Laminate flooring sucks

I state this now: I will never use laminate flooring again. Ever. I don’t care how inexpensive and near-indestructable it is — the stuff simply is not well-designed and is far too cumbersome for one person to install alone. The need for a second person is ridiculous and if nothing else points out the usability of the product.

I’m ranting because I’m on night #2 trying to get this stuff into the basement while Alex and the wee one are out of town. I’m pulling long nights, spending virtually every moment downstairs wrestling with a Tarkett laminate we purchased a couple of weekends ago.

I’m trying to do this mostly as a surprise for Alex — finish off as much of the basement as I can, so that when she comes home the upstairs is fully liveable, and the main room of the downstairs is finally useable. It won’t be complete, but it’ll at least be a start. And we can start to live in this house, rather than merely exist.

The instructions printed on the insert with each box make it sound simple. This stuff is the “clickable” type, which means there are special hooked grooves that interlock. The idea is that once the stuff is down, it doesn’t separate and you don’t get the gaps common with ordinary tongue-and-groove types.

It’s a complete and utter myth. This stuff is actually worse than tongue-and-groove. Especially if you’re one person. When you lay down the first row, it’s easy — lay end-to-end, and they magically interlock. Done. The problems begin with the second row. According to instructions, you lay down the row end-to-end, and then slide the entire row into the previous one, completing the effect. In principle, it makes sense.

But it never works. Once you get one section of the row in place, another part pops back out. The interlock is tenuous. And you can’t tap it into place with a hammer. Although the floor is durable, the grooves are flimsy as hell, and are prone to breakage. I’ve got gaps everywhere. They’re not just unsightly, they’re highly annoying. I can already foresee cuts forming.

And no, I don’t have any friends I can call on. I’m doing this installation until well into the morning, and I can’t ask friends to stay up that late to help me. It’s simply just not acceptable.

That’s my rant. Next time, I’ll use engineered hardwood. Or the real thing. But I’m sure as hell never using laminate again. I wish the floor had been regular concrete…

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