Laying Floors in a 100+ Year Old Home Pt.1

Part 1: Removing old flooring and gathering materials.

So when my wife and I bought our house in 2013 it was pretty much all carpet.  This just did not do the rest of the house justice with all of its awesome wood trim.  In one overeager moment Laura and I decided to pull up the carpet in a room knowing there was hardwood underneath and begin a project to start refinishing it.

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Everything went great until we realized that someone had cut through the flooring in the middle of the room.  My guess was to access the craw space due to the lack of a decent sized access hole.  On top of that there were some bad areas that I didn’t think could be repaired.  The flooring was 5.5″ tongue and groove Southern Yellow Pine (Or so I was told, I am no wood identifying expert).  It ran the entire 17′ length of the room as one board , so patching the floor wouldn’t look right either.  Since it is softer wood, the main paths through the room were worn quite heavily as well and some huge 1/2″ gaps between boards.  Due to the age of the home, there is no sub floor underneath.  So we were getting some serious cold air up through those gaps in the floor from the unconditioned space below.

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This started a new discussion, where we went back and forth for months.  We knew at this point we were going to be doing new flooring, we also wanted the flooring to match across the entire house.  This meant we needed  3200sq ft of flooring + the extra 10% for waste, coming to a grand total of 3520 sqft.  That got expensive quick assuming at least $3/sqft if we got a good deal and I did the work.  We refuse to take out any loans so we started saving and looking at different types of flooring.  We basically decided on hickory if we were doing hardwood with a natural stain, or a similar laminate.  We needed something tough having two dogs (80lbs and 100lbs) and kids.

After months of going back and forth on the options we found a laminate we liked.  It was for sale and Home Depot.  It is TrafficMaster Lakeshore Pecan.  I think we would still have rather put down hickory, but we rationalized it based on the wisdom from our parents.  We assumed whatever we did now would be ruined by our family over the next 15 years and would take some serious abuse.   We can put down the nice stuff once our kids are older and won’t destroy it.  We bought a box, brought it home, and laid it out.  Once we were positive we liked it, I got a hammer and screw driver and beat on it.  It held up extremely well, it actually took some work for me to damage it.  So we had the money and it was time to buy it.

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I love saving a buck, so here is some advice when buying from Lowe’s or Home Depot:  On ebay you can buy printable 10% off coupons for about $1, the same ones you get when you get a forwarding address from the post office.  They get emailed to you instantly and you can print them off.  There are no Home depot coupons, but Home Depot accepts competitors coupons :).  They are one time use, but you can use them at Home depot an unlimited amount of times because they don’t scan them, Lowe’s is a one shot deal.  That alone slashed about $300 off my bill.  Order came in in a few weeks.  I also ordered some 6mil plastic for a vapor barrier and cork underlayment.  Unlike my hippie wife, I typically look for the best materials for the job not necessarily the most eco friendly.  Cork happened to be one of the few areas we were on the same page.  Cork can be bought in various thicknesses.  We got 1/4″ to help with the imperfections in our 100+ year old floors.  It ended up working great to even things out, absorbs tons of floor noise, it is naturally hypoallergenic, insulates the floor, and is a sustainable product.  My next post will cover actually laying the material.

Cost/sqft:

Laminate…………………………$0.79

Cork Underlayment………$0.64

Vapor Barrier………………….$0.04

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Total:  $1.50 / sqft

3 thoughts on “Laying Floors in a 100+ Year Old Home Pt.1

  1. Hi, I am considering the exact combination of lakeshore pecan and cork. Does the floor feel “springy” with that combination or does it feel hard like a wood floor? Since the laminate is only 7 mm would a 1/8 inch cork underlayment be a better choice? Also did you glue down the cork or just put tape?

    Thanks.

    1. The floor definitely has some more spring to it with the cork than say my tile. If my little son fell, I would much rather it be on this than the tile because of that. The floor doesn’t flex or anything though. I used 1/4″ to help correct some of the unevenness in my old homes sub floor. If your sub floor is in good shape I think 1/8″ would be enough. The nice thing about cork is that the thicker it is, the quieter the floor is, it also adds insulation.

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