When we purchased our 90’s home here in Perth almost 6 years ago, one thing I didn’t like about it was the flooring. Grey tiles in the main living areas and orange toned laminate flooring in the bedrooms. I longed for matching floors throughout and something more warm and inviting so I would no longer need the 16 floors rugs scattered around the house that my poor husband despised so. 2022 was the year that my longing was no more! The year that we took on our largest home DIY to date and installed AtroGuard laminate flooring throughout our single storey 4×2, 158 square metre home.
SELECTING THE FLOORING
Starting the selection process for a renovation or new build can be overwhelming. Even as an Interior decorator with 17 years experience, I still find making selections stressful as there’s just so many products out there to choose from! So when when first started looking at laminate floor options, I began by scouring Pinterest and Instagram to see what others had in their homes. I quickly realised that I was drawn to American style homes which had oversized boards and more rustic style timber looks for their floors. I also knew that I wanted a finish that was very neutral and wouldn’t throw any yellow or orange tones. And so, the design we settled on was from the stunning Aquasmart Whitsundays range in finish ‘Hamilton Oak‘. Using the Atroguard floor visualizer tool on their website, we were able to upload images of our home to sample the finish before committing to it which was very handy. The colour is a beautiful grey/brown and even though was a finish I didn’t think I would go with at the start of this selection journey, it really has ended up even better than I could have ever imagined and is the perfect flooring for our home.
Flooring. Check ✔️ A colour I knew would go with existing finishes, furnishings and decor pieces in our home, and a size that I absolutely love!! At 238mm wide x 1800mm long, these boards are big! As in taller than my 6ft husband big! Using larger boards means less joins/lines which gives the illusion of more space, making the rooms look larger which is something I really wanted for this house. And at 12mm thick, the boards are super stable, supportive and of amazing quality. Unlike some laminate flooring, there is no flex in these planks which makes them easy to handle, cut and install. Some of the other features that ticked the box with the Atroguard AquaPlank® flooring for us are:
- Easy to install V groove locking system
- Water resistant for up to 24 hrs. Can be wet mopped
- Impacts indent, stain, scratch, slip, fire, wear & fade resistant
- AC4 commercial grade quality
- Ultra stable core giving 60% more stability
- Lifetime residential warranty (12 years light commercial)
- Eco friendly – 0% plastic
TO DIY OR NOT TO DIY
I wouldn’t be The DIY Decorator if I didn’t install the flooring myself right?! Getting someone in to install our flooring would save us a lot of time, yes. But it’s quite a cost and one that we didn’t want to outlay. Although we had limited flooring installation experience, we were confident that we could successfully complete the job. Previously to this project I had installed laminate flooring when I did my shed-to-studio makeover and the flooring in the kids cubby house. Both small spaces and a different type of flooring, but it gave me the general idea of what was involved in the DIY flooring process. And my husband has experience in kitchen installation so is handy on the tools and good with the tricky measurements. So between us both, we worked our way through the installation process. We took our time. Learnt as we went. Made mistakes. Cried a little when they were bad ones… BUT, we got it done!
As we were extremely lucky that our existing flooring was level and in excellent condition, we were able to leave it in place and go straight over with the new flooring. This cut out the cost and mess involved in removing tiles which is such a huge job! The AquaPlank® flooring is perfect for this style of flooring project, being able to be installed over existing hard flooring.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
We started out with pretty much none of the tools required for this project and slowly gained them as we went. So if you are looking at undertaking your own flooring install, here’s what you will need:
- Laminate flooring underlay
- Sliding mitre saw
- Jigsaw (& plenty of spare blades!)
- Laminate flooring installation kit
If you are leaving the existing skirting as we did, you will need something to cover the gap around the edges between the ends of the boards and skirtings. We used quarter round painted white to match the skirting. Or you could use scotia. For this, you’ll need liquid nails and nails to hold it in place.
The first step obviously is emptying the space. Living in the home and having to move 6 years worth of items in and out of every space, along with the house being in a trashed state for weeks was honestly the toughest part of this project for me!! #OCD. If you can do this project prior to moving in to your home, I would highly recommend! Once your room is empty, it’s cleaning time. The existing flooring needs to be dirt, grime, bacteria free before installing the new flooring as you don’t want any nasties trapped in between the two layers which can lead to issues down the track. Using a RubberMaid Reveal Power Scrubber with grout cleaning attachment, I spent a weekend giving the tiles, grout and area around skirtings a really good clean. I then mopped using a disinfectant floor cleaner and vacuumed the space.
Next up, underlay. This needs to cover the entire area where the laminate flooring is being installed. Note that you can not overlap this otherwise your flooring will not be level. We found it handy to masking tape the lengths of underlay together to stop any movement while laying the planks on top. And then begins the laying of the planks. We started at the furtherest left point at the front of the house which was our master bedroom. From there we went forward and right until each room was done. You can not work backwards with this flooring so this is the best way to do it. It’s very important to ensure that you leave a 10mm gap using spacers (provided in the flooring installation kit) between the wall and the flooring allow for expansion.
When it came to the layout of the boards, we didn’t use a specific pattern but it was my job during the process to keep an eye on the individual boards pattern repeat (I think there was 5 patterns for the Hamilton Oak design) so that the same boards weren’t beside each other. We laid whole boards when we could, making sure ends didn’t meet aide by side. This process of laying the boards is simply measure, cut, install. Repeat, repeat, repeat. The boards themselves are super easy to cut with the sliding mitre saw. And clipping them in is just as easy. It’s simply a matter locking the boards together by dropping the second plank into the first planks grooved edge and gently tapping down the end with a rubber mallet so it firmly locks in place. These areas where it’s straight laying, are super quick and easy! It’s when you get up to a door frame or up against a walls that it gets trickier and you need to use your noggin a bit more…
When we got up to door frames, we couldn’t cheat and cut the frame itself to slide the board under as some people do, as we have metal door frames. Not timber. So we had to cut around the door frames. There’s no fun or easy way to do this. It’s probably the hardest part of the project for an amateur floor installer. I’m sure the professionals who do it all the time find it easy. Mind you, the existing laminate flooring in the bedrooms were quite dodgily cut and my husbands cuts/gaps were a lot neater and tighter! It’s simply a matter of measuring the shape of the frame, drawing that shape on to the board and cutting with a jigsaw. We did try the popular (but not exactly professional…) DIY template hack we saw on Instagram. Which did actually work, but I would suggest using it as a guide and still double checking your measurements before cutting.
Once all the boards were down, we filled any gaps around door frames with silicone. We went with a grey to blend in with the flooring. And we then covered the 10mm edge gaps with the white pre-painted quarter round/skirting. We also added in transition strips between the new flooring areas and bathroom which we didn’t install the boards over so were different levels. We used ripple roberts for a smooth transition between the floorings. And lastly we had to trim the internal doors to fit over the 12mm plank as the underlay which were removed at the beginning of the project. We did this with the jigsaw. And that was it! A whole new look for our home that we can proudly say we achieved ourselves. With my husband working away, it did take us a few weeks to complete the project but we really enjoyed chipping away at it and seeing the results form before our eyes!
Would we tackle a project like this again? Absolutely! 1000% worth it. Do we wish we had hired someone to install it for us? No. We know we saved a bundle doing it ourselves and can now use that $$$ to go towards other home projects. Are we happy with the Atroguard AquaPlank flooring? Extremely happy! We are blown away by the quality of it. The beautiful look and finish of the Hamilton Oak design. And the ease of installation. We know it’s added not only to the visuals of our home, but the value of it too.
For stockists of the Atroguard AquaPlank flooring range, head to the Signature Floors website for stockist store locations, Australia wide. These retailers can quote for your project and answer and other queries you may have about this range. To follow along with our install process, head over to my Instagram page highlights.