The worst home repair mistake I ever made involved installing laminate flooring. I thought it would be a simple fix to get a hardwood look. Not true! When all was said and done, I spent a little over $6,000 on my laminate flooring mistake.
Why Laminate? I went with laminate flooring because hardwood scratches so easily. I have children and two dogs. It seemed like a no brainer. It’s also cheaper than hardwood or tile when you figure in all of the costs. Carpet can be about the same price, but all it takes is one dog who can’t hold it and it’s never clean again. Laminate is really durable.
What Went Wrong? I bought one of the most expensive brands from Lowes. I decided to do my living room and kitchen. I spent around $4,000 on the flooring, padding, and a few tools. It was the click and lock type. I read all of the instructions and even watched online videos. I’m currently building a cabin and doing a lot of the work myself, so I’m fairly good with carpentry.
The first thing that went wrong was that I hate a big mess. I wanted the flooring laid in a weekend. I was exhausted after my work week and the first three rows, I forgot to stagger. That’s a big no-no with laminate. I had to take those rows up and throw them out because the click and lock edges didn’t look tight after being used once.
The next thing that went wrong was also because I was in a hurry. The subflooring in the house I had bought wasn’t even. Instead of replacing it (it’s not that expensive to do) I decided it wasn’t that bad. Big mistake. You have got to have extremely level subflooring or your floating laminate floor isn’t going to feel stable. Even a small rise or decline will show up when all is said and done.
We also had an issue with the joints of the laminate flooring. Six of the boxes we bought had damaged corners. Lowes replaced them, but it was a pain in the neck. We tried to use them but if the joints aren’t perfect, you won’t get a tight lock and it looks horrible. Also, even with a lot of attention to detail it seemed that the flooring we bought just didn’t lock correctly along the length which looks cheap. We ended up buying a filler and also using wood glue along each seam before laying it. That in itself is a lot of work; wiping each seam and so forth.
Another issue we had with our laminate mistake was our pets. The brand I bought was supposed to be great and not warp. My dogs are house trained but one of them had an accident when I was at work. I was gone for about ten hours that day. I cleaned it up when I got home and noticed warping. I hoped it would look better when it dried, but it didn’t. I called Lowes and told them I was upset and had just installed the floor. I literally ripped the entire thing up, loaded it, and hauled it back. I got a refund despite it being cut etc. If one accident caused warping, I could only imagine what years of kids, dogs, and life in general would do to the floor.
Fixing The Mistake: After all of that, I decided to never go with laminate again. I’m sure it’s worked out great for some people but I thought it was horrible. If the brand I bought was one of the best, I shudder to think what cheap brands are like. I ended up buying hardwood from Lumber Liquidators for about $6,000 dollars and it’s gorgeous. It wasn’t much more expensive and it will last forever. It does get a scratch here and there from the pets, but it just adds character and looks homey. I live in a cabin, not a castle so a few imperfections are completely fine with me.
My Advice: My advice to others, if you are going to use laminate, is to have a perfectly level subfloor, seal every seam with wood glue because whatever the packaging says; it will warp if it gets wet, don’t install it when your tired, stagger it (duh), and make sure you can return it if it’s not what you expected. In Lowes defense, they did refund all of my money and were really nice about it. They carried the product, they didn’t make it and the manager told me that sometimes they will get a substandard batch of something.