Twice in six years I've ripped out the carpet in the house I rent out because of renter's pets. Would wood laminate flooring be less problematic? Could my wife, son and I really install it? How much per square foot should I spend?
Fletch ~ Decatur, Illinois
Fletch, unfortunately pets that are kept indoors can cause issues for all types of flooring, so you may be exchanging one problem for another when you remove your home's old carpets and install the new laminate flooring. On the bright side, laminate flooring will not retain odors and trap animal hair like carpets often do, but keep in mind that even the most durable laminates can be susceptible to scratch marks from claws and dirty paws. That said, if you are going to rent your house to pet owners, then a laminate flooring is probably a better choice for you than carpets.
Laminates are very straightforward to install, and many brands don't even require gluing or nailing, but rather the floor boards click and lock together and sit atop a foam under-layment. Often referred to as "floating floors," these types of laminates are simple to install, are available in dozens of styles, and usually don't cost that much. Although you can purchase some entry level laminates that cost about $1-$2 per square foot, you can expect to get a more durable product when you spend between $3-$5 per square foot.
Although you do not need many tools when installing a floating laminate floor, having access to a table saw for rip cutting some of the floor boards may be necessary. If you do not have a table saw, then a small circular saw or handsaw can suffice. When installing your new flooring, you should first remove the room's old base board trim, after which you can install the new floor boards about a half-inch away from the room's walls. It is common to lay the first course of flooring along the longest wall in the room, but you may choose to do otherwise, depending on which style of laminate you purchase.
If you will be installing your new flooring in a bathroom or a basement, make sure that you choose one that is approved by the manufacturer for these types of wet areas. Although most laminate floors are installed in basically the same way, if you want your new floors to perform as designed, you must follow all of the preparation and installation instructions that come with the specific product you choose. Good luck with the project!