Lock” system.   Basically, the tongue & groove are engineered in a way that they snap together.   They do not, however, snap permanently … so we’ll have the ability to dry fit.   As an added benefit, Lowes had the product in stock.   A quick search through an open box showed that the boxes included instructions too.   We also purchased MDF base molding and quarter round to cover the gaps around the perimeter of the room.

We pulled up the old floor and threw it away (thankfully the garbage service took it all away).   We started to lay the new floor.   It went pretty smooth.   As with most projects, there were a few glitches …

  • The circular and saber saws I borrowed from my dad wasn’t going to cut it (pardon the pun).   They were too slow and way too big.   I went to Sears and bought a 10″ power miter saw.   After I took the saw out of the box and started to set it up, I realized that it wasn’t really going to be flexible enough to do the job.   So I returned the saw and purchased the same model that included a slider, so I could cut larger planks.
  • One area of the floor needed to fit under some existing molding (around the door) … the instructions addressed this … but it said shave the lip off the leading board and use “the recommended glue” to attach the trailing board in.   Unfortunately they never mention what the recommended glue is.   We called Bruce and asked.   They told us a specific glue to use (Bruce product, of course).   We headed over to Lowes, but they didn’t carry the glue.   Across the street was Home Depot, but they didn’t carry it either.   They could order it for us … but it would take about a week to arrive.   Ginny did some calling around to various flooring stores and we found one that didn’t have it in stock, but could order it from their supplier (who was located in Elk Grove Village) and we could pick it up that day.
  • Even though we measured the floor pretty carefully, we ended up being a little short on the material.   We needed one last rank of boards … 12 feet long … but only 1 1/2 inches wide.   This meant we had to buy a whole new box of planks.

After all this work … we also decided to paint the room again … the original paint job, done 6 years ago, was kind of weak … so Ginny decided to repaint with a different color.   I’m absolutely no good with painting, so I left that to Ginny.   I was in charge of the power tools, so I did all the cutting (ruh ruh ruh ruh 😉 ).   I cut the base molding and all the floor planks.   Everything does (or will) fit nicely.   Not a bad job, if I do say so myself.

As of today, we need to finish some touch up painting; install the base molding; install the quarter round; and install the carpet transition.

I’m a little worried about the transition though … its going to require that I cut the carpet so it will fit correctly … and I don’t want to botch the job.   This project has already cost more than I hoped it would … and I don’t want to add to the cost by having to replace carpet.

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