New Laminate Flooring

Several months ago, I was finally able to complete a key component of the new workshop: installing the laminate flooring. 

There are quite a few options for workshop flooring, none of which are perfect. Wood, engineered wood, vinyl, laminate, OSB/plywood, and epoxy just to mention a few. All of them had their own drawbacks. Wood or engineered hardwood would (solid tongue twister) most likely run into issues in an unconditioned workspace such as mine. Epoxy is harder to install than the click-and-lock vinyl or laminate options. OSB/plywood doesn’t look great and would likely require a sealant of some sort to prevent tear out.

I took the pros and cons into consideration for all of the options and ended up deciding between vinyl and laminate. Both options would work for my needs in the small workshop. Both would be decently appealing if we sold the house, as they are decent looking if the space became an outdoor office or similar. They are both relatively durable and would be okay in the unconditioned space (there’s some mixed feeling on this but the consensus seems to be that they’ll be fine). In order to make the final decision, it obviously came down to the most important detail.

We did not skimp on the vinyl or laminate samples.

That’s right, the final decision came down to aesthetics.  I also liked that the laminate was slightly thicker than the vinyl options. This should help keep the floor slightly more comfortable when standing for long periods of time. I may also end up investing in some rubber mats for comfort.

After choosing the laminate color, it was time to work on the installation. I began by going through every foot of the floor and checking for creaks in the subfloor. Wherever there was a creak, I added a screw through the subfloor into the floor joists. This should keep the floor nice and quiet. Not a huge deal in a workshop where I’ll be running drills and saws, but good to do nevertheless. The subfloor was relatively level to begin, but I also took the opportunity to fill in some larger gaps with self-leveling compound. Once the prep work was complete, I could get down to business installing the floor.

You can see the leveling compound between the subfloor joints, and the 3/8″ spacers along the wall.

The installation process was pretty straight forward. Click each board into place, keeping a ⅜” spacer in between the floor and every wall. The key was making sure to begin and end each row with a board longer than 8”, and to avoid 2 seams ending within about 6” of each other. I forget the exact limits from the instructions, but you get the picture. 

It was definitely key to have a miter saw during this install. Being able to measure out the needed length and then cut it quickly on the miter saw cannot be understated. Another key was a fantastic Christmas gift that Allyson had given me right before this install: a Bosch laser measure (not an affiliate link). With the laser measure it was a simple click of a button to get the needed length of my last board before the wall. I could then pop on over to the miter saw and use the laser measure to get an exact reading on the saw blade. It was a huge time and effort saver!

The installation process took almost a full day. Not bad considering it was my first time doing anything like this. One of the most time consuming parts of the process was trying to avoid repeating grain patterns. There wasn’t a ton of variety across the boxes of laminate that I bought, so I spent a lot of time making sure to keep repeating grain patterns several rows apart whenever possible.

My police lineup of the different grain pattern options.

All in all I am extremely pleased with how it turned out. The floor feels pretty comfortable underfoot, although I will need to be careful with sawdust on the ground, as it can get a bit slick. It also looks fantastic and really fits the space well. Getting the floor installed was a huge step and I am starting to see the completion of the workshop in the near future. I can’t wait!

New flooring! I’ll definitely need to be better about cleanliness though.

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