Picking out the flooring materials for our living / dining / kitchen space was no easy task.
We knew the old carpet had to go. And it's really good thing we tore it up because we uncovered mold in a section of the hardwood that was underneath the carpet! Luckily, it was limited to about a 2x2 ft of space and it was easy enough for our contractors to cut that section out and replace it with plywood. But, I digress.
We loved the look of hardwood (duh) but we weren't comfortable with shelling out the amount of money it would take to install real hardwood. So we considered a few alternatives. Most people nowadays know about engineered hardwood, laminate hardwood, and luxury vinyl plank (LVP). Engineered hardwood is more cost effective than solid hardwood in terms of the material itself, but the labor required is about the same. Laminate flooring is also a cheaper alternative to solid hardwood and it's supposedly a lot more easier to install and maintain, and you can get laminate that really looks and feels like real wood, so we leaned towards getting laminate. We had several flooring companies come out to the house to measure the space and show us samples of laminates but we actually didn't find any that we truly fell in love with... And OK, at the end of the day, the floor is the floor and you don't really need to fall in love with the floor... but at the same time, if you're going to be spending a significant amount of money and time to redo the floors, then, you might as well find something you REALLY like. So we kept searching, and several people told us about LVP, which wasn't something I was initially interested in. But one of the sales people told Kevin that LVP is so waterproof that you could dump it in a swimming pool full of water for several days, take it out and use it like nothing happened. Needless to say, Kevin was sold. Laminate, on the other hand, is not waterproof (despite a lot of companies out there saying there are types that are very water resistant). If you were to drop something sharp and pierce the laminate layer on top of the MDF material underneath and get water in there, it would swell up and be damaged. It would have to be replaced, and good luck replacing just one piece of flooring!
So after several weeks of talking to different flooring companies and checking out samples, I found a few styles online from Shaw Floors and requested samples. Out of the samples that we received, the "Alto Plank, Terza Grande" was my favorite. It was a wide plank (8 inches wide and 72 inches long), 1/4" thick, with enough texture to mimic the feeling of real wood, and not too dark and not too light.
We ordered the material through a local flooring company and then scheduled a flooring crew to come out to do the prep work and install it. We picked up the materials from the flooring company and one tip for you if you order the materials and plan to pick it up yourself: find out how long the boards are! We were surprised when the flooring company employee opened up the back of the truck where our materials were stored and we saw these super long boxes and weren't sure if we could fit it in our car. Luckily, Kevin's Subaru Forester took it like a champ... but not before moving the passenger seat up as far as it could go with me still in it, and we had to make 2 trips. Then Kevin tore up the old carpet where the new stuff was going to go and I helped to take out the tacks and staples the day before the crew came. The crew spent most of the first day doing all the prep work of removing the old linoleum in the kitchen and dining area, cutting out and patching up the square patch that had the mold, scraping all the adhesive off the underlayment and leveling any uneven areas with a leveling compound. The specific flooring we got actually didn't require the underlayment to be level but hey, if you can, why not? At the end of the first day, they installed a few pieces of the LVP and we got a glimpse of what the end result would look like! Then they came back the next day and finished the whole living / dining / kitchen space in about 4 hours.
It has been about 7 months since the install and let me tell you, we LOVE our floors. They are super durable, and we keep them clean just by vacuuming and swiffering!
For those interested in the cost of the new flooring, the space that we updated was about 560 square feet (we left the rest of the house as-is for now since we're contemplating an extension on the house in a few years). The cost of the material was about $2550 (we got extra materials just in case) and the cost of labor was around $2700, so about $5250 total for 560 square feet.