Laminate Install Questions (Sorry I'm So Long-Winded)


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Old 12-13-06, 11:50 AM
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Laminate Install Questions (Sorry I'm So Long-Winded)

Hello, everyone. After much research, including lurking and reading both here and on the hardwood installer board, I have decided to install laminate flooring in two rooms of my house which receive a lot of dog traffic. As much as I'd prefer the real thing, it appears that I'd be setting myself up for disappointment were I to install hardwood in light of the fact that I have two 90+ pound dogs and one 17-pounder.

In any event, I am beginning the project by replacing the carpet in the family room (463sf) with Quick-Step Perspective Long Plank in Wenge. The same flooring will be installed in the master bedroom (249sf) which connects to the family room via a 8'x6' vestibule with double doors. The project will be completed in two stages: the family room will be completed first, and the master will follow approximately 30 days later. I ordered my flooring from a online retailer and will be picking it up from Quick-Step's Dallas distribution center early next week (in doing so, I eliminated the shipping costs and sales taxes, which winds up beating even floorone.com's best pricing).

To date, I have pulled up the carpet and removed the tackstrip in the family room. The tackstrip was nailed into the concrete about every six inches, and in some places there are divots in the subfloor where I pulled out the nails. They are not deep divots, but they are there nevertheless. Do I need to patch these divots with a concrete filler before I start the install? I assume that I just trowel the patch/filler stuff on, then screed it off until it is level with the surrounding subfloor? My plan is to (1) get whatever patching need be done completed this weekend, (2) have a few days next week for the floor to acclimatize, (3) complete whatever subfloor preparation/testing need be done at the end of next week, and (4) begin the install the following weekend.

I also need help figuring out the correct starting point for laying the planks, because I have one six-foot stretch of angled wall where the hallway opens up into the family room, as well as a corner fireplace, both of which will require angle cuts. I'm usually pretty handy, but I've never installed a floor before. So, hoping that I don't sound too much like some ditzy female, how do I go about marking the planks to make the angle cuts? You may get a better idea of what I'm talking about if you take a look at the floorplan and pictures in my yahoo photoalbum (http://new.photos.yahoo.com/cini40/album/576460762357253226).

As I am only installing the laminate in the family room/hallway/vestibule next week, I figured I could just install a baby threshold in the double-doorway into the master for now, and replace it with a t-molding when I install the flooring in the master next month. Any reason not to do this?

Finally, instead of ordering the Quick-Step wallbase, I think I will simply purchase primed wallbase at either HD or Lowe's to replace the builder's 3-1/2" stuff. I really didin't want to dick around with having to remove and reinstall wallbase, but because there are several places where the wallbase goes into another room which is at a different floor height, it makes sense to just get new 5" stuff. I do not, however, intend to install the new wallbase until I have completed installation of the laminate in both rooms. Any problem with leaving the wallbase off for about a month if I leave spacers in place (other than aesthetics?).

Oh, it looks like the only tools I really need are:

(1) a jamb undercut saw (saw a hand one at Lowe's for $16.00 -- is this good enough?);
(2) a miter saw (do I need to spend the money on an electric one, or is the Stanley miter box with saw for about $15.00 okay?)
(3) saw for cutting the laminate planks. I have a cordless circular saw -- will this work, or do I need to get a table saw? I saw a table saw on sale at HD for less than $100.00. (I will be eventually installing another 1,000 sf of hardwood in the remainder of the house -- purchasing seems to make more sense than renting each time) Any particular blade sizes I need to use? Any direction on saws would be greatly appreciated.
(4) I got the Quick-Step installation kit, so I think I'm okay with that.
(5) Any other tools I've forgotten. I have two toolkits -- a household and a mechanics -- which include most basic handtools. I also have a cordless and a corded drill (for installing rail for trim).

Sorry if I'm asking simplistic questions, but I'm doing this project by myself and need all the help I can get!!

Thanks in advance for your input!
 
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Old 12-13-06, 02:11 PM
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I will try to answer as many of your questions as I can, and will leave the rest for the pros. First, you are making the right choice with laminate. Hardwood would take a beating from the dogs for sure.
As for the divots in the concrete, if it were me I wouldn't worry too much about it as long as they were small, say smaller than a 2 or 3 inch diameter. Filling them would not hurt either.
For cutting the angles, that won't be easy, but a pencil, measuring tape and a good straightedge will be your friend. You will have to take measurements on both sides of the board you need to cut. Make your pencil marks and connect them with your straightedge. This should give you your angle to cut.
To your question about wallbase, leave it off as long as you need to. It does not go behind the laminate flooring anyway. When you install it, it will sit on top of the edge of the floor.
Now for your tools:
1. Yes, you will need a pullsaw. A hand saw is fine, the door jambs cut pretty easily.
2. Mitre saw, you def. will want a power saw. A hand saw will take forever and will take a lot of effort to cut the laminate. I just bought a cheapo from Sears for $99 to do my floor.
3. Table saw. Yes you want one. You are going to have to rip down 2 rows of flooring. A cheapo table saw will make this easier. Yes, you could use a circular saw, but a cordless saws battery will go dead in about 5 minutes.
My mitre saw and table saw use the same size blade, which is 10". That is a pretty standard size. You may want to think about picking up an extra blade for your new mitre saw, as the laminate dulls the blade pretty quickly.
4. The install kit will help.
5. Other tools you will need are pencil, measuring tape, hammer, knee pads. I also put my jig saw to good use to cut around pipes.

I hope all this helps...good luck with your install!
 
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Old 12-14-06, 11:08 AM
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Hey, Chip -- thanks for the prompt response! Just a few more questions:

1. With respect to the table and mitre saws, are there a minimum number of blade teeth (i.e.,60-tooth) I should use for the laminate, and does it matter if the blade is steel or some other type of material?

2. When you say, "rip down two rows of flooring," are you talking about the rows on each sidewall? Each 9.5 mm plank measures 3/8" thick by 6-1/6" wide by 54 1/5" long. I assume that I measure the width of the floor (converting to inches), then divide by 6-1/6" to figure our the number of planks across, and then determine whether or not the first and last rows need to be "ripped?" Is that what you are talking about? The left wall of the room in which I'm starting (an outside wall) is the longest wall IF I don't include the hallway (which is 16' long) and the vestibule (which is about 6" wide) the runs with the ending wall. (Do you understand what I mean? If not, take a look at the floorplan in the yahoo photo album).

3. As far as tools go, I have the pads, measuring tape and all that good stuff. Think I'll check Harbor Freight for good prices on both the miter and table saws. Otherwise, I think I'm okay.

Thanks again for your help!

Francine
 
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Old 12-14-06, 12:57 PM
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I used a 60 tooth blade (steel I think) on both mitre and table saw and had pretty good luck. You could use a blade with more teeth to minimize the risk of chipping, but the blade prices are a bit higher for the better blade. And the blade wears down quick! My mitre saw came with the 60 tooth, so that is what I used and it worked for me.
#2...yes and yes. You will most likely need to rip the boards the length of your sidewalls. Unless you get an exact number when you do your calculation, which is unlikely.
#3. If you won't get a lot of use out of your new mitre saw or table saw after your install is done, don't be afraid to get the cheapo. No need to break the bank on tools you will only need to use a few times.
Sounds like you are in pretty good shape. Now it is time to get rolling! Good luck! It is fun but it is hard work, and it is satisfying as hell when you are done!
 
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Old 12-17-06, 09:36 AM
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Woohoo! So I'm about ready to start with my install. I pick up my flooring materials from BPI on Tuesday. I've gotten a handle on removing the tack strip and wallbase (I thought this was going to really be hard until I figured out a technique with the pry bar that works very well). I've swept really well, but will go over the subfloor again prior to install with a pushbroom and shop vac. (If things go as planned with respect to acclimatization, etc., I'll start laying on Thursday evening.) Quick-Step's instructions indicate that I don't have to completely remove all of the furniture in the room -- just move it to one side, lay that section of flooring, replace furniture and continue install on remaining areas of room. My question is, will the floor be structurally sound enough to withstand the weight of a sofa and loveseat with only half of the floor being installed? I have a massive solid oak 6' wide by 3'deep x 4-1/2' high entertainment center on the finishing wall which holds a ton of electronics (32" TV, bose system, satellite box and cd changer) which weighs probably 200 pounds empty -- who knows how much with the equipment in it. It would be VERY NICE to be able to simply put some sliders under this thing and push it aside while I'm completing the install. But I am concerned about putting weight on a half-finished floor. Supposedly, the UniLock system is so advanced that this is a recommended method. If I DO leave the furniture in the room during install, what would I use to hold the flooring in place where I end the first half of the install? Any reason NOT to leave the furniture in the room?

Also, I purchased a Ryobi 10" table saw and 60-tooth "fine-cut" blade at HD Friday night, along with this lazer floor level thingy that you use instead of a chalk line. The guy at HD tried to get me to buy an 80-tooth "precision cut" blade, but I don't think I really needed it. Or do I? If so, I need to make any exchanges before Thursday so I'll be good to go. For what I'm using this saw for (installing laminate and, later, engineered wood), is this Ryobi table saw okay? It was on sale for $87.00, so it's not top-of-the-line, but it seems like it will serve the purpose. Any need to move up to something better?

I would like to mop the subfloor with a vinegar-water solution to neutralize any traces of pet odor beneath the floor. If I do this, should I wait longer than two days to install the floor? Or is there any reason NOT to mop first? (i.e., can vinegar hurt the underlayment? I'm using the Quick-Step Unisound 3-in-1 underlayment).

I hope this post makes sense, and that someone will take a stab at answering. This is a great resource for do-it-yourselfers like me! I'll post a link to my yahoo photo album with pictures once the job is complete.
 
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Old 12-17-06, 03:18 PM
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Don't worry about the floor being structurally sound to hold furniture. As long as you don't drag furniture right along the unfinished edges of the flooring and as long as you put the furniture as close to the finished side as you can, you will be just fine.
If you end up stopping halfway through, I recommend not leaving unfinished edges exposed. Whenn I did mine, I just slid a couple scraps along the unfinished edge to protect it from being damaged.
The table saw you bought will be fine. You just need something to make a nice and straight long cut, and that will do that with ease. The blade will be fine too, no need to get anything more.
It can't hurt to mop the subfloor, as long as you don't use too much water. Don't saturate it. No matter what you do, make sure you leave enough time for it to dry completely before you begin your install.
 
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Old 12-18-06, 05:26 PM
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Chip -- thanks so much for all of your help! I think I'll try to install without completely emptying the room. Anyhow, my brother is taking me to pick up my flooring tomorrow afternoon, and told me he'd bring me his table saw for me to use (I purchased the Ryobi 10" with an included stand; he has a 7-1/4" portable without a stand). Quick question: would the 7-1/4" table saw work just as well as the 10"? I haven't opened the Ryobi box, nor the 60-tooth blade and could return them to HD for a refund, saving myself about $120.00. If using the 7-1/4" is too much of a PITA, though, I'll keep it. Thanks in advance!
 
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Old 12-18-06, 07:51 PM
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you will end up using the table saw for everything!!

The 10" miter saw won't cut all the way across a wide plank, even if you lift the back as you cut.

I use my table saw for everything, when doing laminate, unless I have to breakout the sliding compound, then it is going to cost more money... as it means I'm doing some real precision work ... LOL
 
 

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