DIY Floor Installation – 90 Degree Angle Follow Up

Q: The direction of existing (not changing) wood in kitchen/fam is from left/right. The other rooms are having new wood. Please notice I said rooms not area – – I like rooms with doors and with wood floors changing direction away the wood being places from the doorways rather than across the doorway.
So, I am thinking about (please speak freely) the wood floor from the front door, straight in, until it meets a line from “A” through “B” (a structural 5 x 5 column, probably square) to “C”. This will allow an opposing straight in direction for the kitchen, a diagonal across the dining rm so the Music/Liv is the long way, the hallway to be the long way from “C” all the way into the powder rm, and the office to be opposing straight in from that door.
I have read about window light vs floor direction – – am I in opposition to that? For a herringbone join, will some tongue and groove have to be recut? Is the 60 degree from A to B a problem? It is not 45 degrees. Also, is a third way to make this direction change slant cuts at direction change?


A: There is a bit of complexity to the installation method you suggest. From a DIY standpoint I would honestly suggest never trying to do work this complex unless you have relatively extensive experience with flooring or you have immense patience and time.
This type of work is possible, but I would suggest sectioning your floor off in very specific sections. Most of this follows your plan, but I would suggest using a 45 degree angle for simplicity. To get a truly flowing appearance, you will need to mate up each directional change. The other alternative would be to build a border around each directional change, but this will remove a flowing appearance similar to the difference between a direct change versus the herringbone change I discussed before.
Here is the sectioning I would suggest. You can keep a diagonal in the dinning room area and I would extend this area from the sliding doors all the way to the far wall where the entrance to your kitchen is. For your other border I would suggest drawing a line parallel with the wall where you marked point A going through the support post. For the hallway (C), the music/living room and the area between the walled in heater ducts and the support post, run this all in the same direction, parallel with the windows. Finally allow the office and the area along your stairs at the front door to run parallel with the stairs. The trouble here will be planning and executing the installation.

For transitions in direction you can carefully line up planks so that the rows flow as your directions change, but this will be difficult. Once the planning is done to line these planks up you can either simply cut the planks and install them, or you can carefully cut new tongue and groove sections using a router bit to marry up the directional changes on your planks. I would highly suggest keeping your diagonal area at a 45 degree angle as this will make the transition process easier.
The difficult area will be around the support post. Here you will have multiple directions all coming together. You will have the diagonal meeting two directions of flooring, so this leads to a few choices. The easiest way would be to extend the planks directly away from the diagonal in its appropriate direction (toward the front door or down the hallway/music room. This would leave you with a small area with a herringbone transition or you can allow this to be one area with a direct change.

For your office, I would suggest a direct change in a threshold area of the door as this will be the most simplistic change, but you could also do a herringbone transition. Keep in mind you will be doing this transition from both sides as the floor will continue on toward the powder room.
Keep in mind this project as a whole can be done to look very unique, but it will be a lot of work and a few headaches. Now, you can simplify it by not worrying to much about marrying the planks together so that each row does not seem to flow as the directions change. Also, with a few carefully laid borders you can section off each area of flooring, which would require much less work to get the various direction differences, but as I mentioned before this becomes very obvious and less of a flowing appearance. You can also use transitions to cover some of the gaps here, as this would work similar to a border between directional changes.

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Seattle – Some re-entry photos

I flew back into Seattle recently and looked out the window at some stunning scenery so I grabbed my camera (although I think I wasn’t supposed to use electronic devices) and snapped a few shots:

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Laminate Stair Nosing

Q: I have recently had laminate flooring installed on my stairs but I must say I think something is wrong. The stair nose is not flush with the tread and it is extremely uncomfortable to walk on not to mention it looks terrible. The nose piece overlaps the tread and stands much higher than the tread. Is this standard procedure for stairs or has the installer done something wrong?
A: With laminate floors an overlapping stair nose is very common as very few flooring manufacturer’s build a flush stair nose for laminate. Although these noses overlap the difference in height is very little (usually 1/16” or so). If the difference is height is much more than this, it could be improperly installed or perhaps the wrong nosing for your particular floor.
The difference in height between the nosing and the tread is pretty important here. Most overlaps have a very slight difference which should not be overly noticed when walking over, but large differences could lead to potential trouble.

DIY Floor Installation – 90 Degree Angle

Q: If I install in the direction of the homes entry, but when that runs into the dining room (no doorway, just runs into it) I would like to change directions across the middle of the dining room and then run out into the music/living room ( it is an L shape overall, with the shorter piece being the entry.
Can I use the Hand Rubbed without a transition piece at the 90 degree direction change? Does the slight up and down surface of this wood present a problem with direction changes?

A: Depending on the product you are installing will depend on how easy this project will be. If the flooring you intend to install is a tongue and groove floor (which most hand scraped wood floors are) then this will be a relatively simple install with a few options on how to make this directional change work.
With this floor being hand scraped/rubbed/sculpted you will have the variance in height along the floor, but this should not be so extreme that it makes a directional change transition impossible. The big choice to consider here is what method you will use to make this transition. There are two common methods to make a 90 degree transition in the planks of your floor: directly meeting the next direction or herring bone.
Here is a quick sketch I did to show the two types of transitions you can do during your installation:
Installing at a 90 degree angle
The herringbone method weaves the planks together creating a gradual transition between the two directions where as the more direct method is an abrupt transition but tends to work very well in areas without a partial wall or door way.
Either method will work for your room and it becomes a matter of personal choice as to which will look the best. Personally I am a fan of the herringbone method as the transition is a bit more gradual and allows for some design aspect if you want to get really flashy, but the direct approach is much less work and planning from an installation perspective.

Mullican Chalmette Provincial Hickory – Glue or Float?

Q: I will have two questions:
1) I will have Mullican Chalmette Provincial Hickory Engineered wood installed. Have you seen this laid down up close? Does it look real? I have only seen the store sample and it looks very nice, but it’s so hard to tell from such a small sample.
2) It will be installed on a slab foundation. Right now there is very cheap laminate flooring that does not look good and will be pulled up. I have asked several people and get different opinions on whether to float it or not. Some say it will feel and sound more solid if glued. Others say it will not have a clicking sound if floated and this is the better method. I don’t want to float if it will be noisy. What do you think is the best method on a slab? And would it be possible to reuse the pad that is probably under the cheap laminate (whatever it is)?
Thank You,
Chris

A: Mullican’s Chalmette hand-sculpted collection is a great engineered floor. I have not seen this specific floor installed up close, but I have seen several Mullican floors and they look real simply because they are. Unlike a laminate floor the top 1/8″ or so of these floors is the actual wood species and the hand sculpting is real as well. Laminate which is a picture, will repeat here and there, but the Mullican product you have is actual wood, meaning you see real variation in the grain and some slight difference in the shade of each plank, just like you should see in any real hardwood floor.
Now let’s talk about installation options over your concrete slab. The method of installation you choose will depend upon what you expect out of your floor. If you intend to place heavy furniture like an entertainment center or bookcases on the floor you should have this floor glued down. Floating floors are great, but not suited for heavy furniture. Now all hardwood floors will have a bit louder sound to them as you walk over them compared to carpet, but any floor which is solidly anchored like nail down and glue down floors will have a more solid sound. You can also get a better sound from floating floors which have high quality underlayment. If the sound of the floor is very important to you, you can do a process which is done in condos. First get a cork underlayment (only cork should be done this way), glue the cork down then glue your floor over the top of the cork. HOAs have strict requirements for sound when it comes to flooring in a condo and this is usually the only way most Condo owners can get a non-floating hardwood floor installed.
If you do not intend to have heavy furniture in this room, floating can work very well, but to get the best feel out of your floor it is critical that you used a good underlayment. The issue with the Mullican floor is that it is a tongue and groove floor, meaning that you will need to use a tongue and groove glue to properly connect the floor together. Basically put, you will lay a small bead of glue into the groove of each plank then install the next plank ensuring the glue properly spreads around the entire tongue of the plank being installed. When floating any hardwood I highly suggest using a very dense underlayment, 6mm cork being the best bet, as it minimizes the springy feeling of floating floors which gives the feel of a nail down hardwood. 6mm cork also removes a great deal of the clicky or hollow noise in floating floors, making them sound solid, but typically not overly noisy. Keep in mind that if you install you floor using the floating method you MUST use a moisture barrier along with your underlayment – if you do not your warranty will be instantly voided.
If you are having this installed by a professional who is experience with glue down floors, gluing the floor will be your best bet overall as it will be better suited for heavier furniture. If you intend to install this floor yourself I would highly suggest avoiding a glue down floor at all costs as they are the most likely installation type to fail when done by your average DIYer.

Noisy New Floor – Pergo Wynwood Oak

Q: I purchased Pergo’s Wynwood Oak flooring, and had it installed by my handyman, who does awesome work. This was in a basement, and the concrete under the original carpet had heaved a bit, so he and his partner spent two days grinding down high points and laying leveling compound to even the floor out. They probably didn’t get it quite perfect, but they definitely just about killed themselves trying. This is floating click-together flooring, and we used Pergo’s Softseal underlayment per the instructions of your sales rep.
Anyway, they’re all done now, and the floor looks great, but I’m definitely hearing some snap, crackle, and pop noises as I walk around. Also, there is one spot where I can see they did not get the subfloor level, as the pergo moves when I step on it – just slightly but I can see it.
What would you suggest? My sister, who had similar work done by a friend who is a professional installer, tells me that he says SOME popping noises will happen until the floor settles. But I read on your site that it’s a sign of problems to come – though the question I read seems to be a case where the floor was not properly installed to begin with, and I really think my guys did everything they could do to prep this floor. Should I be concerned? Should I have something done with that low point? How can it be fixed without ripping up the floor?
I saved some of the Pergo for repairs, so if that low spot can’t be fixed without tearing it up, I will probably just wait until there’s a problem and have it fixed then.
Thanks!

A: With any floating floor you will have some movement in the floor. Typically 1/32″ of movement is well within tolerance although at times more movement can be within tolerance. Underlayment is a big factor in reducing the amount of movement you will see/feel in a floating floor. Pergo features 3 stages of underlayment, all of which will do the job, but some prevent more noise and movement than others. Your particular underlayment is great for the job, but like most foam underlayments it cushions the floor rather than reducing movement.
Most of the movement you are encountering is due to the floor set up you have – a floating floor over a foam underlayment. Now as the floor move some noise can occur, if very load or excessive noise is occurring then there can be cause to worry. This type of noise would happen across the entire floor and if the movement was significant (about 1/8″ or more). Some noise does tend to occur as a floor settles, but after about 2-3 weeks if you are still getting the same amount of noise there is a strong chance something has gone wrong during installation or the underlayment being used is not dense enough to be effective over your subfloor. Pergo’s Silent Step is a better choice over concrete because of its density, but not necessary.
As far as the leveling is concerned, underlayment for floating floors will typically remove variances of up to 1/16″. Anything beyond this is a matter of leveling and if your crew did a significant amount of work it seems unlikely this is a subfloor issue, but checking the level across the entire floor and searching for holidays in the concrete is important.
The great thing about floating floors which have a locking mechanism is that you can remove the flooring and reinstall it with a bit of care and patience. Now this is assuming that no glue was used in the locking mechanisms, as it is not required, but some installers will use it to act a moisture seal in kitchens or similar environments.
I would check with the folks who installed your floor if this noise does not lessen after having the floor in for about 2-3 weeks. If this is the case, it may be best to remove some of the flooring and then check the subfloor and underlayment. You may need to change to a dense underlayment like the Silent Step or something like cork to help remove this noise and movement.