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Do it Yourself Flooring: 5 Things you NEED to Know

March 13, 2020

Thinking about starting a do-it-yourself flooring project? We get it! You’re handy, you’re clever, and you’ve got the internet at your fingertips! So a DIY flooring job should be easy, right? 

Wrong.

Look, we know this is a big sticking point when it comes to replacing flooring. The DIY flooring thing can be super appealing, and it looks glamorous and simple on TV (what, you think that just because we’re flooring people we don’t enjoy HGTV? For shame).

And yes, do-it-yourself flooring can save you money and—in some cases—even be fun! But don’t believe everything you see on TV.

DIY flooring replacement can be awesome. But it can also be an absolute disaster. Which means that before you decide to tackle a project with any type of flooring, you need to learn as much as you can about the DIY process. 

That’s why below, we’re going to go over the 5 things you absolutely NEED to consider before starting a do-it-yourself flooring project. Then, we’ll give you the inside scoop on which flooring options are ideal for a DIY flooring job. You can thank us later.

Your do-it-yourself flooring checklist: what you need to consider:

If you do decide to replace your flooring yourself, here’s what you need to do in order to make sure everything goes off without a hitch (or with as few hitches as possible).

1. Do your research

We can Not. Freaking. Stress. This. Enough. Home improvement websites, blogs, and websites like Pinterest and YouTube can be absolutely invaluable. 

But even more importantly, don’t just search for projects that went well—find the bad ones too! Learn about all the things that can go wrong with a do-it-yourself flooring project. By learning from other people’s mistakes, you can develop a plan for how to handle or avoid them yourself. 

Example: did you know that any flooring material with organic components needs to be left in its intended location for a few days to acclimate prior to installation? Otherwise, it’s liable to warp and buckle after it’s installed. See? Research! And definitely something to consider if you’re trying to choose between tile vs. laminate or any other types of flooring.

laying wood parquet glue down

2. Invest in the right tools for a DIY flooring job

Any do-it-yourself flooring installation project requires tools, and many of these tools are expensive. Consider exactly what you’ll need to purchase for the project. And even more importantly, be sure to use that information when budgeting out your new floors! After all, there’s no point in looking up the pros and cons of cork flooring if you don’t even have the means to install it in the first place. 

Remember: the right tool for the job can be absolutely invaluable. If you actually want to save time and money with your DIY flooring replacement, make 100% sure you have what you need. 

3. Assess the skills you already have—and the skills you need to learn

laying tile with spacers

Be practical and realistic about your skills. Do you really feel comfortable cutting different types of tile on a tile saw? Are you sure you can get your hardwood floor cleaned and finished correctly? Be very honest with yourself about what you can do, and don’t take risks that could cost you even more money. 

4. Understand the margin for error in any do-it-yourself flooring project

Installing your own flooring can be harder than you think. Some flooring will forgive your mistakes, and others never will. Almost all wood flooring types, for instance, require careful installation that takes humidity, temperature, and subfloor concerns into account.

Make sure you think through the risks and rewards before you begin any home improvement project. If the thought of not getting things right makes you cringe or if you’re worried about a disaster, just hire a professional. No one will judge you.

5. Choose the proper material for you

Carefully consider what qualities you want your do-it-yourself flooring to have. Does it need to withstand heavy traffic? Do you need waterproof flooring options? What about allergies? Whatever your needs, you need to choose the correct types of flooring for you—something that’s usually made much easier with the help of a flooring dealer

Whatever you decide, here are some of the most (and least) DIY-friendly flooring options:

Vinyl: a reasonable DIY flooring project

Hammering in LVT vinyl floor with mallet click-together flooring

The best vinyl flooring styles include sheet, tile, and planks. If you decide to go with a snap-together vinyl product that uses interconnected planks or tiles, it can be a relatively easy project. It doesn’t require special equipment or tools like other flooring materials, but you will need a saw, mallets, etc. 

Laminate: also a good do-it-yourself flooring starting point

Laminate can take any color, pattern, and appearance. It’s almost always sold as click-together flooring, which, like we said, doesn’t require as many special tools or superhuman skills. Plus, click-together flooring is generally installed as a floating floor, meaning you don’t have to rip up your existing surfaces to install it. 

Cork: on the easier side to install

Many of the best cork flooring options are also relatively easy to install. You can choose peel-and-stick cork tiles or click-together cork boards. Again, you won’t need any expensive tools or special skills—just a nice even subfloor

Carpet: think long and hard about this one

You may think you know all about carpet, but carpet continues to change and evolve as a flooring material. If you want to install carpet in your home, picking out the right color and material is only half the job. More importantly, you’re going to have to research the best pads, materials, seam irons, installation methods, you name it. 

And with carpet, subfloor matters a lot. It may be easy to install carpet over a wood subfloor, but what about concrete? When it comes to ease of installation, carpet is near the bottom of the list—so if you’re choosing between carpet vs. laminate or another click-together floor, make sure you pick wisely.

trying to cut carpet

Our advice? If you’re doing your first DIY flooring project, just invest in some peel-and-stick carpet tiles from Home Depot or Amazon. Carpet tiles give you the best of all worlds… a flooring that’s warm and inviting, easy to install and easy to replace if damage occurs.

Tile: one of the most difficult do-it-yourself flooring options

Remember when we mentioned margin for error? Tile can be kind of complicated, and installation is really hard work. Cracked, lifting tiles can ruin your floor and create a mess that’s hard to repair.

Plus, installing tile floors requires cutting tile on a special saw, spacing it, grouting it, leveling it… if you feel that your risk tolerance is lower than your skill level, you might want to call a flooring pro for help. 

Hardwood: difficulty depends on what you choose

You really can’t go wrong with most wood flooring types. Well, you can’t go wrong as far as the material itself is concerned. It looks great, it’s easy to clean, and it’s great for your resale value

But… hardwood flooring may not be the best choice for a first-time DIY flooring project. While it can be installed as a snap-together floating floor, other types of hardwood need to be glued or nailed to a subfloor. And whichever choice you go with, there are a lot of things to consider as far as humidity and temperature are concerned. 

And given the higher initial investment, we’d recommend finding a flooring dealer in your area for help. Or, learn more about the pros and cons of hardwood flooring here. 

Bamboo: pretty similar to hardwood

Bamboo flooring installation is quite similar to hardwood flooring installation. Some options come as click-together flooring, while others require special tools like flooring nailers, rubber mallets, saws, etc. Check out our complete guide to the best bamboo flooring to learn more. 

Conclusion: DIY flooring can be great, but consider if it’s worth the hassle

Everyone knows that new floors will transform your home, make it more functional, and boost your property value. But if your heart is set on a do-it-yourself flooring job and you’re still typing “how to replace flooring” into Google the day before you’re set to begin… well, you should consider whether it’s worth the hassle and risks.

But: there’s good news! You don’t have to go it alone. There are tons of professionals ready to help you, and they’re most likely not too far away. Find one in your area with our flooring stores near me search and get ready to find the floor of your dreams! And for more info on flooring, check out:

About The Author

Dr. Sara Austin

Best known for being “not that kind of doctor” and never knowing which fork to use, Sara is a learning designer and writer, former real estate agent, and builder with a penchant for home design and remodeling.

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