We're finally, officially moving forward on the Phase 2 finish work.
But I couldn't just turn the entirety of the project over to the professionals... I had to do some part of this basement on my own.
After all, I'm allegedly writing a DIY blog.
Enter NuCore flooring from Floor & Decor.
NuCore (and yes, I'm going to keep capitalizing that C in the middle) is a "luxury vinyl" plank flooring product.
It looks a LOT like wood. It's waterproof.
And yes, you can install it yourself.
Why Vinyl Plank?Flooring in a basement can be tricky.
Basements can be cold, and they can be damp.
To avoid the cold, you'd prefer carpet, right? Cozy.
Of course, carpet and moisture do not mix... we've never had water in the basement, but we had visions of musty old carpet in the future.
We also have a 10-year-old and a 2-year-old, and we can essentially guarantee that there will be multiple catastrophic juice spills in our future.
Wood looks awesome, but it is pretty much a nonstarter.
You lose all of carpet's warmth, but keep the issues with moisture. Wood floors need to be able to expand and contract with temperature changes, and any water will warp and cup the planks.
So - how about those new wood-look porcelain tiles?
We have 2 friends who put tile floors in their basements - they look great, and obviously can deal with water like a champ.
That said... they are cold floors. It's a tile floor, in a basement.
Our 2 friends both have walk-out basements - so I have to imagine that the cold isn't as much of an issue, given that they aren't even really below grade.
This is how we wound up looking at vinyl tile. It's waterproof, and while it isn't as warm as carpet, it's warmer than tile.
|We started with the area behind the bar.
NuCore is a floating floor - which basically means it's not attached to your house in any way.
There's no glue, either - each plank snaps into the others using a tongue-and-groove system.
You slide each plank into place, whack it with a mallet, and move on.
Install the planks, moving left-to-right, until you reach the wall at the end of your row. Like a typewriter.
Then you cut a small piece to finish your row - and use that piece as the starter for a future row.
Not much waste.
Cutting the planks to size is pretty simple, too - just score it with a box cutter, and snap it over your knee.
|Wrapping around the bar... uh oh.
So, you lay it right on the concrete?
The version we chose (Driftwood Oak, with Cork Back) allegedly needed no underlayment - we could install directly on our concrete basement floor.
Our basement floor isn't EXACTLY level... but it's pretty close. There aren't any obvious pits or bumps.
What we DO have, is a somewhat unconventional floorplan.
For starters, there's a drink ledge/bar jutting out into the middle of the living area.
It's going to be great for extra TV seating, but it makes for a tricky flooring install.
I started with the area at the bottom of the stairs, behind the drink ledge.
I was happily moving along with no issues. until I noticed that the end of the bar was going to require an unconventional cut - a "notch" in the plank.
Even more worrisome - on the opposite side of the bar, I was going to have to work "up", instead of "down" when creating new rows... and NuCore doesn't like that.
|Success! But the poles are lurking...
So, I started a second section on the "right hand" side of the bar, working "down" towards my wrap-around piece.
I figured that I could meet in the middle... but this was going to take some meticulous measuring.
My first row on the left side of the bar had to start at *precisely* the same spot as the first row on the right side.
Somewhat amazingly.... we were close enough to make it work. I was about 1 mm off, but was able to "nudge" the left-side section into place with a mallet.
More Unconventional Cuts
|The poles slowed me up, but couldn't stop me.
They're going to be wrapped up in wood, with a craftsman-style "newel post" look.
That's going to increase the size of the poles somewhat - so I didn't have to cut the NuCore exactly flush with the posts.
I measured carefully... then used my angle grinder with a cutting blade. It wasn't perfect, but I more or less got the cuts where they needed to be.
I imagine that a pro would use a reciprocating saw.
But, I'm saving a ton of cash by installing myself.
So What Does it Cost?NuCore is a mid-range Luxury Vinyl product - the version we chose was $2.59/sq.ft.
So, we were in for around $2,500 for the floorboards themselves.
Based on multiple quotes, it was also going to cost $2,000+ to install the floor... so this is a DIY project that provided real value.
For $2K, we can buy the sectional sofa that's going into the basement living room, and still have some cash left over!
I'll be finishing the NuCore install later today.... have to stay ahead of the contractors who are installing doors and trim.
Here's how it looks right now:
|View from the TV, looking back at the drink ledge. Stairs to the left..
I'm also getting quite a bit better at laying the NuCore planks.... to the point that I'm half-considering lifting and re-laying some of Sunday night's work.
I probably won't... but it's frustrating to see how much better the install looks when you're well-practiced, and can appreciate the almost infinitely-small tolerances required for a perfect "fit".
Also, I definitely see the overall plank pattern - no two planks are exactly identical, but the same markings show up throughout the floor.
I imagine that F&D has a 15-foot repeating "wood pattern design", and then cuts 4-foot planks from that design. So a certain "knot" may be at the center of one plank, and toward the edge of another.
NuCore definitely LOOKS like wood.
I'm not sure how many different "prints" NuCore makes on different planks.... I'm not sure I've ever seen one repeat!
(So don't worry about seeing the same pattern of grain and knots over and over again.)
It installs easily. This is, literally, a "do-it-yourself" project. You, the reader, can do this yourself.
I can't speak to its durability - we'll be moving furniture around on it soon enough, and if it scratches easily I'll be disappointed.
It's waterproof, or at least "water resistant".
It's likely that a pro installer would have given us a more-waterproof floor - My install has the odd "bad seam", which is tight, but not PERFECTLY tight. This would appearto allow liquid to seem through. Still, it's waterproof enough.
If you're walking barefoot, it doesn't really feel like wood, but I'm not sure that's a legitimate gripe.
The floor feels like what it actually is - a textured vinyl floor.
That can mean that it feels "plasticky" - but maybe that's just because I know that it's vinyl. No one else has shared my "complaint" yet.
RE: underlayment -- There are definitely spots where our concrete floor wasn't perfectly level - And in those spots, there's a bit more "give" to the floor.
Again, not a dealbreaker... but it reminds you that you're walking on a floating floor product.
Ultimately, time will have to tell. But so far, we really like what NuCore has to offer.
It's has the look of wood, with some additional benefits (water resistance) that will come in handy in a basement installation.
So far - a pleasantly surprised THREE STARS.