Things I learned about laying tile and laminate floors:
- Plan for at least 2x as long as you think you will need to finish the job (in our case it took us 4x)
- Plan to buy at least 10% more material than you have calculated needing ( we used almost every single piece even with the 10% overage)
- You will need those wood shop skills from the 7th grade and all of your neighbor’s tools. (You can save a lot of cash by borrowing tools or renting good ones)
- Using a spray bottle to wet down the concrete before chiseling it will save a ton of time later when you have to clean an entire house full of concrete dust.
- Laminate and tile can be a one man/woman job, but it sure is harder that way. Get a buddy to help out, if for nothing else, to keep your spirits up when you are about to lose your mind.
We removed the carpet only to discover that our hillside coastal manor had concrete floors. I posted the carpet on Craigslist for $75 and someone came and got it with the padding. The great part about this is that had the contractors actually called me back, they would have charged me $130 to haul it off. Now that’s favorable math plus it goes to a new home instead of a landfill. It’s bi-winning.
After busting out the original tile fireplace hearth with an air hammer, Andrea got to work on designing something new with tiles she picked up from Home Depot. I began work on getting the concrete floors as level as possible using filler since grinding the concrete was out of the question. My dad worked on measuring and leveling the floors too.
By day three we realized that this wasn’t going to be a two day project and severe exhaustion was setting in. What was to be a home improvement project was slowly turning into our own version of the great pyramids. Andrea had started leveling the area where her tile work was going to be and my dad and I upgraded to a 48 oz. dead blow hammer and maximum strength Advil.
Brought back memories of tribulations on day 3. We realized that we had started on the wrong side of the room as far back as day 1. As a result, we ended up taking out completed sections of the floor so that we could move the remaining mass into place and cut pieces that would custom fit some unique angles near the 1/2bath. I will be the first to admit that when it comes to extreme manual labor, I am weak willed at best and had it not been for encouragement of my wife and my dad, I’m somewhat certain our couch would be on a concrete floor right now.
Day # *(&&%!
We took a few days off of construction to move out of our rental. By this time, both Andrea, my dad and myself were so exhausted that we had become delirious. I have so much respect for skilled folks that do this type of work every day. It is incredibly tedious and physically difficult. Andrea and I started making a mockery of our own work just to keep smiles on our faces.
Day something and something.
Well we are finally moved in and just in time to catch an incredible 4th of July fireworks display. We had a house warming party and guests just loved the new look of the place even though it is still somewhat under construction. We are very happy with the new look and the fact that we did it all ourselves with just a little creativity and some elbow grease makes it feel 1000x better. Also, I think both Andrea and I have a new found confidence in our ability to take on something we have never done and just do the best we can. We owe a great deal of gratitude to my dad who drove a LONG way to help put in flooring, now that’s love.
Tools Used for Laminate
- Air compressor for air hammer to take out old tile, grout and carpet tack boards – works awesome!
- Thick pair of gloves to keep the rusty tack boards from poking you
- Tape measure
- Laser Level
- T- Square and combination square
- Cordless 5.5″ circular saw – I bought the Ryobi + lithium battery with the laser line and a 24 tooth blade, cut beautifully.
- Cat’s Claw to remove base boards and left over tack board and nails
- Vacuum (at least a 2″ hose or it won’t pick up heavy things like nails and concrete chunks) – I got a Rigid from Home Depot, Not impressed, but it works.
- Safety Goggles ( I tried glasses first but the saw dust is so fine that it just goes around the open spots, Goggles worked perfect)
- Dead blow hammer ( I used a 45 ounce, worked like a charm)
- Steel hammer to pound in left over nails that you can’t get out of the floor
- Floats and trowels in the event you need to even out the floor with filler
- Belt sander for wood substraits that need evening
- Caulking gun for threshold glue
To learn more about how Andrea tiled the hearth read her detailed post here.