When it came to flooring, we would have loved to have been able to afford hardwoods, but that just wasn't going to happen. And it wouldn't have been a good splurge since we aren't going to live in it for years and years (fingers-crossed). And wall-to-wall carpeting was just NOT an option in my book.
This lead us quickly to laminate hardwood. Not the really nice stuff either, which is still $3/sqft. We needed something around $1/sqft. That's hard to come by. Lowes has an aisle of laminate and as you walk down it you pass the $3/sqft (which looks really really good!), then you pass the $2/sqft (starting to look not-real), then you get to the $1/sqft stuff that they hide at the end of the aisle out of embarrassment. By itself, it really didn't look THAT bad (not for $1 anyway). It was fine.
Then, I took Matt to our local IKEA for his first visit (yes, we had a "date" to IKEA, complete with a coupon for a free dinner!). Our goal was to pick out some indoor lighting (mostly kitchen). We also happened to notice the laminate floors they had in their showroom. It was Antique Effect and it was installed in a mock-living room. It looked way better than what Lowes had. And it was still around $1/sqft. I was sold.
I love how the wood image (laminate is a picture of wood printed on to a composite material) is a wide 6 inch plank instead of two 3 inch planks printed on one piece.
We didn't buy it that day. I came back by myself for some crazy reason. It would have taken forever to plan a time when Matt could go back. I had taken measurements of our house and did the math to figure out how many boxes of flooring I needed (28, but I bought two extras just in case). I also took measurements to make sure I could fit them all in my jeep's cargo area with the seats folded down.
I went straight to the IKEA warehouse, by-passing all the showroom stuff. I grabbed a cart and started loaded boxes onto it. Holy crap, these are heavy! The packages aren't even that big. I had my cart and started loaded and quickly realized not only can I not load all 30 by myself, but they won't fit in one cart. And I can't push the cart with that much weight because of the poorly engineered wheel design.
Thankfully, a worker came to help me and loaded the remaining 20 boxes and pushed the heaviest cart to the check out and left me like this:
One cart weighing over 300 lbs, and the other weighing over 600 lbs. I had to pull them along, and tell people to watch out as they rolled to the left and right uncontrollably. Oh, and the rolls of white stuff are foam sheets that go under the flooring to help with leveling and sound absorbing. Our total for flooring was just over $1,000. Sounds like a lot, so I can't even imaging how much a full sized house with hardwoods would be (upwards of $10,000 I would guess).
IKEA has a loading zone, so I didn't have to load them all by myself. But driving my Jeep home made me nervous. Stopping at red lights was interesting. I felt like I was driving a semi. I had to be very careful and really pushed some yellow lights because I just couldn't stop in time without 1000 lbs slamming into my dash and me (that kinda happened once).
Now, they are sitting in our garage waiting until after the subs come back to install everything (lights, faucets, etc.). We are waiting until after they are done to install the floors so they don't get scratched up.
*Update: check out the finished floors here and here*