If you haven’t read Part 1, that might help a bit…
Step 9: Catastrophe
My wife walked into the room and complimented my work.
That was not the catastrophe. In fact, that was the highlight of the day. She’s got a good eye for quality and is not afraid to voice concern, so her compliment was great to hear. Unfortunately, she also noticed that the floor flexed when I walked over it.
I tried to explain how that was totally normal until I quickly realized that I didn’t have a leg to stand on. I called Home Depot and asked to speak to someone in flooring. I talk to Scott.
It becomes clear that I had missed an important step in the process: leveling the subfloor and that I would have to fix it or risk long-term damage.
I reverted back to step 2, and stared catatonically for quite some time.
Step 10: Tear up floor, sob quietly while no one is around, level the subfloor
After going to Home Depot and getting what I needed, I came home and tore up the floor. This was several days of work that I was tearing up and it was brutally hard. Then, I started measuring the subfloor with a pair of levels to figure out the problem. Turns out that my dining room was about an eighth to a quarter inch lower than my living room and it was impossible to level. Instead, all that I could do was try to make the slope less steep and more consistently flat.
I floated the concrete filler on the subfloor and scraped it into place until I felt like it was level.
Then, I lay on the couch looking around the disaster of a room and seriously regretted ever starting the project. I also ordered Jimmy John’s and yelled at my mom. Then I apologized to my mom and enjoyed my Jimmy John’s.
Step 11: Replace the floor: not once, but twice
Now that the subfloor was “level,” it was time to re-install the bamboo. After I had installed about five rows, I realized that it wasn’t tight enough, and ripped it all out again. Long story short (if that’s possible at this point), I eventually finished the flooring. There was a short celebration / f-word session / prayer vigil when I surpassed the point that I had reached in step 9, then kept on trucking until it was finished.
Step 12: Pick out trim, moulding, and transitions
If you’ve ever installed base moulding or trim, you know that it’s simultaneously incredibly simple and incredibly difficult all at once. On one hand, it’s simply a matter of measuring, cutting, gluing, nailing, and caulking. On the other hand, the measurements and cuts have to be precise, the glue gives you strict time limits once poured, nailing offers risks to both thumb and trim, and caulking is both awful and messy.
That said, I only badly miscut one piece of trim, so I consider it a victory.
Also, there are more ways to transition between rooms than you have ever imagined. Also, only one of them will work for you. I recommend that you find yourself a Scott at your local home store. Mine was excellent.
Step 13: Reorganize and clean like you’ve never cleaned before
It’s amazing how much dust you can build up in one room. It’s insane. We vacuumed and dusted and polished and then dusted and polished more. Then, get all of your stuff from wherever you’ve been hiding it and get yourself organized.
Was it worth it? It might not seem like it.
But it was. It absolutely was.
First of all, there’s the cost savings. Between painting, pulling up the carpet and padding, having the waste hauled away, preparing the room, laying the floor, putting up the trim and moulding, and putting the room back together, we were looking at spending $6-9,000. Instead, I installed it myself for less than a quarter of that.
Second, doing the project yourself helps you to understand your house in a way that’s impossible otherwise. Basically, you’re taking a room apart and putting it back together. You can learn a lot that way.
Third, there’s that amazing feeling whenever someone walks in and says, “wow, this looks great!” Knowing that you installed it yourself makes you all the prouder.
So, yes, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Some key things to remember:
- Ask questions of experts at the home store. It’s what they’re there for.
- Make sure to carefully level the floor before you start.
- Make sure that you have the right tools for the job before you start. I used a circular saw, jig saw, measuring tape, pencil, rafter square, carpenter square, level, hammer, pry bar, spacers, pull bar, hammer block, saw horses, patience, and a sense of humor. An understanding spouse is not necessary but definitely made the process much simpler for me.
- Be careful with that double-sided carpet knife.
Especially remember number four.