Flooring - What? Already?
When building a house you get ample opportunities to really screw stuff up. There is a lot of 'going with your gut' on things too. Flooring...common wisdom dictates that this should go in last since you are cutting, drilling, etc. in the space and is not going to be good for a nice new floor. In other words, do all that work and then put the flooring in last. Having previously installed hardwood flooring in my apartment, I remember all the pieces that needed to be cut and modified to get around walls and corners. This was so painfully time consuming and pesky that is scarred me for life. When faced with a beautiful wide open space that has nothing on it yet, the temptation is great just to drop the floor in. I may regret this one...we'll see.
See how tempting that is?
So, ultimately couldn't resist. I went on Craigslist and got myself some engineered flooring which has a thin layer of actual wood on a sub layer of plywood. It's also got some nice grooves and a tongue so the pieces fit together great. The guy I bought the stuff from had exactly 120 square feet left over from a larger job he did. I got the flooring at over a 50% off discount from what I might have paid in a store (right at $2 a square foot).
Since the ply on the floor is already nice and flat, there isn't much to do to prep the floor. I did put down some flooring paper and then proceeded to install the floor in a floating fashion.
You'll see the little red spacers. Those you need to create a bit of space (1/2 inch or so) around the edges, so that the flooring has some room to expand and or contract. There will be paneling and molding to cover up those spaces ultimately. Take your time with this first row and keep it nice and straight as this row forms the basis for all subsequent rows of flooring you lay down. Small errors here become much bigger ones as you continue to add more rows and fill the space.
I opted not to glue down or nail the floor in place, so it is of the 'floating variety'. I figured that when the walls get set up, I would be drilling through it and locking it in place that way. Beyond that the individual pieces all get glued together as well. A single bottle was plenty for this job and it worked really well.
I proceeded to continue putting it down... The last piece in one row gets cut down in length and becomes the first piece in the next row. That way the cut ends are always at the beginning and end of the row. I also opted to put the flooring in lengthwise since when you walk into the house the long lines provide the illusion of a massively huge space...yeah right. Well I think that it helps.
The library/loft ladder looks great on this stuff. The floor is a dark grey.
Keep going and eventually you end up with this:
All that's left to do is the final row which involve cutting the pieces lengthwise since a full width piece won't fit. Don't forget to leave a bit of space again. I'm pretty happy with the result and couldn't resist another shot or two of the library ladder on my flooring.
Ok, so now I just have to keep it from getting torn up in the subsequent phases of construction. Fingers crossed. I work pretty carefully though and the floor is not that delicate, so I 'think' I'll be ok. To help with this, I did get some foam mats (2 sets of these) to lay down wherever I'm working to protect the floor. I think that this will work quite well.
Only issue I really ran into was that a couple pieces didn't line up exactly and left little gaps between the boards. No big deal. They are mostly under where the kitchen will be. I may fill them with epoxy or over time these spaces may just fill in with some dirt, sand or whatever.
Total time to put this floor in was about 5 hours and was coupled with two aching knees.