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Hard-ache Floors in Hawaii

While hardwood floors are by far my favorite look, I opted out for two reasons; cost and climate.

My home, before renovations.

I purchased my first home in 2018 when I moved to this island of Oahu. A 760 square foot, two bedroom, one bath condo for $400,000. Let me tell you, Oahu is expensive. Not only is land expensive, but handyman services are expensive too. My kitchen faucet had a leak in it last fall and the plumber wanted over $600 to replace it. This island has really taught me to take matters into my own hands, watch some youtube videos and figure it out myself. I've replaced my faucet ($50 DIY), switched out electrical outlets, cut water pipes, replaced cabinets, installed an over-the-range microwave, and installed base boards. But this blog is about flooring.

First things first, I knew I needed to replace the floors of my new home while it was still empty. Don't let the above image fool you, that carpet was 30 years old, and needed to be replaced. Climate and cost kind of went hand-in-hand, I wanted hardwood floors without the hole in my wallet and something that could withstand this tropical climate. I picked vinyl flooring from Lowes, SMARTCORE Pro Glendale Pine Luxury Vinyl flooring. Why? Vinyl floors are great for humid climates, they have a huge variety of designs and colors, and they are easy to install yourself. These floors don't swell, crack, or peel when exposed to water, and these specific planks don't require additional material underneath them because they are already built with four layers. I picked Glendale Pine because it was a rich wood color that was subtle yet warm. I'm in love with it. I also always shop at Lowes or Home Depot in Hawaii for home projects because you get the main land prices and no shipping costs to pick up in store.

As for costs, I had to find floors I could do myself. I had reached out for a couple of quotes from handyman services around island, and they were on average a little over $5,000 for just labor for removing the carpet and installing the new vinyl floors. On the mainland it ranges around $2.50 per sq. ft. so that would be close to $2,000. I get it, Hawaii's cost of living is very high, but I couldn't afford $2,500+ for materials ON TOP OF $5,000+ for labor. So in exchange for food and shelter, my best friend helped me install these floors every night after work for two weeks. We watched a ton of youtube tutorials and borrowed some tools from a friend.

The minute I got the keys, I was ripping up the 30 year old carpet. I had half of the carpet ripped up before I picked my best friend up from the airport the same night. I was in a rush only because I was about to be in the field for a month for work.

The carpet went quick, although the hardest part of this project was peeling the wood boarder that was nailed into the concrete all around the house. We used a steel crowbar and a rubber mallet to pry it out of the concrete.

Once the carpet, the foam layer, and the nailed down wood was all removed, a Shop-Vac and a few brooms were used to clean up all the dirt stored underneath for the last 30 years.

Picking a corner of the house to start the flooring was stressful for me never having done floors before. We picked a corner of the living room first, working our way towards the front door, the kitchen and into the hallway and each bedroom. I left the bathroom and kitchen untouched because I had other plans for those areas.

We started off cutting the boards with a miter saw, but I realized that if you just use a ruler and cut the board with a utility knife, you can snap the boards very easily without getting the toxic chemicals of the boards in the air. We still used the miter saw and jigsaw for corners.

The corners and door frames were my least favorite, and took a few tries to get the cuts perfect.

But eventually we got past it! And got to move into the bedrooms.

Once the floors were finished, we of course celebrated with food and beer. But after that, my best friend and I replaced all the electrical outlets with white ones. And for Christmas, my parents came out and assisted me with putting up baseboards.

In my future posts, I'll talk about my closet doors choices, partial kitchen renovations, and my full bathroom renovation.

And in the future future, I still have so many plans. First things, I want to get rid of my popcorn ceilings. I dream of renovating my washer and dryer closet, renovating the bottom half of my kitchen, installing new windows, and improving my closet storage. I won't get around to all of that before I sell the place, but for now, I'm finally at a comfortable place.

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