Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Office Make-over - Floor Edition: An Awesome Flooring Solution to Replace your Old, Worn Out Carpet

Hello! Dave here - I'd like to share a little about a very recent DIY project we just completed to replace the floor in Colette's art room/office. Maybe it'll inspire you to replace your own floor!

This is Colette's art room/office today:

And this is how it looked before we bought our house:

As you can see we've made a lot of changes to the room, but I want to focus here on the flooring change which I recently completed because the ancient berber carpet in the room had gotten irritatingly frayed and worn. The carpet actually starting shedding a while back. This is NOT acceptable.  So I was determined to make sure my beautiful and amazingly talented Artiste would be comfortable and free to create in her work space--not itching and scratching which I'm pretty sure must stifle creativity!

The "wood" flooring I installed to accomplish my goal (in the "after" picture above) is actually a vinyl flooring product from Home Depot called Allure trafficMASTER. I discovered this great flooring option a couple years ago while remodeling the kids' upstairs bathroom. Allure trafficMASTER is an economical flooring product that looks terrific and is also really easy to install.

A couple more before and after shots:

A few more words about the flooring product itself, then I'll briefly walk through the installation process. Allure trafficMASTER comes in 2 primary grades - Allure and Allure Ultra. The Allure Ultra grade is a little more expensive but is completely waterproof, while the Allure version is less expensive (about $1.79 a square foot) but is also a little less waterproof. Allure comes in 6" x 36" planks, while the Allure Ultra planks are a little wider and longer. Both versions result in a very professional looking "wood-like" finish when installed.

Both grades come in a large selection of colors, basically all sorts of wood shades running from very light to very dark and everything in between. You can see the selection on display in the flooring section of your local Home Depot store, and the selections are also available for viewing online.

I went with the Allure Ultra grade for the bathroom, in order to get the full waterproofing benefit, and used the base Allure version (in the Blonde Maple shade) for Colette's art room.

As far as how to install Allure flooring, it's a pretty simple process. There is a slight difference in how the 2 different grades of Allure flooring are installed, but they both go down pretty much the same way. The Allure version has a strong adhesive on 2 sides of each plank, and when you lay each plank in place you simply press down firmly on the 2 adhesive sides to ensure a strong bond.

Allure Ultra, by contrast, does not utilize any adhesive. Instead, each plank is constructed with interlocking tongue-and-groove edges that you connect with each adjacent plank of flooring to ensure a very tight, interlocking bond between each piece.

The first step was to get rid of the old carpet. This was a pretty straightforward process. I moved all the stuff from one half of the room to the other half, and then using razor-blade utility knife I scored a deep cut in the carpet right down the middle of the room, from one end of the room all the way to the other. I then just started ripping up the old carpet, being careful to pull it free of all the carpet nails and staples that were used to fasten it to the floor. Once you get a corner started, the whole thing comes up pretty easily.

With the carpet now free from the floor, I was able to roll it up and haul it out to the trash.

Next I essentially repeated the exact same process to pull up the carpet padding that was installed as a base layer underneath the carpet. So again, I used the knife to cut down the middle of the room, along the same line I cut the carpet layer. Then I pulled the padding free of all the nails and staples holding it, and just rolled it up and hauled it out to the trash.

And here's the end result of all this. (Note: the small legs on the right belong to one of my excellent helpers, our very own Princess Chloƫ who started out very strong on the job but then quickly retreated for more "girly" endeavors.)

After you've removed your carpet and padding, you should be down to whatever the sub-floor layer is, and hopefully you find that it doesn't require too much prep work before you can start installing your new floor. In our case, the floor beneath the art room's carpet and padding was a typical plywood sub-floor, since it's a second story room right over the garage. Note, however, that if you're working with a first story room (and it's not over a basement or garage) you may find cement slab beneath the carpet. It doesn't really matter what the sub-flooring is, though, because to install the new Allure plank flooring the only real prerequisite is that whatever sub-floor material you're dealing with just needs to be completely clean and free of debris, so that you're left with a clean, even surface upon which you can start laying down your new flooring. So you need to make sure you remove or repair all nails, staples, or anything else that makes the floor uneven, bumpy or jagged.

For our project, we thankfully found the sub-flooring to be in good shape and it was a simple process for me (and my helpers!) to pull all the remaining nails and staples from the floor (using pliers), and to also remove the narrow wood carpet strip from around the perimeter of the floor (using a nail puller and hammer).

A few shots of this part of the process, featuring Princess ChloĆ« (in her last official task of helping before the job lost its charm) and our 14-year old Mitch who was a huge help and hard worker throughout the project (thanks so much Mitch!!)

I was happy to find this part of the project much easier than what I ran into when replacing the bathroom floor a couple years before....that project involved removing several layers of tile flooring (and an old nasty toilet, which is always fun to mess with) to finally get down to the plywood sub-flooring only to find it in need of much replacing, repairing, and decontaminating in several places that were rotted and moldy. Needless to say, compared to that simply pulling a bunch of nails and staples this time around was a very welcome task!

Once we'd finished all this I did a thorough vacuuming with the shop vac and we were finally ready to start laying down the Allure flooring.

Voila! Ready to put down the new floor!
As far as the actual installation process goes, there are a lot of good videos readily available online that show you how to work with and install the Allure planks. There are a few tricks you need to learn--for example how to measure cut the pieces, how to properly connect them together, how to install around obstructions, etc. But it really is very easy and doesn't take long to get the hang of it. You can actually get everything you need to know to get started by spending about 10-15 minutes watching a couple of installation "how-to" videos. Here are a couple pretty good ones I found - there are many more...

Video: Installing Allure Flooring

Video: Installing Allure Ultra Flooring

Because of the way the Allure interlocking strips are designed, you should always lay this flooring down from left to right. Aesthetically, because Colette's art room is a rectangular shape, I wanted the planks to run long ways down the length of the room rather than sideways across the narrower span of the room (which would have looked really weird). So with that orientation as my guide, I started in the "upper left" corner of the room (see first picture below) and began laying down each interconnecting piece moving left to right to ensure the interlocking tongue-and groove edges connected together properly.

I should note that it's really important to take your time and make sure your first couple of rows are installed nice and tight together, and to ensure that you lay them down very straight and square with the edges of the room. If you start out straight and square, everything will end up straight and square and look great. But if things get off track or crooked in your first couple of rows, the whole floor will end up off track and crooked.

Almost done with the first half of the room - Let's go Mitch!
Another important installation point has to do with the pattern you should follow when laying out each subsequent row of flooring. You do not want to line up your seams from one row to the next, you instead want the seams from one row of flooring to the next to be staggered, intentionally not lining them up, which will result in a very professional and finished wood-floor look when you're finished.

Accomplish this look is easy. All you need to do is make sure you start each new row (again, going left to right) with a different sized plank so that the seams from one row to the next are staggered and don't line up with or near one another. It's also not necessary to be exact in how long each starting piece is from one row to the next. You really can just eyeball it and make your cuts accordingly.

Generally speaking, you should start about each 4th or 5th row with a full-length plank, with the rows in between each starting with smaller planks following a set pattern (apprx. 3/4 of a plank long, then 1/2 plank long, and 1/4 plank long). Again, it's not necessary to be exact in measuring your starting plank lengths - all you're really doing is eyeballing it to vary the sizes of each starting plank so that the seams end up staggered in an alternating pattern. It actually looks a lot more natural if the lengths are not exact and there is some natural variation in them.

That's really about it. The key is to make sure you use a lot of elbow grease and install each plank very tightly against the planks it buts up against. If you do that for each and every piece you lay down, the floor will look grat when it's done!

So, after finishing the first half of the room, Mitch and I moved all the stuff over to the newly finished side to expose the remaining carpeting on the other side of the room.

Then we basically just repeated the same process we'd followed for the first half to remove all the old carpeting and padding and prepare the sub-floor.

From there it was just a matter of continuing where we left off to lay down the remaining rows of flooring until we reached the far wall of the room. The final row required some length-wise trimming of the planks to make them all the right width, and also some cut-outs were needed to go around a few places of molding and woodworking along that far wall.

After laying down the final rows of planks it was time to clean up and enjoy the fruits of our labors! Enjoy your new floor, my love!