DIY

TORE UP FROM THE FLOOR UP: PART I

There were many, many things that we knew we wanted to change about our home from the moment we first laid eyes on it. That is part of what drew us to this property in the first place-we love putting our stamp on a space and making it our own. One element of our new abode that we immediately agreed was top priority: ripping up all of the wall-to-wall carpeting and replacing it with hardwood flooring.

Before laying Hardwood Flooring in front entry

Before laying Hardwood Flooring in master bedroom

Before laying Hardwood Flooring in bedroom

Before laying Hardwood Flooring in dining room

The dog hair and dander imbedded into almost 2,000 square feet of flooring was not doing our respiratory health any favors. Having a wipeable surface where pollen and dust cannot hide as easily was very appealing. And aesthetically, what is more pleasing to the design-minded eye (other than Johnny Depp obviously) than continuity in flooring across an entire space? With the goal of having the carpeting gone before moving in, we wasted no time in pulling it up the day we closed on our house. We also purchased our hardwoods that day. It was a busy (and expensive!) one. This is my (extremely flattering) ripping-up-carpet-takes-muscle face.

Meghan tearing up carpet to lay Hardwood Flooring

Carpet removed for Hardwood Flooring installation dining room

We snapped a few photos of the carpet before pulling it up, which was fairly high-quality and in remarkable condition considering the light color, and posted them in the free section on Craigslist with a cautionary about the dog hair. Within a half-hour span, we had 30 emails with an “I’ll take it!” Every last roll of carpet and carpet pad were picked up the very same day by the sweetest husband-wife duo that were renovating their first home. The dog hair situation was not a problem, they reassured us-they were very happy to take it off of our hands. Felt so good. Yay for not automatically assuming everything has to go to a landfill (which I will admit was my first instinct). One man’s trash is another man’s new flooring, amIright?

Before laying Hardwood Flooring in stair landing

Kitchen before laying Hardwood Flooring

Note the sheer chaos in the photos below. We removed all of our kitchen’s lower cabinets in order to run the hardwoods from wall to wall, making our future kitchen layout options boundless. All of the baseboards came up too. And don’t let that innocuous-looking vinyl flooring in our entryway and kitchen fool you. She was a wicked beast to remove. The floor was glued down to a substrate that was glued, nailed and screwed to the subfloor beneath it. With the help of our multi-tool, pry bars and lots of good ol’ fashioned determination, we finally got it up. What we were left with was a bare subfloor ready for some new hardwood flooring!

Kitchen carpet removed Hardwood Flooring progress

Kitchen carpet removed Hardwood Flooring progress 2

We had spent the better part of the month prior to our closing date picking out our hardwood flooring. And as I mentioned above, we placed the order for the hardwoods the day we bought our home. But how did we choose which hardwoods were right for us? We had several criteria, most of which came about through trial and error with our first home’s hardwood flooring:

  1. It had to be a hard wood species. Durability with kids around is key. I never want to be that mom that says “Don’t touch that because it’s too precious!” in our own home. In our minds, it’s our child’s home too and we want him to feel comfortable and free to interact with his environment and have fun! Acacia, our first home’s flooring, was tough as nails. For this home, we landed on a species just a tad softer but still far toward the hard end of the Janka scale. (The Janka scale measures the relative hardness of various wood species.)
  2. It had to be midtone. We had super dark wood floors in our old home and they showed every spec of dust and hair. It was a losing battle. I like cleaning but even that floor was too much for this vacuum fanatic. We also didn’t want anything too light. Knowing our walls would go lighter, we sought a tone that would help to ground the space.
  3. It had to have some variation. Wood that is all one note is not as interesting to the eye. We were after a wood species that had some variation from plank to plank and even within the same plank. Variation also hides dust (are you sensing a theme here?).
  4. It had to have texture. Our hardwood flooring in our first home was handscraped Acacia. Handscraping hardwood creates a gently undulating texture that, when viewed from certain angles, appears like subtle waves on a choppy sea. They were stunning. The one thing that we didn’t consider when choosing that flooring was that when you walk on it with socks or freshly moisturized feet (me, not Marco;), the wavy texture does increase your risk of slipping. Let’s just say there were a couple near misses for this heel-stepper. But! We still loved the textured look and feel. So when it came time to choose our flooring for this house, we went with a wire-brushed texture. These planks are flat-not wavy like our old hardwoods-with a subtle, straw-like quality.
  5. It had to be low-sheen. Our first house’s floors were gorgeous but the higher sheen (along with the deep shade, mentioned above) further magnified the dust. In fact, the weekend they were installed, I recall my uncle asking, “You must really like to dust huh?” Should have been a clue that I was in for a world of hurt. Live and learn. The finish on the new floors is matte. We can see the dust but it doesn’t stand out like a zit on the tip of your nose on the first day of middle school.
  6. It had to be semi-wide. This last one is just personal preference. Although there are some really great examples out in the big wild web of interiors sporting narrow planks, I tend to like the aesthetic of a wider plank. It looks more casual yet simultaneously sophisticated to me for some reason.

So taking all of our criteria into consideration, we were able to easily eliminate the choices that didn’t fit our vision. We finally landed on 3/4 x 5″ wire-brushed Sugar Mill Hickory from Lumber Liquidators which is also where we purchased our first home’s hardwood flooring. Squint and you can see a couple of dog hairs on the wood. They don’t stand out like a sore thumb yet won’t get lost in a sea of carpet either. You can’t hide from me, now, lint! Muahaha!

Hardwood Flooring Selection Lumber Liquidators Sugar Mill Hickory

I chatted up the saleslady, casually mentioned that we had purchased from them in the past and then politely asked for a discount off their lowest price per square foot. And, as has been our experience more often than not, she made it happen! So definitely try that. Oh and we went with their eco Silent Sound HD underlayment, which dampens sound tremendously. Marco picked up our order from the store a couple weeks after it was placed and, box by heavy freakin’ box, we lugged it into our new house to acclimate for a couple of weeks before starting the marathon task of laying hardwood flooring. Public service announcement: do not skimp the timeframe on this step. Always heed your flooring manufacturer’s recommendation on this one. Your wood MUST have adequate time to swell and shrink in your space before you begin laying it or you will have issues with squeaking and/or big gaps. No es bueno. And so we don’t leave you hanging, here’s a sneaky peak or two of our new floors going in!

Hardwood Flooring progress selecting first boards

Hardwood Flooring progress wood floor board selection

We’ll chat later this week about nailing down 2,000 square feet of hardwood flooring with just our four hands (and “help” from a two-year-old…did I mention we’re crazy?) and lived stayed married to tell the tale. Spoiler alert: it was so worth it.

About The Author

Meghan