I recently had a friend ask for advice on how to do wood floors on a budget. I can only pull from my own experience so here goes…
Figure out if you want hardwood or laminate and figure out if you’re going to glue, nail, or float it.
You’ll have to Pro/Con the differences between hardwood and laminate. It’s been awhile since we picked our floors, but laminates are typically less expensive than hardwoods. Laminates do not sound like hardwood when walking on them, but can give you the visual effect and warmth of wood.
I’m sure laminate gets scratches and scrapes like hardwood, but it is likely a better choice if you want to rent out your house later.
Even though it costs more, I feel that hardwood is a better product and we’ll see the investment come back when we sell the house.
We actually have an engineered hardwood from Bruce. (If you’re curious, we got the ‘Gunstock’ color.) You can see the layers when you slice into it and only the top is a hardwood veneer. ‘They’ say you could sand the top layer off and stain it, but that makes me nervous. I’ll leave that to someone else if they really want to change it.
I also saw this next bit on the box, but didn’t pay any attention to it as it didn’t apply to us. Apparently, you can’t/shouldn’t use some choices in basements. I’m guessing this is related to a moisture or grading thing. I know nothing about basements; we don’t have them here in Dallas.
Alright, we are now at the point were I have no other input on laminate (I just don’t know about it)… so some flooring options will allow you to glue, nail, or float your floor. Other options will allow one or two of those choices. Figure it out; it may make a difference in your cost or amount of time spent installing.
As our foundation is slab, we’d have to put down plywood before nailing the floor down. We axed that idea. Also, we don’t have a nail gun, so we’d either have to purchase or rent one. If you have those tools or someone is installing it for you, nailing might be the quickest option (at least it looks that way on TV).
I also, don’t like the sound of a floated floor. It sounds a little hollow to me.
We went with glue. The glue we picked has a vapor barrier in it so ground moisture or something doesn’t come up? I don’t know. This glue is expensive (!) and extremely tacky. It will not come off your clothes and can be difficult to get off your skin. The longer it has been exposed to air, the harder it is to spread. You will need a grooved trowel.
Shop different stores to compare prices. We actually ended up a Lowe’s and worked a deal with them. As we bought somewhere around 1200 sq ft, I guess they gave us a bulk deal. I think it was normally $2.79/sq ft and we got it for $2.19/sq ft (I’ve slept since then). They also gave us a deal on glue which ran regularly at $140 a bucket (5 gallons?). We bought 5 buckets for $100 each. You just have to ask for their best price and be prepared to walk away or have other store’s ads (Lowe’s price matches).
As we installed the floor, we placed heavy objects on top of the wood to make sure we had a solid connection. If you don’t have a good connection with the floor, it will sound hollow when walking across it. I found this to be inevitable. You just can’t avoid it completely.
If you will not be installing the floor yourself, factor in labor costs.
– You need to bring the wood inside to acclimate to your interior climate before installing. Wood expands and contracts and you don’t want a drastic change to occur after installing it.
– You will have warped boards. Most of them will be fine and only make it a little more difficult to install.
– If you get glue on the surface of the wood, it will mostly wipe. Once it is dry, walk around on the floor in your sneakers and it’ll wear off over time.
– You will scratch the wood at some point. Try not to do it on purpose, but get over it.
– The glue is really heavy, but makes a great weight to hold down the boards while they are setting.
I have a lot of other tips that are mostly geared toward installing it yourself. I’d be glad to answer any questions.