It’s funny, but this click and lock flooring is supposed to make it easy for anyone to lay a floor, but it’s incredibly unforgiving compared to any form of wood strip or plank flooring. I measured the entire width of the floor, checking and rechecking, because this stuff is a certain width, and that’s that. You can’t rip it down or taper it once you get going. You have to stick with it to the very end, no matter how badly it turns out, sorta like taking your daughter to see the Barbie movie.
You put down a thin padded sheet first, which is like luxury tar paper or something. Anything that covers all the holes in the old floor is all right with me. The work goes quickly once you get the hang of clicking the tongues and grooves into place. The long horizontal seams go together easily. You have to join the butt ends together, too, though, and that’s a little harder. We bought a hook tool that you slip over the end of a board and bang on to move it right to left or left to right.
Once we’re past the little alcove at the cellar door, the floor opens up and you start tearing through boxes and knee ligaments pretty quickly. It’s worth your while to keep checking the distance from the flooring you just laid to the opposite wall to ensure both ends of the run are more or less equidistant. You can kind of swivel the whole floor around to keep it aligned at first, but after a while the friction makes it much harder.
Flooring like this moves around a bit with humidity. Real wood floors do, too, but differently. Wood floors expand only across their grain. A one-foot-wide plank might gain 1/8″ in width in the summer, and lose it during heating season. But if that same plank was twenty feet long, it wouldn’t gain 1/8″ in length. Composite flooring like this floor isn’t wood, and it doesn’t have grain, so it expands and contracts every which way. They suggest that you leave about 1/2″ gap all around the perimeter of your rooms, and cover it with a base shoe molding. I hate those. We’ll put the baseboards and toe kicks on when we’re done to avoid the problem entirely.
We ran the flooring right into our new/old pantry. We avoided a common remodeling problem I’ve witnessed countless times: we extended the floor under the dishwasher.
Back in the day, if the dishwasher was already installed, and the floor guy came, he’d tell you he wasn’t a plumber, and then he’d install the flooring butting up against the toekick of the dishwasher. Then the counter guy would come and drop five hundred pounds of counter on top of it. If the dishwasher broke, you couldn’t get it out without demolishing the counter over the washer or the floor in front of it. That’s why you can see our dishwasher running around loose in the dining room in the last picture. We put a bunch of short flooring scraps in the dishwasher hole and re-installed it when we were done.
When you reach the end of the run across the floor, you have to rip the last planks to the correct width. This is useful for making the table saw blade just as dull as the chop saw blade after cutting all the ends. I’m not sure exactly what click and lock flooring is. It could be granite and diamonds mixed with cobalt. Or sawdust and concrete. Whatever it is, plan on chucking out all your saw blades when you’re done. They look like they’re covered with baby teeth when the planks are done with them.
OK, so now we’ve got a real, live floor. The room was back in service pretty quick, two days, soup to nuts. Time to trim it out, and paint it.
[To be continued. If you’d like to read the kitchen saga from the beginning, click here.]