I am in the process of getting divorced and recently bought a condo that needs to have about 400 square feet of carpet replaced (which is essentially the whole condo except kitchen and bathroom). I may turn the place in to a rental in the future and currently have a 20 lb dog, so I want something durable. I have been considering vinyl wood floors and am unsure of what type to get. I have a concrete subfloor/slab that is over 50 years old. I am worried that the subfloor will not be even when I pull up the carpet, as I can currently feel bumps/uneven spaces through the carpet in places. I also have tile in the kitchen and bathroom that is about 1 cm thick that I would like to match the level of the vinyl plank to if possible. As such I have several questions:
1. What kind of vinyl wood plank should I use - adhesive or floating? The floating kind seem harder to install and more expensive and I'm not sure what is better for my situation
2. What brands of vinyl wood plank are the best and where can I buy them/look at them in person? I live in Iowa and we don't exactly have a ton of flooring stores. I have looked at products from Home Depot, Lowes, and Lumber Liquidators but am unsure of the quality of these products. Internet review of Home Depot's stuff doesn't look good and I can't find much on the other two aside from the review on their websites, which I don't necessarily trust. I am hoping to stay under $2.50/ sq foot for the material if possible, but I'm not sure if this is realistic or if I will just end up with a cheap looking/performing floor.
3. What do I need to do to the subfloor to prep it? I have been told everything from 'leave it as it is' to 'lay a new subfloor on top of it'. Could I use concrete leveler to even out the rough spots? Will the thickness of the vinyl affect the install/wear over an somewhat uneven floor? It seems that such things would be less noticable through a thicker vinyl, but I'm not sure if that is true in practice.
4. How do I get the vinyl plank even with the tile? I have been told that I can build up the subfloor near the tile to make everything even and then slop the vinyl plank away slowly, so it's not noticeable. Alternatively, people have tried to sell me underlays to build it up. Will underlays work with adhesive vinyl plank or only with the floating kind? Is this true? Any other suggestions for how to level out the transition from vinyl plank to tile?
5. Do I need to put something under the vinyl tiles like a pad or plastic vapor barrier? The current carpet sits on the bare slab with just a thin pad in between and has no signs of water damage. Can I stick tiles straight onto the concrete or will they pop up if moisture comes through? My condo is on the garden level/basement (about 6 feet into the ground) so I am worried about moisture from the soil seeping in.
I am ripping out the carpet this weekend and will hopefully be working on the subfloor as well. Please respond ASAP as my father is in town to help me install only for a little while and I'm hoping to make a decision soon. I appreciate your help in advance!