Laying the floor

The Safari floor project is looking good.  I started at my desk around 7 a.m. and things were thankfully quiet, so I edited a couple of articles and shot off a bunch of emails asking people for things needed to complete the Summer magazine, and headed to the Airstream to work on the floor while awaiting responses.

Mike and I were able started laying floor around 9:30.  We found the process fairly straightforward, as long as we were patient with the tricky cuts.  The vinyl plank lays straight & true, and it’s easy to re-position the planks as they are fitted in place.

Staples in bedroomOne of the first problems we encountered was the staples in the bedroom.  These were under the carpet and they bulged up enough to mess up the planks’ adhesion.  Even when hammered into the wood they caused some slight disturbance in the planks, fortunately mostly under the bed where it won’t be noticeable.  In the rest of the trailer where vinyl was originally laid, Airstream used a different sort of metal connector that sits level with the floor, so it wasn’t a problem.

For the most part we have been able to slip the planks under the edges of furniture, which means there has been little trouble fitting the new flooring without visible gaps.  Where we couldn’t go under, it hasn’t been a huge problem to cut around things, and I bought some dark brown silicone caulk to fill in gaps if needed.  We’ll need very little of it, as it turns out.

Cutting planks2

Some of the planks have taken as much as 20 minutes to properly cut, test-fit, cut again, and finally adhere in place.  It can be a challenge to get one right (and we’ve had to abandon a few attempts), but when it does finally go in, it looks great and feels great.

The tricks are simple:  work from the centerline outward, keep a sharp blade in the knife, cut from the top whenever possible (there’s a thin layer that has to be broken on the top side), keep the floor clean, fit each plank tightly before pressing into place, measure twice & cut once.

Main floor doneAnother time-consuming aspect has been planning out the flooring so that we have minimal seams in high-traffic areas.  The planks fit so snugly together that it’s not really a problem to have seams, but we figured it would be nice to have a seamless space under the dinette table (where frequent sweeping is necessary), and in the entry to the bedroom.  So we adjusted the cuts accordingly.  In one of these photos you may be able to see where we collected a lot of cuts together next to the furnace; these will be entirely covered by the dinette seat later.

Today we worked a total of seven hours and managed to lay down about 3/4 of the trailer.  The front bedroom and dining area are done, and half the kitchen.  We’ve got to do the bathroom and a little bit around Emma’s bed tomorrow, which will probably take an hour or two because of some tricky cuts around the bathroom door frame.  Then we’ll caulk a few edges and move on to other incidental fixes in the Airstream before we start to put the furniture back in place.

This was the longest session of the project, and I can definitely feel it.  At the end of the day I had multiple small cuts and scrapes on my hands, I had pulled three small slivers out from under my fingernails (and several more from my fingers), my fingertips were covered with excess glue, and the kneepads were starting to feel like tourniquets.

The floor is nearly done but the work isn’t.  I’ve got to build a new threshold for the entry door, add L-channel supports to some undercabinet areas, re-plumb part of the kitchen, install a few pieces of trim, modify the chase that hides the furnace lines under the dinette, and then put back the dinette, master bed, and some other stuff.  We’ll be busy into the weekend, I think.