Everything Man

Random projects from an alchemist's workshop.

Saturday, 26th March, 2016

I’ve appropriated a nook in the basement to become my shop / makerspace / scrap depot. (Sidebar: why is “mad scientist” a thing, but “mad engineer” not?) When we bought the house most of the basement wasn’t wired for power, so the first order of business was to get an electrician in and add some outlets. I considered doing it myself, but a) I didn’t want to have to jump through all the hoops to get it permitted and inspected, and b) I’d rather not die or burn the house down. So electrician it was.

Next I wanted to do something about the floor. Originally the floor was covered in old carpet, laid directly on the subfloor. I didn't want to have a carpeted shop floor because it eats sawdust and chips and becomes dirty and uncomfortable pretty fast. I also wasn’t thrilled with the idea of getting rid of the carpet and working directly on the subfloor because it’s expensive to replace and I didn’t want to damage it. Clearly the next order of business was to refloor this corner of the basement.

I went browsing at Home Depot to look at flooring. My first thought was to do a linoleum floor, but it turns out linoleum is fairly expensive. My next idea was to use plywood, and sand and finish it myself (sort of like this walkthrough), but while plywood itself is cheap, after the time and materials spent sanding it smooth and putting a surface finish on it, it didn’t actually save me much. Plus the basement would smell like polyurethane for the next two months. The cheapest option, in terms of cost and labor, actually turned out to be laminate wood flooring.

So I went and got myself a carload of flooring materials, and left them in the basement for a few days to adjust to the temperature and humidity. While I was waiting I put in an LED shop light to give me a little more light to work by.

Pulling up the old carpet was easy, since it was only tacked down with staples around the edge. Putting down the underlay and taping up the seams was pretty straightforward as well. I started laying laminate along the long back wall and worked my way forward. It went like clockwork while I was in the rectangular part of the room. Even the funky-shaped bits went pretty fast once I got into a rhythm. The two most complicated pieces were the first row (because the wall wasn't perfectly straight) and the last row (because I had to rip a 2 inch strip off all my boards).

Once the laminate was all laid I covered the edge of the carpet with a metal transition strip. I didn’t bother to do any molding or baseboards around the edges, since the walls aren’t finished anyway. Given the before and after, I think we can rack this one up as a success. Next up, I need to build some work benches.

Original space
Flooring materials
Stripped back to subfloor
Underlayment finished
Laying laminate
Reflooring completed