Hey, remember that floor project I’ve left unfinished for about, oh, four or five years?
Well, this week and next week, we’re on our “staycation.” I get about 6 weeks of vacation a year, and this was the only time I could fit a two-week block in before the end of the year. And so we had decided that since we just did a big trip to England and Ireland (which I haven’t really blogged much about, but we did have a truly awesome time), we would not go anywhere and stay home, doing projects.
One of which would be the dreaded “Floor Project from Hell.” David had carried on with it once or twice and it was literally at the last, last, last stage: all that was needed was to rip the last row of boards edgewise and “pull” them into place up against the next to last row. But he couldn’t really figure out how to do that without ruining the edge of the board, because the “pressure sensitive” glue on the tongue side was completely dried out by then (years after I started the project) and his attempts convinced him it couldn’t be done.
So the room sat empty, with a few odds and ends of tools and lamps and unused crap from other rooms.
Until Monday, that is, when we had the anarchic joy of ripping it all out so we could start the project over with a different product, which we’d ordered through Lowe’s. As far as we could make out from the display rack, it was a company called US Floors, which seems to be these guys. But when we picked up the boxes at Lowe’s a couple of days later, they were just “no-name” white boxes with the color and size specs on a label at one end, and a funny-looking taped-on tag in Chinese that was probably a shipping label of some kind. We had this idea, you see, of using a “green” or environmentally friendly, renewable-resource kind of flooring product.
Oh. Boy. Was. That. A. Mistake.
Fortunately, we balked before we actually put any time into trying to install it. For one thing, there was absolutely no installation brochure in the the box we opened, and rather than open all of them and empty them, looking for an envelope that should have been sitting on top of the first board. And for another thing, that “no-name,” featureless white box had really put us off. I sent an email off to what looked like the right manufacturer’s email address asking for more installation information. After looking around online for installation instructions (we wanted to use the method for a glued-together floating floor) we gave up and took the whole mess back to Lowe’s for a refund. The next day, I got an email response from US Flooring, giving us the wrong installation information. So that was a bust, and we spent yesterday in a fruitless search for other brands of either bamboo or hardwood floors.
We went to Lumber Liquidators, which was a bust, because their support of NPR, Car Talk, and public radio notwithstanding, we could tell that their primary market was contractors and serious rehabbers, not inexperienced DIY’ers like ourselves.
Then we went to this really weird outfit called iFloor.com, which kept coming up in my Google searches. They had a location in Palatine, so we drove up there. Another bust – it was in a funky little stripmall not far from where we used to live – David remarked it was our “old stomping grounds.” And when we walked in, it was two people in a bare storefront, staring intently at computer screens, with the bare minimum of racks of flooring samples standing in the middle of the room, or against the shabby, dirty walls. It literally looked like a fly-by-night joint; they could throw the samples in the back of a truck in a couple of hours and be gone, leaving nothing but damaged walls and gouged floors behind them. Brr! Creepy. But we started looking at other products and coming around to the idea of an oak engineered floor, after looking at more samples there. They didn’t have much in the way of bamboo either, and their knowledge of the product was about as sketchy as what we’d found online, or at Lowe’s.
Wish I’d found the info at HardwoodInstaller.com earlier.
After lunch at Olive Garden (gah! must women who lunch scream at their table partners so?) we returned home empty handed and discouraged. David wasn’t keen on continuing with the project idea, but then started talking about doing all three upstairs rooms. Whoa, well, now, let’s see if we can complete one small room first, as a proof of concept, with the easiest method we can find.
So we came around to the idea of “locking” or click-installation engineered hardwood. Decided to go back to Lowe’s (not Home Depot) and just take another look. And they had their DIY-grade Bruce Lockamp;Fold flooring available in several colors and two different widths. After talking it over, we went with the Gunstock color, which is kind of a not-quite red oak kind of color. We wish it had a thicker hardwood layer, but after the 2-day acclimation period, we’ll tidy up the underlayment, get out the spacer shims, and lay a couple of rows to see if it hangs together or not. Reportedly it, too, requires a “light tap” with a tapping block and rubber mallet. There’s a video online. We feel like we have more confidence because it’s a name brand, and also it’s a US-made product. We’ll see how it goes on Friday.
UPDATE: It’s now Monday, and it’s gone pretty well! We’d be closer to completely done if we hadn’t come up short (literally) on the number of planks we needed.