Back with the latest installment of the basement renovation progress. Now that we had done the demolition, framing, insulating and drywalling, we were onto the far more exciting stuff. First up were the floors. Before we had even started our renovation, we had decided on laminate wood floors. We decided this for a few reasons:
1) Wear and tear. Laminate is a really durable product. Because we are going to be renting out the space, we wanted to be sure that we were going to be putting down a floor that could take a little wear and tear, but still look great. We knew that carpet would stain easily, and it also tends to collect dust and keeps smells.
2) The look. Laminate has come a long way since it first came out, and it now looks really great. I used to think all laminates looked cheap and artificial, but today’s stuff is actually quite lovely.
3) Cost. The all-important factor throughout this renovation. We simply didn’t have the budget to do real hardwood. Laminate is a great budget-friendly alternative.
However, before we could lay any laminate down, we needed to build up a sub-floor. We were down to just the concrete, so laying laminate straight on top of that isn’t an option (it would be susceptible to moisture and wouldn’t feel great against your feet). There are quite a few sub-floor options out there. You can get products that are all-in-one and super easy to lay, but you pay for them. Since Dan is a pretty handy dude, and we were always trying to save a buck, we decided to use a combination of a few inexpensive products, which give the same result with a bit more work.
The first product was something that essentially looked like a big roll of black bubble-wrap (with extra-huge, non-poppable bubbles). This was to act as a moisture barrier. We bought two big rolls, layed it out and cut it to size.
On top of the moisture barrier went some sheets of OSB (“oriented strand board”, which is compressed strands of wood arranged in layers). The OSB was cut to the right size, placed on top of the black bubble wrap and then screwed down into the concrete underneath.
Screwing down the OSB sheets became a little more fun, since we had an industrial fan in the basement from the drywallers (to help the walls dry faster). The fan would rotate and just about blow each of us off our feet. So what did we do? What all good renovators would do: Take a break and take funny pictures infront of the fan. Man, were we ever howling. Oh, the little things that will brighten up a day of basement renovations!
Finally, to finish off the sub-floors, we had to put down a very thin layer of a white foam (came in a roll). This is really just to make the laminate feel softer and more squishy against your feet. No screwing down required — it was just a matter of laying it straight on top of the OSB.
Now, onto the piece de resistance. The laminate. We had originally chosen a middle of the road laminate from the Home Depot, which was about $1.50/square foot. This would have cost us just over $1000 to cover our 650 square feet. Then, on a non-flooring related trip to Rona, we came across some lovely laminate on sale. Usually the stuff on sale was the lowest end stuff (that we didn’t love the look of), but this laminate was something else. I fell in love instantly. The combination of wide-planks and the warm, golden colour did it for me. And the price tag? A mere $0.68/square foot (!!!). Our final bill: $550. Amazing right? We certainly thought so.
To lay it, it was a “floating” system where all of the pieces clicked in together. Going through doorways or into the small spaces like closets was a little tricky, but Dan (and our friend Andy – thanks buddy!) did a super job laying it down. It took about 3 days to get it finished. And my goodness, did it ever transform the space.
This was definitely one of the most satisfying projects of the reno. It’s amazing how much a great floor can transform the space. Stay tuned for the rest — we’ve got paint, the kitchen and the bathroom up next!