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The Cheap Hardwood Floor Makeover Debacle - Engineered Hardware Floor Deinstall and Laminate Floor Install Through Home Depot

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The Situation

So we're going to sell our condo. We repainted, polished the marble, put in new carpeting - but the hardware floor was bleached, nicked, and faded. What would it take to pull out the existing and do a new install? Being able to put "new" on everything in the ad might bring in a premium in a hot market.

The Unknowns

The problem here is - we don't know what we're doing. What kind of flooring do we have now? Don't know. I thought it was engineered hardwood, but it's hard to be sure without knowing anything or pulling it up. The other thing is, we just painted all the baseboards - if they pull out the floor, we'd have to do it again. And not sure if the walls would get marked up as well - another repaint job.

Shopping Around

I went on the internet and did some research. We requested a couple of quotes, but didn't hear back. We noticed this sale on at Home Depot - free installation with new laminate install. Is there value in taking up bad engineered hardwood and installing new laminate? If we were going to stay, we'd go with engineered hardwood, but since we were moving, we considered laminate.

We went down to Home Depot. The lady assured us they could install the new flooring *on top of* the old flooring - as we weren't sure what would happen with the gap between the floor and the baseboards. Would they need to be moved? She didn't think so, but I was skeptical. I told my wife they would probably figure that out at the measurement.

The Measurement

So they show up to do the measurement. You'd think they'd be on the lookout for potential problems - but they're not. They're just there to do measuring. I asked if they needed to take up the previous flooring or install on top of - I don't recall a clear answer to this. I think he didn't commit - it wasn't clear at the time.

So I called the Home Depot and asked the question. The man there said he thought it would need to be uninstalled - that you can't install flooring on top of flooring. That's interesting, I thought. This made me nervous.

In any case, we saw a massive opportunity for saving money by uninstalling the existing flooring. How do you do that?

The Uninstall

You can try to crow bar it up. But once we took some up, we realized it was nearly impossible, as this was indeed engineered hardware - a kind of thin real hardwood veneer on top of a pine structure. I bought a circular saw. I made a *lot* of noise. I set the height of the blade wrong and set off the smoke detector.

I wound up with stacks of very heavy wood to try to get rid of. I went down on the weekend and found the green bin was empty. I put it all in the green bin. We were now living on a bare concrete floor. That nearly killed me.

Installation Day - Not Really

Finally, installation day was upon us. The guy shows up. First question he asks is, "Who leveled this floor?" It's a concrete floor, and he wants to know who was here prior to us ever having lived here leveling the concrete. I had no idea. "Do you have a blower?" He asked. What for? To blow dry the concrete he was going to put down to level the floor. They didn't say anything about leveling the floor in the measurement. Also, they would need to lower the baseboards by a quarter an inch. This created a mismatch in the kitchen, so they needed to install blocks on the corners. He said it would take 24-48 hours to dry (it was dry in less than 8).


So we had a leveling issue, and we had a concrete leveling problem - and the installation had not yet begun. Not only that, but his car wouldn't start. He asked if I could jump start his car, which I did.

He said he would come back the next morning and see if the installation could proceed.

More Problems

On install day plus one, the concrete had dried. He started to do the installation. Everything was proceeding fine. Until he pulled up some baseboards and found - mold. Once they find mold, they cannot proceed. We had to mitigate this problem and allow it to dry over the weekend.

Even More Problems

I can't recall why he couldn't finish on Monday - he didn't have nails, things were delayed. He came close to finishing on Tuesday, but some final work had to be done. Around noon on Wednesday, he says he's finished - but I'll need to call the carpet people to have the carpet tucked in, as he couldn't do that part.

Once he'd gone, we decided it was not a bad job. Until we found an area where the floor bent in - it would sink when you stood on it. The part that was leveled, wasn't leveled. We had to schedule another appointment to look at this problem, and then another guy came out. He fixed the problem, and we had to do more repainting.

The Results

In the end, we did get the floor not upgraded but cosmetically improved with the laminate face lift. Don't count on the installation happening on the install day. There may be problems. I couldn't imagine it before this, but if I did it in future, I would seriously consider doing the installation myself. At least that way you know what all the problems are and can fix them how you like.



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