Welcome to the quick and dirty guide on flooring installation. According to this Renovator, there are 4 main renovations that can create a huge impact on the overall look of the home without having to go through a complete home renovation. Flooring installation is the most expensive of the 4, but has the biggest bang for your buck. 

Forgive me for going on a tangent here, but it’s important to know those 4 key remodels. They are, in order of cost – Switches and plugs, Door handles, Painting and Flooring. Generally, other renovation projects such as Basements, Kitchens and Bathrooms are not just high cost, but take major planning and are difficult for a Do It Yourselfer. However, changing the floors can be done as a DIY project and will create a huge impact on the overall look of the home. 

So, if you are itching for a new look, and thinking of installing a new floor, read on, this will get you started and will certainly increase your overall knowledge. Good luck, and give us a call if you want to hire a Pro, or just have some general questions.  

Let’s begin!

Flooring Installation –  The Step By Step Guide

Flooring installation is usually divided into three parts. Part 3 is the one that requires more technical precision, while the other two can be done quite easily. 

1) Gather The Tools

It goes without saying that having the right tools will not only save you tonnes of time but will keep your from the type of frustration that leads to smashing walls and crazy screaming matches with the heavens! We now need tools for everything, and floor installation is  no different. Get good quality tools, use cordless where possible and spend some extra bucks if you can afford it. The most important tools you will need are:

  • Measuring Tape
  • Pencil – not a pen! 
  • Box cutter or sharp knife
  • Jig-Saw – cordless or electric
  • Knee Pads – take care of those knees, you’ll need them later in life!
  • Spacers
  • Pull Bar
  • Chop-Saw – usually electric, but some good cordless one are now on the market
  • Hydrometer – optional 

Have them? Cool! Now onto step 2.

2) Inspect

Before starting the flooring installation, you should  inspect both your home’s floor and your newly purchased flooring. Why? To avoid any frustration in the future. Imagine installing a floor only to find flaws and faults which could have been avoided in the first place.

Inspect your current floor for squeaks and creaks, level variations, damaged edges, cracking, wavy spots and lifting. Inspect also for moisture levels, which can be done with your Hygrometer. The reading should be between 45-65 percent. If the subfloor is made up of timber or concrete, then the reading should be below 12%. 

Don’t forget to inspect your newly purchased floor. Count the boxes, open some before payment to check for color match. In addition, you should also confirm with the seller whether there is a warranty on the floor before buying it. Minor imperfections are pretty common when it comes to floors. But broken peices can lead to huge frustrations. Try to avoid that! So, if you find any problem and have a warranty, you can always go back to your supplier and ask for a replacement. 

Everything is Okay? Then it’s time for Step 3.

It’s time to Rock and Roll… Start The Flooring Installation!

Generally flooring is easy to install and fits any area.  We suggest you first go through the manufacturer’s flooring installation guide before starting the process. The procedure is usually the same for each type of flooring, but sometimes, there need to be some specific methods followed. In this blog, we will be focussing on laminate/engineered flooring

Then, start the process.

  1. Remove your baseboards and shoe mold. If you’re going to put up new baseboard, then dispose of it, You will just install new material after the flooring installion is complete. In some instances, the baseboard can be saved and re-installed. When removing the baseboard, use your knife to score the edge on the wall before removing it. This scoring will ensure that your paint won’t peal avoiding costly wall patching and will keep the baseboard from breaking. Try to store your baseboard in the room you are working in to avoid confusion when re-installing or tape the peices together and store in the house or garage. Try to store them in the same temperature as your your home. This will avoid cracking.
  2. Remove any flooring that is already present. If you see variantions in leveling, you can either replace the sub-floor or level the floor with a self-leveling epoxy or concrete mixture. Self leveling sounds hard than it looks. You can buy a pre-mixed product or mix it yourself. The general motions are to pour the mixture on the concrete floor and smoothen it with a long tool or a 2×4. Let gravity do its work here, the self-leveling mixture will flow into the lower spots and create an even result. It is super important to do this if you have major changes in the floor level. 
  3. Check the subfloor, which can be made of plywood or wood. There might be spots that creak or squeak. We always screw down sqeaky spots. Some flooring installation companies use a nail gun to correct those squeaks, but the nailing will not solve the problem, over time, the nails will loosen and the squeaks will return. Screwing them in keeps a much stronger bond and will ensure those squeaks never return.
  4. Keep checking the subfloor. In older homes, the subfloor might need to be replaced altogether. The instances where the subfloor needs replacement are if you detect mold, find broken peices that can’t be screwed down, cracking, wearing or general age. Use your best judgement, and err on the side of caution. Remember, preparation is key, so be vigilant!.
  5. Then, go get your flooring. Make sure you have chosen some quality flooring and that the underlay is appropriate. Choosing different types of flooring and underlayment is a topic in itself, so stay tuned for some blogs written on them. 
  6. Place the underlayment over the concrete or the subfloor. Some flooring today comes with a rubber coating on the underside to avoid the need for underlayment. This is generally more expensive, but saves you time and the cost of having to purchase the underlayment separately. Laying the underlayment is quite simple, unroll it, cover the floor, using your knife, cut where appropriate, and if your underlayment comes with a sticky side, ensure you connect the peices to create a seamless covering.
  7. Are you ready, well, let’s do it. Start on the flooring installation. When you are done with the underlay placement, take the  flooring and begin from the straight wall. 
  8. The first row you install should have edges joined. Start with a half board in this step. If you want your floor to have different shades, then use colored planks of your own choice. Also, make sure the tongue side is in front of the starting wall. Here’s a tip. Install the floor from left to right. Do this along with the exterior wall. You will feel at ease. In the meantime, keep using spacers to make sure that a 10mm gap is maintained between the baseobard and floor. Don’t have spacers? Well, you can use floor cut-offs as well.  
  9. Then, use a full board and cover the whole room. Again,make sure to keep the spaces. It is crucial because the flooring instalation will look odd if the spaces are not maintained. The strength of the floor also decreases if you don’t maintain space. So, make sure there is a 10 mm gap at every side. 
  10. When you are on your last row, then you will have to be more precise. Cut the pieces by measuring the width. Then, fit them carefully. Don’t hammer the floor directly, you will damage the grooves, rather take a wooden block or a a peice of floor and use that between the floor and the hammer. Now, I’m sure you’re getting the hang of it! Keep going, and remember, don’t cut corners, work dilligently and patiently! 
  11. After that, only the door side will be left. Put a plank under the door and make sure there is still some space between the plank and the frame. After that, start tapping the long side. Next, do the same with the short side. That’s it!

Here’s a bonus tip to ensure the flooring installation is smooth from start to end. Use a measuring tape to measure the room length. Then, divide it by the plank width. Note that the tongue or groove part is not included in this measure. This will allow you to calculate how many planks you will need. 

You must now be thinking, how am I going to know how much flooring  I will need to cover the whole room? Easy, just measure the room with a measuring tape.

Here’s what we suggest. 

Measure your room’s width, and then add 10 more inches to it. Why 10 inches? Because the chances of people being spot on in measuring width are very low. So, go for 10 more inches to be on the safe side in case you have made a slight mistake in calculating the width. 

Important Note: If you live in an area where there is lots of rain or the moisture/humidity level is high most of the year, then we suggest you go for Water resistant laminate floors. You will avoid having to replace wet floors in the future

Now you know how to install a floor properly, Try it yourself or hire professionals to do it!