Friday, October 21, 2011

What a corker

After three years of waiting, we finally replaced the floors in the bedrooms. It would have been relatively cheap and easy to just buy new carpeting, but we knew that wasn't what we wanted. One of the reasons it took us so long is that we didn't want to put in more carpeting. We wanted hard surface flooring, since it's more durable, easier to keep clean, and much easier on the respiratory system. We save up for our home improvements so that we can pay cash. (OK, actually we use credit cards because we rack up major rewards points with the big ticket purchases, but we pay the monthly balance in full, so we have to have the cash before we spend.) Floors got pushed back on the priority list for a while, but this summer was finally the time.
Some of the downsides to hard floors (besides that they are usually pricier than carpeting) are that they can be cold and not very acoustically friendly, which aren't great qualities for the bedroom. Our solution to this was to install cork flooring. Thanks to its natural insulating properties, it's warmer, quieter and easier on the legs than most kinds of hard flooring. The flooring we chose was an Apollo Brown floating floor made by APC Cork. We bought it at Menards, which is a Midwestern chain similar to Home Depot or Lowes. (We have those around here, too, but we have Green in addition to Orange and Blue)
This project was pretty much all James, though I did help a bit with the underlayment. He tells me the floating floor was fairly easy to install. It seemed to go quickly and smoothly. First he took out the carpeting, by cutting it into strips with a box knife and rolling them up. Luckily there is a carpet recycler just a couple of miles from our house, so James just loaded up the carpeting and hauled it there. We had to pay $20 bucks per load, but that was well worth it to keep it out of the landfill. James took out the tack strips with a crowbar. Then we had to clean up the floors, scrape away bit of glue and drywall mud and whatnot so we'd have a smooth surface to install over.

The process after that is to put down a strip of underlayment, install the floors over it, and then move to the next strip. James used some special tools to snap the pieces together. There's no glue or anything. He used spacers along the walls to leave a small gap so there's room for the floor to expand and contract. Once the floor was all in, he covered the gap with quarter round, which we bought pre-finished. That's pretty much what I know about it. If you have questions, ask away, and if I don't know, I'll try to get James to come field them.
We love the results. We think they look great, and they are so nice and warm underfoot. We can definitely feel how they have more give than the bamboo in the main rooms. It was a pretty big project, since he installed the new floors in all three bedrooms, and it's fantastic to be done. We've been shuffling the contents of our house around for a few months now! The floors are completely in, and things are mostly back in their places finally. We've been trying to purge and organize as we go. I've taken bags of stuff to Goodwill, and my closets are starting to look pretty good.

A quick comparison--before:
I've got quite a few more projects planned, but it feels great to be done with the big stuff. Now it's time to start adding the fun details.