Can I install my own flooring?

Can I install my own flooring?

Whether you’re in the midst of a full renovation or just replacing the flooring in a single room, it’s often tempting to cut costs. Homeowners sticking to a strict budget or business owners aiming to keep their total spend as low as possible may consider installing their own flooring to meet these goals.

Admittedly, some flooring types and installation methods are easier to DIY than others. But whilst it’s easy to watch a YouTube tutorial or read a wikiHow article, proper flooring installation often requires a specific combination of costly tools and a range of different skills to ensure the floor is installed safely and correctly and in a way that ensures maximum longevity.

Risks when installing glue-down flooring

Glue-down installation is a common method for installing vinyl and wooden floors, like laminate, engineered wood, and hardwood. It involves securing the flooring directly to the subfloor with adhesive and is a very stable installation method. However, as it’s such a strong method, fixing installation mistakes can be costly and time-consuming, often resulting in irreparable damage to the boards.

Gluing boards to the subfloor may sound like a simple task, but using the correct amount of adhesive is critical. Using too much adhesive can cause it to seep through the cracks or seams of the boards, not only making installation more difficult and time-consuming but also posing the risk of damaging the surface of the boards. On the other hand, using too little adhesive can compromise the safety and structural integrity of the boards. If the subfloor is not correctly leveled before the flooring is glued down, gaps can form around the boards, and they may make a clicking sound when walking across.

Why hire a professional to install nail-down flooring?

Wooden flooring options can often be nailed directly to the subfloor. Some vinyl products can be nailed down, but this is less common. Similarly to the glue-down installation method, nailing your flooring into place is a very stable solution, but it can be time-consuming and costly if you need to fix mistakes. Poor installation can also lead to gaps around the boards or a clicking sound when walking across them, as with the glue-down method.

Unsurprisingly, the main concerns with attempting to DIY the nail-down installation method involve the nailing itself. Using incorrect tools to nail down the boards can damage them, and this damage often can’t be repaired. If the nails don’t penetrate deep enough, the boards can get damaged, and the floor won’t be stable enough. Finally, incorrect nail angles or uneven nailing can lead to squeaky floors.

The problem with DIY floating floor installation

Floating floor installation is a popular choice for vinyl and wooden flooring products. For this method, the boards are snapped together and laid on top of the subfloor, ‘floating’ over it rather than being directly connected. If this process is carried out incorrectly, the boards may move underfoot. Not only is this frustrating for anyone walking across the floors, but it can become noisy as the boards rub against each other and may lead to quicker wear and tear. Floating floors can also buckle due to excess moisture in the subfloor, and a novice DIYer may not know how to check and rectify this before the installation.

Other problems with DIY hard floor installation

No matter which of the above three installation methods you choose, there are other risks present throughout the process:

  • Hard flooring planks, like those mentioned above, can expand and contract when exposed to temperature changes. Suitable expansion gaps should be left between each board to relieve some of the pressure from any expansion, preventing damage to the boards.
  • Imperfections on the underlying subfloor can lead to an uneven surface. Not only is this unsightly, but it also poses safety risks and will often lead to quicker wear and tear.
  • Hard flooring with a wood effect, such as vinyl and laminate planks designed to mimic natural wooden floors, should be laid carefully. You will usually be given a few different designs within a single pack of boards, and laying the same design too close together can ruin the natural appearance of the floors.
  • Not following the manufacturer’s guidance for your specific flooring product may void its warranty. If you’re following a visual online tutorial rather than direct manufacturer’s instructions, you may be going against their specific guidelines without even realizing it.

Can you install your own carpet?

Carpet has a unique installation method compared to other types of flooring, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to DIY. Before the installation begins, the carpet must adjust to the ambient temperature and humidity of the property and may expand or shrink accordingly. Starting the installation too soon before the carpet has properly acclimatized may lead to gaps or excess material in the final installation.

Misaligning the carpet or underlying padding can create hills or valleys on the floor, becoming a trip hazard and causing the raised edges to wear faster than the rest of the carpet. Aesthetically, you should take care when laying strips of carpet, as most carpet textures often face a specific direction and, therefore, should be laid in a way that ensures floor continuity. Failure to correctly join and seal each carpet seam will also result in a noticeable discrepancy in the finished floors.

Carpets can be easily damaged during installation and should never be rushed. Careless handling of the carpet can lead to staining, and misuse of installation tools can result in crushing or rips. Common concerns with DIY carpet installation are tears and runs, often caused by rushed trimming of the carpet’s edges.

Completing your flooring installation yourself may seem like a quick way to save some money, but that is rarely the case.

Enlisting the help of a professional flooring installer can reduce the risk of unexpected difficulties and costs while ensuring a safe floor that will withstand the tests of time. Have your floors installed correctly in the first instance to save additional costs, time, and headaches down the line.