Unsquare walls. Feel like a dummy. Need advice.

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Brlymeguy

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I'm trying to lay a laminate and have found that the walls are kind of wonky. The main, long wall that I am staring on measures close to the same on both ends, but it is curved inward slightly in the middle. Almost a half inch difference in the middle than the edges. I guess I will obviously need to cut my boards to follow this curve, and while that's not a huge problem, my issue is wanting to make sure that even after I do that, the floor runs straight to the eye across the room. The other wall has the same issue, so both the first and last rows will need to be cut to account for this crookedness. I just don't know how to make the first row straight, so that the rest of the boards will be straight until the last cuts on the other end.

I was thinking the answer may be a chalk line, but I already laid the underlayment, and not sure if it would work on it. I have a little laser somewhere I believe. I still don't know how to make sure the straight line runs totally straight to the middle of the room or the eye. Any advice to make sure my first few rows will run straight, regardless of the angled-cut edges? Save a dummy! Ha.
 

Brlymeguy

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To be a little clearer, I have seen methods of starting a plank's width away from a crooked wall and assembling several rows of flooring. Then, going back and scribing the edge planks to the shape of the wall for a perfect fit. Seems like it would work great, but I want to be sure those few rows of planks I assemble are straight with the room themselves, if that makes sense. I know that if those rows are even slightly crooked, it'll be more noticeable when I get to the other edge. My brain tells me to just measure from the opposite wall and mark a straight line, but then again, that wall isn't real straight either. Is there something extremely simple I'm missing? Am I overthinking it? I just don't want to end up having a slanted floor across the entire width.
 

C.J.

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Establish a straight reference line to go off of. Rack up a few rows (3 or more) and then you can move them around where you want them in reference to the room, making any adjustments necessary. When you have them where you want them you can click some scrap pieces in at each butt joint and fasten them to the floor. Then you can back fill, or just regular ol install, without having things move around on you. Once you have the majority of the room installed you undo the scab pieces and backfill the rest of the install to complete
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Brlymeguy

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That’s the thing. I’m not even sure how to mark a straight reference line. I’m now seeing how hard I made it on myself not doing this before laying the underlayment with the handy gridlines, which follow the crooked wall and are now worthless. If I could get a straight line, I could get the job done, but how do you come up with the reference line if all the walls are slightly out of square? Good thing I’m on the beginner forum, because this is probably so simple to you pros, but my head hurts. Lol
 

C.J.

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Get some string and a couple nails. Taking some measurements from an exterior wall is usually your best bet. What’s the longest exterior wall you can reference? Come out 6” or 6’, doesn’t matter, from each end of your longest walk and place your string line. Now you can check measurements with the rest of your layout and make adjustments as needed. Once you’re happy with how things are you can even fasten some scab boards to the subfloor to start your installation off of if you don’t want to just wing it. This way you know you have a straight line that you can firmly bump off of. Otherwise you can rack up a few rows and fasten scrap pieces to it and go from there.
 

C.J.

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Maybe an exterior wall isn’t the best point of reference. Maybe you are shooting down a hallway and want to center it up there. Either way, a string and a couple nails will let you fiddle with checking your layout and can easily be adjusted as needed. Once you have things where you like them then you can snap a chalk line, fasten scab boards or just start racking up rows and going for it.

My front wall has a bow in it so I pulled a line based off of each far side of the wall. Snap a line and fasten scab boards that I can then bump off of.
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Brlymeguy

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Yeah, I had heard the longest exterior wall should be the most straight, but it is bowed in the middle. With a row of planks across, there are gaps on the end boards that show how noticeable the wall’s bow is. The other long wall has a protruding closet, so don’t think I’d be any better off starting there either, especially since that wall doesn’t seem straight either. If I can just get a reference line to get the majority of the room straight to me eye, I should be able to make it work. Problem is, will a chalk line work on top of this underlayment? That’s why I think I screwed up not getting a reference to begin with. I naively thought since all these walls were recently re-built after some water damage remediation, they would be straight. Ha. Yeah, no.
 

Brlymeguy

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I think I get it now. If I can just have a reference that helps the floor pass the eye test, I will be satisfied. At this point, it’s just giving the floor the illusion of straight I guess, because there may not be a true straight will all out of square walls. If chalk doesn’t work on top of this underlayment, is there any other option to get a line? Could I just use a laser level?
 

C.J.

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For your layout I would prolly just rack up 3 or 4 rows, slide it up close to the exterior wall and scribe a row to fit the bow in the wall. As long as you’re not majorly off somewhere, you’ll never know once the room is put back together.
 

Brlymeguy

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For your layout I would prolly just rack up 3 or 4 rows, slide it up close to the exterior wall and scribe a row to fit the bow in the wall. As long as you’re not majorly off somewhere, you’ll never know once the room is put back together.
I think that’s what I’ll do. Man, I sure appreciate your help. I’ve gotten so lucky in the other 3 or 4 rooms I’ve put floating flooring in before. I was younger and didn’t worry as much, and it miraculously ended up pretty square and straight. Thought I could wing it again here, but quickly learned I had a problem. I know if I can get it lined up decently and get that first row, it’ll be a cakewalk. Thanks again!
 

MikeAntonetti

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I used long straightedges against exterior walls to see if baseboard had any wonky changes. I use to go outside to view the exterior walls, see if there was a jog that would throw off square to rest of house.

I also had a laser square I would set up and slightly adjust into place to jive with squareness to perpendicular walls. I could maintain square throughout entire house from reference lines, around walls going back to reconnecting flooring. Tools/equipment made the work quicker.
 

highup

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You mentioned concern about getting a straight line on top of the underlayment so you could get a row straight and scribe it to fit.
Don't put the underlayment down. Snap a chalk line on the floor and line up your boards where you want to then scribe and fit that first row.
Now it's time to disassemble that first row and put a piece of blue tape on each one to number them 1 2 3 4 whatever. Set the boards aside, sweep or better yet, vacuum the floor one last time, and now put down your underlayment. Nothing is going to change when you put that first row of boards back against the wall.
 

highup

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I used long straightedges against exterior walls to see if baseboard had any wonky changes. I use to go outside to view the exterior walls, see if there was a jog that would throw off square to rest of house.

I also had a laser square I would set up and slightly adjust into place to jive with squareness to perpendicular walls. I could maintain square throughout entire house from reference lines, around walls going back to reconnecting flooring. Tools/equipment made the work quicker.
I never owned any of that fancy laser equipment. I guess the green ones are the ones to buy?
I've never even seen one in operation. My biggest concern would be how precise the line is. If it's 1/8 in wide and it's kind of fuzzy looking that would drive me nuts. Though you can't snap it, I've used wax linen carpet thread to make my lines and measure off of.
When it's pulled nice and tight, you can draw flawlessly centered lines every 4 to 6 ft and use your straight edge to connect the lines together. The line is more precise than a fuzzy chalk line but it's not often that you need that kind of precision.
 

C.J.

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If it's 1/8 in wide and it's kind of fuzzy looking that would drive me nuts.

You need to look into Tajima chalk-rite chalk lines. They’re the cats meow. Yes they’re $30+ but they are worth it. Someone snagged one of mine on a job site some years ago and I was pissed. Mfrs.
 

MikeAntonetti

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Exactly what I was going to saw. Thin blue line sound familiar? Tajima period.

I have a couple, one I spent maybe 700$ on, the line was hard to match up to my pencil mark under it, this one came out years later and offsets the line, it worked extremely well, saved me lots of time and the work was more accurate. I could go around walls and bring flooring back together, granted I measured a lot to ensure product stayed in place. The laser lines I would tap the edge of the laser unit to bring the line exactly on the mark however many ft away. It worked great for checking square along all the walls measuring in various places. Then you can strike the line and the entire job would go off those lines, you don’t measure off walls anymore to get your lines, you can check them but initially if you’re correct, then walls are off, your flooring has to remain straight(plank) or square (tile)

it could be used for rolls of carpet to check for square cuts or pattern runoff.
 

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Mark Brown

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You need to look into Tajima chalk-rite chalk lines. They’re the cats meow. Yes they’re $30+ but they are worth it. Someone snagged one of mine on a job site some years ago and I was pissed. Mfrs.
Know whats kinda funny..... i was wondering WTF is that, so I googled it, turns out i own two of them. They really are great.
 

Brlymeguy

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You mentioned concern about getting a straight line on top of the underlayment so you could get a row straight and scribe it to fit.
Don't put the underlayment down. Snap a chalk line on the floor and line up your boards where you want to then scribe and fit that first row.
Now it's time to disassemble that first row and put a piece of blue tape on each one to number them 1 2 3 4 whatever. Set the boards aside, sweep or better yet, vacuum the floor one last time, and now put down your underlayment. Nothing is going to change when you put that first row of boards back against the wall.
Like I said earlier in this post, I realize I messed up by not checking things out first, but I already went through the trouble of putting the underlayment. Sucks to learn by mistakes. What I did, though is I marked the center of each short wall, lined up a complete row of boards and drew a straight reference line with a pen on top of the underlayment. After adding parts of a few more rows, it looks fairly straight to the eye. With seemingly every wall being slightly crooked, maybe this is as good as it's going to get. The end boards will be about 1/2" narrower at the end of a 20' distance on one side. More like a 1/4" difference down that majority of that wall when you consider there is a pretty decent bow at the starting corner. The adjacent wall, the boards are running fairly straight on.

I also have a little laser pointer, and I lined it up with the tiles in the previous room's doorway and ran it across, which gives another reference., and this runs fairly in-line to the straight wall. I did think about shifting the line to the right just slightly so that both ends will have measure a slight difference from start to finish. Maybe this is what should be done? Hopefully what I've got will be decent enough that I'll hardly notice. I may play with it a little more before I get the first row where I want it. I know once I get that row done, the rest will be easy.
 

highup

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Yeah you might check it again but remember when you install floor and there's no furniture in the room. Without furniture in the room a quarter of an inch looks like a mile depending on where that quarter of an inch is.
 

highup

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You need to look into Tajima chalk-rite chalk lines. They’re the cats meow. Yes they’re $30+ but they are worth it. Someone snagged one of mine on a job site some years ago and I was pissed. Mfrs.
To be honest, I never thought there was such thing as a quality chalk line. I thought Stanley was it.
Or this gem.

 
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