There was a moment… before we ripped a single thing out of this house, and before the first paintbrush touched a wall. I stood in the middle of this grungy dated space, and I saw something beautiful. I could look around and see clear as day what this house was going to be. Not everyone could see my vision. Friends would swing by to see our new place, and they’d look around like we had lost our minds. To be fair, it wasn’t the kind of place where you took your shoes off, or touched anything that didn’t make you want to wash your hands.
Me: “Let me give you a tour!”
Friends: “Um, that’s ok… I’ll just look at it through the front door.”
Even the hubs, who was the one who actually convinced me we needed to buy this house, sometimes didn’t see it.
But I did.
And one of the clearest pictures I had in my mind was an image of beautiful, dark, rustic wood floors in every room, flowing effortlessly through the open spaces tying everything together. So when I tell you that the floors coming in was a big deal, I’m telling you I was so excited I couldn’t sleep.
The floors were one of the very first finishes we settled on. When it came to the kitchen, we poured over samples for weeks on end for every single surface, fixture, and finish. But we wasted no time with the floors. Just days after our offer was accepted, we met on my lunch break at a local flooring store just minutes from my office.
I have to admit, my stress level was already high. The past few days of back and forth and offers and counter offers had already stretched me thin. I don’t think I have even shared the fact that while we were in the middle of contract negotiations my husband got called out for an emergency job out of state. He had a job at the time that required lots of travel, and he and had to drop everything and get on a plane. Maybe you guys might have handled that kind of thing better than me, but I was on maximum stress overload.
Moving on to the next step in the purchase process didn’t take any pressure away either. Now we are on a time frame to try to close as soon as possible, and putting together a bid on the total cost of the renovation was part of the approval process for the mortgage program we chose. So walking into this flooring store with an hour to pick out the flooring for my forever home was not the experience I imagined it would be. I was already stressed and overwhelmed, carrying a binder overflowing with everything from mortgage pre-approval papers, to copies of contracts, to paint chips. I walked into that flooring store with the same, “let’s hurry up and check this off the list” mentality that I had thrown at every phase of the purchase process thus far, but stopped dead in my tracks two steps through the front door.
Poor hubby saw it in my face. I wanted to run out the door. I wanted to cry. There were so many options. Now, for someone not teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown, lots of options would be a good thing. But I was looking around thinking, there is no way I can narrow this down in the hour that I have, and I don’t have time to come back another day. I wondered aimlessly for a few minutes seriously considering just walking out. But soon enough, someone came over to help and things got much better.
There was criteria we knew going in that we’d be looking for, so we worked from there to start narrowing down our options. We knew we wanted a durable, moisture-resistant wood-look product. Pool, kitchen, active kid, 75-pound Labrador…. you get the idea. Hardwoods are out. We wanted something worry-free, low maintenance, and something that wet feet and paws could run across all the live-long day. However, I wanted it to have that gorgeous wood look. I had a ballpark price per square-foot that we wanted to stay in, and our Realtor had told us to make sure we looked at vinyl. Vinyl? Really? But honestly, I was amazed how far it has come.
The woman we were working with at the store told us that she has people come in all the time with no budget to speak of and an interior designer in tow, convinced they are there to pick out hard wood flooring… and they end up leaving with luxury vinyl planks. There was nothing in the store that compared to the look. The texture was gorgeous, and it was in our price range. And just like that we had settled on a material. It didn’t take long from there to narrow down colors and styles in our price range, and we left the store within the hour with two to samples to take home and choose between. We even picked out carpet for mini-me’s room and the guest room. Those will be the only rooms in the house with carpet. Everything else will be getting the luxury vinyl planks.
Here’s what we chose.
We went with a Shaw carpet with a plush, shaggy feel. The style is “Inspire Me” and the color is “Sugar Cube.” It has a mix of grays and whites and neutrals, and I feel it will really go with anything. Plus it is super soft and has a lifetime stain resistance warranty!
The vinyl we chose is from Earth Werks. The style is “Camden” and the color is “Wharton.” It has a 30-year residential warranty and is rated for wet areas. The durability factor was very important to us, so if you are looking to do vinyl planks in your house, be sure to shop around for a brand with a strong warranty behind it. Shopping at a local store that specialized in flooring allowed us to do this in one stop, versus the big box stores that only have a few options.
Now, we did not DIY the installation. The kitchen and the floors were two things from the get-go we knew we wanted to have professionally done. We wanted them to be perfect and last a long, long time. Sometimes you just need to know when to step back and let the pros do their thing.
That being said, I think the installation on the vinyl planks really could be a DIY gig.
You got a sneak peak of the prep work in my last post, but the first step was (obviously) to rip out all the old flooring. This is the cleanest this house has felt since the day we first walked through the front doors!
After all the old flooring was out, they came through with great big sanding machines and smoothed out the concrete sub floor. Because the vinyl planks are a thinner material, the sub floor has to be perfect. If there are any imperfections or debris left on the floor you will be able to see or feel them, and they will eventually cause damage to your floors. If you are DIY-ing your vinyl planks, don’t rush the prep work. It’s really the most important step for this type of floor.
The final step was to put down a leveling agent, which went down everywhere the vinyl was going. Apparently our subfloors were in pretty rough shape, because this took the installers an extra day and they had to leave to go get more leveler.
It had to dry for 24 hours. But when I came back the following day, we had floors! Finally I could walk barefoot in my own house!
After staring and obsessing over pictures and samples, there’s nothing like seeing the finished product. It is everything I imagined! And after all that work we did on the cased openings, the white trim seriously just pops against the darker color of the floor. I can’t wait to get the trim in the dining room painted!
Remember when I told you that our paint colors have a chameleon effect? Check out the difference in the kitchen color in the mid-day light (above) versus evening light (below).
Even though we chose carpet for the two back bedrooms, we carried the vinyl planks into the master bedroom. One reason was for the look of course. But the second is because that’s where puppy pants sleeps and she is not allowed in carpeted rooms. Maybe I’m a mean dog-mom, but those are mama’s rules. You have to do what you can to fight the good fight against the dog hair situation.
I also couldn’t be happier with the way the paint colors work with the floors. That vision I had in my head was finally coming together in real life.
This carpet is so soft and fluffy… mini-me and I literally rolled around on it the day it was installed (check out @thesteelfoxhome on Instagram if you don’t believe me).
Now that we have been living with it for a while, I can tell you that if I could go back and do it again… I would pick this exact same floor. It is so easy to clean and has held up to everything we have thrown at it (which has been a lot). It is also quiet. Unlike laminate, tile, or even wood, footsteps and puppy toenails do not echo. If you have kids and/or dogs you know what I’m talking about… like when you can’t hear the TV because it sounds like there is a stampede tearing through the house. Yeah, this floor doesn’t do that.
It is not a perfectly smooth surface like the laminate we had in our old house. It has a texture to it, which is part of what makes it so beautiful. On the downside, however, this does make it scuff easy if you drag anything across it. The scuffs come right out, but it’s something worth mentioning. Also worth mentioning if you are considering floors like these: they are very hard. This is a thin vinyl laid directly on your concrete sub floor. I would liken it to walking on tile (though it isn’t cold like tile). If I’m going to be on my feet for a while cooking or cleaning, I do need to put shoes on or my feet and back will start to hurt. Also, since this is vinyl- which is a softer material- if you drop something sharp it can puncture the floor. But all-in-all, we are happier with these pro’s and con’s than any of our alternate product choices. We absolutely love these floors… hands down.
I mentioned during the before tour that we were saving the bathrooms for later. The linoleum floors in the bathrooms are not glamorous, but they are in good shape and will work until we get to the bathrooms down the road. But when we do, these exact floors will be going in the bathrooms as well. Since they are smaller spaces, we may DIY the floors in there, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Luxury vinyl planks… what a time to be alive. At this point, the living room and the bedrooms are the first spaces in the house to be declared “done-ish.” Still some details to work on here and there, but they are officially ready for furniture. Since I’m a sucker for a good before-and-after, let’s look at some side-by-sides, shall we?
Working day and night on this little project for weeks and weeks, I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see it finally taking shape.
Up next: We hang our first thing on the wall, and it has it’s own little chapter in our story.
What do you guys think of the floors? Did we pick the right material?