Like many DIY projects, I think the prospect of installing new flooring can seem incredibly daunting to a lot of people. Also like many DIY projects, if you don't have the tools, time, or patience to do it well, it totally can be best to leave it to someone else! That said, if you have the time, patience to learn a new skill, and some friends to help/lend tools, this can be such a good way to fix up your space on a budget!
So there are a lot of amazing things about my house! It has a great side yard for my dog to play in. It has a great little deck where I can relax and barbecue. It's super close to work and friends and it's in a neighbourhood where I feel really safe! When I moved in though, it had the WEIRDEST floor situation. The kitchen had 60s-era sheet linoleum and the living room had the world's cheapest berber carpet that had been kind of poorly installed so it was unravelling at the edges and wherever the previous tenant had slightly damaged it.
The weirdest part though, was the line where these two flooring types met. It was an inexplicably curvy line.
This is a picture taken from the listing for the apartment on Kijiji so it's actually pretty flattering to the space. Believe me when I tell you the reality was worse. I lived with these floors for about 10 months before I decided I couldn't do it anymore. My landlord liked me as a tenant and trusted me to make minor repairs based on some of my other handiwork, so I pitched him a plan. I, with the help of my parents and godparents, all of whom had experience installing floors, would do all the labour for free if my landlord would pay for the new flooring and materials. He was into it (to be honest I think he just wants to keep me happy so he won't have to find a new tenant) and even had me go for a medium-quality flooring instead of the cheap stuff I'd proposed.
I spent about $1000 CAD (of my landlord's money) on laminate flooring, foam underlayment, PVC quarter round (so I wouldn't have to paint it), and a few other odds and ends. With the help of my incredible parents and godparents we were able to rip up all the original flooring, remove all the staples from previous carpets, install all the new flooring, and finish it in just two days!
This type of flooring clicks and hinges down as you install each piece and is actually incredibly easy to install once you get going. The hardest parts were cutting the pieces that needed to fit around corners or inside closets and honestly? Ripping out all the staples at the beginning.
The basic process is as follows:
Remove the existing flooring, as well as trim if desired
Remove any vestiges of the original flooring including nails, staples, and tack strips from carpet
Clean the area as much as possible to ensure a clear surface
Lay foam underlay across the entire floor, securing with the built-in adhesive at the edges and seams and stapling where necessary
Beginning in a corner and running perpendicular to the floor joists in your home if possible, lay the first row of wood against a wall, cutting the last piece to fit
Using the excess from the last piece of row 1, or a new piece you trim down, start the next row so that the seams are offset from one another, then repeat each row in the same manner.
Cut the last row of boards length-wise to fit in
Reinstall any trim/baseboards/etc. including quarter-round to hold in the new floors
I honestly think that with enough time to practice and get comfortable anyone can do this. Just remember to take your time and finish it properly, even if it means cutting one little sliver to finish a row or trimming around a corner properly. The extra work is so worth it!
Here's a before and after to check out the insane difference it made in the space.
I think the improvement is evident! I think the lesson here is really that one change can completely transform a space. If you've been putting off a project because of the work involved or the fear of learning a new skill - take a weekend and try it. Watch some videos, read some instructional guides, and then get your hands dirty.
Finally, please indulge me very briefly while I talk about my philosophy on rentals and decorating, improving, and styling them. I've had so many people ask me why I put so much energy and time into a place I only rent, into a place I only intend to be for a couple of years. And even before I redid these floors I've always had people ask why I spent any amount of time or money settling into places that were objectively temporary. In university I once bought a whole slew of Christmas decorations including a table-top tree for an apartment I knew full-well I'd only be living in for four months. You know what? I don't regret a single minute of effort or penny spent. Whether you are living somewhere for two months or two decades your house should be a home. It should be your solace and a place you can find peace and happiness regardless of what's going on outside. If you have to spend a little money on the right piece of furniture, do it. You can always sell it, swap it, or repurpose it when you move on. Don't be afraid to nest a little bit, wherever you are - trust me, your happiness and comfort at home will be well worth the mess.