Flooring DIY Doom | Tips to Avoid Install Problems
Installing your own flooring can be a fulfilling, highly educational project that will leave you with knowledge to carry out even more substantial projects in your home. That said, it’s essential to start the process with all the right tools, both metaphorically and literally. By ensuring that your installation is done right, you can avoid the headache that comes with fixing avoidable issues down the line and help to lengthen your flooring’s lifespan.
Here are some tips to avoid common pitfalls in DIY floor installations.
Know your floors
No matter what type of flooring you’re installing, the first step of installation is determining how the flooring should be fixed to the subfloor. Whether it’s glue-down, nail-down, or click flooring, check out our installation guides and the how-to videos on LL Flooring’s YouTube channel to learn more about your options.
An important factor to consider is the condition of your subfloor—you’ll need to start with a flat subfloor, so be sure to examine its condition and assess any areas that may need repairs before beginning installation.
Acclimate the wood
With hardwood, it’s crucial to first acclimate the wood you’ll be installing within the room, or an area with the same conditions, where it will be installed. This process is for the purpose of letting the new flooring adapt fully to the relative humidity of the space before it is installed. Spread out the opened boxes of flooring in the space, with the humidity and temperature consistent to where it’s typically set, between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This is to avoid what’s called “wood movement”, or the tendency for hardwood to bend and warp with changing temperatures or humidity levels. This is also to prevent future gapping or buckling issues.
The most important thing to remember is that time is not a factor for acclimation. It could take days or weeks. A moisture meter can indicate when the flooring is ready to be installed.
Leave adequate space for expansion
Even with the proper acclimation process, hardwood will expand and contract as moisture levels change, which is why it’s important to leave about a space, called an expansion gap, around the perimeter of your install.
The suggested gap for solid hardwood is 3/4" and for engineered hardwood 1/2". The trick for hiding this gap is with baseboard and molding.
Have the right tools
Perhaps the most important step in DIY flooring installation is using the best tools for the job. General tools to have on-hand include a quality miter saw, table saw, jamb saw, and depending on the flooring, a mallet, cleat nailer, or stapler for application.
Many areas have well-stocked tool libraries or rental opportunities that provide easier access to the tools you need without having to purchase each one. Or shop for the tools you need at LLFlooring.com, call, or visit a local LL Flooring Store for expert advice.