The flooring we picked out was a cork-based tongue-and-groove plank, meaning it was 'green' as cork is harvested from the outer bark of cork trees and therefore a renewable resource, and it was relatively easy to install. We picked out the Millstead Smoky Mineral cork offered by Home Depot. It has a slight gray tinge to it, but retains some natural cork coloring and pattern. It pairs very well with both our slate gray wainscoating and the birch IKEA cabinets that we installed - a nice match between the light and the dark contrasts. After doing some measurements, we placed our order entirely online and it was delivered for free within the week to our front door (in the middle of another snow fall, of course). Luckily, I was at home and able to help get it into the house asap and David was able to come home quickly thereafter to get all of the cases unpacked and the planks stacked in the dining room to acclimate (and dry off, in some cases as some snow had gotten into some of the cases during drop off!). The awesome thing about this flooring is 1) it's a floating floor that can be laid directly over existing laminate, 2) it has a built-in underlayment, which meant we could skip laying a tarp-like thing underneath, and 3) the planks are individually sealed beforehand so we don't technically have to seal the floor once it's installed (we may still choose to do so simply because then we don't have to worry about water getting into the seams between planks and causing warping down the line). The other awesome thing about cork? 10-20 years down the line the next home owners can actually sand it down and 'refinish' it just like hardwood! Oh, and it's SO SOFT under foot! We had read that it was great for softness (without being a denting hazard) and noise reduction, but we were surprised how readily evident the softness feels just walking across the floor! I'm especially excited about this because I tend to get achy after spending long periods of time cooking or baking in the kitchen.
For the most part, the floor is done. We were able to lay the entire floor in 2 and a half days. We also put thresholds at both steps/stairways in the entry area and quarter molding behind the fridge and stove. (Quarter molding is required for floating floors because you need to leave a gap, in our case 3/8", between the floor and the wall in order to allow the floor to expand and contract as needed - so the quarter mold covers that gap between the floor and the trim.) Then we cleaned up, the in-laws headed home, and we left it for 48 hours while David worked. Wednesday, he rented a chop saw for a few hours and we were able to cut and install (almost) all of the remaining quarter molding, as well as one more threshold. The only things left to do are the two thresholds going from the kitchen into the dining and living rooms, both of which have hardwood floors and therefore we need to find a threshold that can transition from the laminate/cork plank height down to the hardwood, and then a few putsy spots in the entry way. All in all, I can live with those for awhile post-baby while we figure out what to do about them - at least the majority of the project is done!
Here are some before photos:
The cork, waiting to be installed. I think we ordered 18 cases (which included the recommended 10% extra), and we were left with only 3 full planks at the end of the project!
When we exposed the brick chimney last year, we also exposed some of the wood framework along the floor. Oh, and we had a family of mice that would crawl up the chimney from the basement and run around the kitchen - we got them with a single mousetrap along the right-hand side of the chimney, one at a time.
Weird shot of the entry area - from the main door, you step in and walk down to the basement or take a step up into the kitchen.
In progress shots:
Below is what we thought we had completed Saturday evening when we took off for a date night and left the kiddo with the grandparents.
Mia really wanted to help!
Pre-quarter molding finished:
A shot of the quarter molding:
Pictures don't really do it justice - it is beautiful!!