While we touched on our family room when we first moved in, we mostly just painted the walls and later updated our fireplace but more was needed in this room. 

That 70s House is a tri-level and off our kitchen and down five steps is our family room. I have always really liked this room because it has high ceilings, it’s a good size, the kitchen over looks it and it opens up to the patio. BUT…..you knew there was a “but” coming. It had really old dirty carpet, and I HATE carpet! When we bought the house we didn’t have it in the budget to change the flooring down there, but I really wanted to. We waited a few years and then it was time to address it. I really did not want to put more carpet in because it is a high traffic area and it leads to the back yard. And our house will NEVER be a “no shoes” house. Why? for a few reasons. A) I don’t like being bare foot unless I am on the beach. B) Shoes are a part of the outfit and I am only 5’1″ and I NEED heals! C) I think its really weird and uncomfortable to make people take their shoes off when they come over. Haven’t you seen the episode of Sex in the City where Carrie’s Minolo Blaniks get stolen at a party where the host made them take off their shoes? I rest my case. Now don’t get me wrong, we don’t track through the house with muddy or wet shoes and I sure as heck don’t walk around my house in stilettos on a regular basis, but, I can if I want to! But the main point here is, we wear our shoes in the house if we want to, they don’t get left in a pile at the door.

If you have been reading along you probably already know we had hardwood installed in the living room, dining room and kitchen when we moved in. I do like my hardwood, but it’s not as durable as I thought it would be, or maybe I am getting more OCD? Definitely possible. In our previous house we had laminate wood and I actually think I liked it better. Mostly because of it’s durability. What to do. Even though tile offers some really beautiful options, I felt like it would be too cold in such a big room. So no tile, no carpet, probably not hardwood, so I was leaning towards laminate. One day, I was exploring the wood flooring isle at Home Depot and found a laminate that I LOVED! It was a hand scraped laminate made by Pergo called Coffee. Personally, I think this laminate looks more like hardwood than my real hardwood. I really wanted this!

The tough decision here was, will it look silly if the floor upstairs doesn’t match the floor downstairs? This was something Barry and I went back and forth on for a while. We ultimately decided we liked the laminate more. Even though it is a little darker than the floor upstairs, at some point we will have to refinish the hardwood and we can make it all match then. The other question was what to do with the stairs. I honestly didn’t know what to do, so I completely ignored them for a while. That solves that. You can read more about what we decided on the stairs here.

Right about now you are probably thinking, “this seems like one of her smaller projects.” Ha! I had you fooled. What I have not mentioned yet is there is also a half bath and a bedroom on this floor connected by a hallway for a total of about 500 sqft. And of course I wanted to continue the laminate down the hallway and into the office (the 4th bedroom). I really wanted a seamless transition from one room to the next to avoid breaking up the space visually, making them feel smaller. Currently, all the rooms did not have the same floor……….oh but they would soon!

Let demo begin! We moved everything out of the family room and Barry ripped up the carpet one day while I was spending some quality time with my mom. If you have ever laid laminate or even pulled up carpet, you are likely aware of the sea of staples underneath. In order to lay the laminate all of these needed to be removed. So we each grabbed two pairs of pliers (one needle nosed and one flat) and a red solo cup, and got to work. BTW, the red solo cup was for the staples…….I’m not in college anymore, I drink wine from a real glass 🙂 This doesn’t seem that time consuming but it is! And I swear, you think you have gotten them all and suddenly you find 20 more. True story. This was just one of the cups of staples we pulled…..

In the process of removing all the carpet and baseboards some of the walls got dinged and needed some touch ups. So we went out to the garage to get the leftover paint to touch up before we laid the floor. After all, we didn’t want to get paint on our new floors. A few hours go by and I was looking at the walls and they looked like Swiss cheese……OH NO! The paint wasn’t the same color anymore! At this point I wanted to cry! There wasn’t enough paint left to repaint all the walls and I had already “touched up” a little here and a little there. So they all needed to be re-painted. This room took us FOREVER to paint the first time. Warning, this is where my “Crazy” comes out. Rather than dwell on the amount of time this would set us back, I thought “maybe we should scrape the ceilings now too?” I mean there was no flooring or furniture in the room so if we were ever going to do this, that was the time, right? Barry did agree, but hesitantly. You can read the full post on removing our popcorn ceilings here.

Once we finished the ceiling, it did look good! But now we were about two months into this project and were just starting to lay the floor. See this project really snowballed! First we laid out the underlayment for the area we were going to install first. We could have skipped this step because the Pergo flooring we chose already had underlayment attached, but we learned from previous experience it helps with leveling issues and it makes the floor quieter when you walk on it. So we did it. We started with the exterior wall by our patio door. This helped prevent the rows from shifting too much as we “tapped” the planks together. Given that we had done this before we already had a tapping block, spacers, and this metal tool for when you get to the ends next to walls.

If you have a square room with no obstacles like floor vents, stairs, or a wet bar…..this goes pretty quickly. I pulled boards and measured and marked for cuts while Barry tapped in the boards. Now when I say tap, I really mean hit them pretty hard to make sure they lock together, but this is what the tapping block is for so the edges don’t get damaged as you hammer. There was also some planning involved in how to lay each row. I like each row to look random, but I am FAR too OCD to allow a true random pattern of course. Basically, when I looked at multiple rows I never wanted to see the planks end in the same place for at least six rows. Most of the time, we could start the next row with the cut portion of the previous row and a “random” pattern would appear. But when the length of the room varied because of the fireplace, stairs, etc. it didn’t always work out. Once a board was cut, it could only be used as the starter of a new row since one side of the board is the male part and one is the female part. If both ends of a board had cuts, that piece was wasted and couldn’t be used. So my job was a little more complex that just handing off pieces, as a lot can be wasted if this isn’t contemplated. We used a miter saw to cut the ends of the boards and a jigsaw for ripping and more intricate cuts.

It was necessary to cut several door jams and moldings during this process. Because we had encountered this on other projects, we decided to buy the power tool designed to do this to speed things up.

The actual laying of the floor took us about 3 days as we ran into some challenges around our bar and our stairs. But nothing we couldn’t figure out after a few glasses of wine. Wine solves everything 🙂

Here is the finished product!

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