Laying Down Laminate? Don’t Go Cheap on your Underlayment!

Laminate flooring has come a long way. Affordable styles at your local big box store can offer a 50 year guarantee on residential use. That’s a great guarantee. And, there are many more options on style than there used to be, so more people are considering this as their flooring option.

If you decide to go with laminate in your home, there’s one thing you need to remember: don’t go cheap on your underlayment! The underlayment is a mat that goes beneath the laminate and because it isn’t something you can see, it’s easy to be tempted by the cheapest roll on the rack. Don’t be deceived. The underlayment, if you select the right one, provides multiple benefits to you including:

  1. Moisture control/barrier – you don’t want moisture working it’s way up through the slab and into your laminate. It can reduce the lifespan and leave you with blemishes that aren’t easily fixed.
  2. Sound dampening – laminate has a tendency to give off a louder echo when you walk across it than softer materials like wood. It also doesn’t do much for absorbing natural sounds of the home. Your underlayment can mitigate both issues.
  3.  Structural integrity – a durable and resilient underlayment ensures a durable and resilient tongue and groove system.

laminate flooring tips


Bathroom Remodel Quick Tip: Tile Size & Orientation

There are a couple small things that make a big difference when selecting your floor tile and determining the orientation.

  1. The size of your tiles should be proportionate to the size of your bathroom. Most big box home improvement stores have a good variety of stock tile to choose from. But, they also limit the size options. This becomes problematic when they only offer 18″-24″ tiles and you have a small to medium-sized bathroom. Large tiles in a small bathroom won’t work because you don’t have enough room to create a discernible pattern. It’s really unappealing and can make the bathroom feel even smaller. If you can’t find 12″ or 8″ tiles at your usual home improvement store, try a specialty store that can order almost any tile you want in any size. The exception: if you have a large bathroom and plenty of room to show off 18″ tiles, go for it. Large tiles in a large bathroom can make a grand impression.

    Large tiles square to wall.

    Large tiles in a small bathroom can make the room feel even smaller

  2. Choose an orientation that gives the bathroom more character. Laying your floor tiles in a checkerboard orientation square to the walls is certainly the easy route because it requires relatively little detail work, but this shortcut will leave your bathroom looking plain. Want proof? Look at any public restroom and you’ll see the tile pattern that requires the least amount of handiwork. Two better options that create a more visually appealing aesthetic: turn the tiles exactly 45 degrees so they are diagonal, or offset the tiles in a brick pattern. This last tip is especially important for rectangular tiles.

    Tiles square to the walls

    Tiles square to the walls

Which of these flooring options appeal most to you?


Small square tiles in brick pattern


Square tiles in a diagonal orientation

Simple Bathroom Update for a College Area Home

We recently worked with a couple in the San Diego State area who needed to update their bathroom… desperately. The arrangement of the vanity, toilet and shower couldn’t change because of the small square footage and location of key pipelines. But, you’ll surely agree everything inside had to go.


Bathroom remodel (before)

Work done:

  • Demoed and removed all components, tile, door, and finishings
  • Knocked out an unneeded arch over the shower that closed it in and made it feel dark
  • Replaced the hardie backer for a new, moisture resistant backing on the floors and inside the shower
  • Installed new recessed lighting
  • Tiled the floor and shower (adding a much-needed shampoo shelf)
  • Replaced and patched drywall
  • Resurfaced the walls
  • Painted
  • Installed the vanity and toilet
  • Hung a new door
  • Attached all finishes


photo (4) Bathroom remodel - vanity

photo (2) photo (1)

All of their selections, including the tile and vanity, were in-stock at Home Depot making this a quick project.

They are very happy with the result and they know it will be a valuable selling point when they decide to put their house on the market.