25 Tips for Your DIY Flooring Project


Many types of floors are simpler to install than a homeowner thinks, but simple is not quite the same as easy. Depending on the size of the floor, the job may take a weekend or even a long weekend, and there are must-have tools and other necessities to make the job successfully in the end. Here are over 25 tips that raise the stakes of the floor being perfectly installed.

Wood Floors’

A DIYer has a choice of engineered or solid wood when installing wood flooring. Both come in strips, planks, blocks or parquet tiles. Solid wood is made of one species of wood all the way through, while engineered wood is made of layers of plywood or inferior wood with a high quality show layer. Some engineered wood floors actually have a photograph of real wood as the show layer covered by a transparent, protective sheet.

Solid wood can be refinished more than engineered wood, but engineered wood is quicker to install and more stable. It is not as likely to swell or warp, which means it can be used in places that solid wood floors can’t. This includes concrete flooring in the basement, which is usually too damp for solid wood.

The owner also has a choice of hardwood or softwood. The names have little to do with how hard or soft the wood is, but hardwoods are usually deciduous trees while softwoods tend to be conifers. Hardwoods are more dense than softwoods and some flooring experts claim they are more aesthetically pleasing.

1. Stack the pieces of solid wooden flooring in the room where it will be installed for a few days so it can acclimate itself to the conditions of the room. Solid wood should never be stored in a place that is damp or has poor ventilation, for these conditions can cause it to warp. After this, it’ll shrink as it dries and leaves gaps between the tiles or planks.

2. Snap chalk lines first to keep the rows of tiles or planks straight, snap a chalks line from the door of the room to the wall opposite, then from the perpendicular wall to the wall opposite. Use a framing square to keep everything at 90 degrees. If the margins are uneven, use the baseboard to hide them.

3. When installing solid wooden flooring, leave a gap around the edges of the room that’s the thickness of the board to allow it to expand. The baseboard will hide the gaps.

4. Dry-lay the flooring before nailing or gluing it down.

5. When using a power nailer, always wear protective goggles.

6. Use a pyramid pattern when laying out parquet tiles. Start along chalk lines in the center of the room, and lay the tiles until the rows along the layout lines touch the walls. Then add the rest of the tiles. This pattern corrects for the inevitable size differences in the parquet tiles.

7. Use a jigsaw to cut parquet tiles. If a table saw is used to cut them, it may bind.

8. To lay parquet tiles on the diagonal, use chalk to snap layout lines that are 45 degrees to the wall while being 90 degrees to each other.

Refinishing a Wood Floor

Whether the floor is made of solid or engineered wood matters when it comes to sanding and refinishing. Solid wood floors can be refinished several times, while floors made of engineered wood can only be refinished once or twice if that. Laminates should not be refinished at all.

A person whose DIY flooring project is to refinish their wood floors needs to rent equipment from a big box or home improvement store. They'll need sanders, an edger, and a rotary buffer. Besides this, they will need to prepare their home for the project.

9. Remove everything from the room that can be removed.

10. Cover all outlets and switches and registers with plastic sheeting.

11. If there are pilot lights, turn them off.

12. Use a disposable dust mask.

13. Seal the doorways with a tarp.

This prevents the inevitable dust from contaminating everything. Better yet, turning off a pilot light prevents the dust from igniting. These steps should be done even if the sanders come with their own dust bags.

Another tip when it comes to restoring wood floors is to get a lever-action floor sander. This saves the DIYer the trouble of having to tilt up a drum sander when they reach the end of the room. If the sander isn't tilted up quickly, it will leave a furrow in the wood that's hard to smooth out.


Nothing is as luxurious or delicious to walk on as carpeting, and though installing a carpet may be more involved than installing other types of flooring, it can still be done by a dedicated DIYer. The most popular type of carpeting in 2019 is nylon, a strong synthetic fiber that resists damage, hides dirt and is long-lasting. Other popular types of carpet are acrylic, polyester, polypropylene, and wool or wool/synthetic blends.

14. Buy the Right Tools

The installer may need to rent some carpet laying tools from a home improvement or big box store. They include:

  • Strip cutters
    This tool allows the worker to cut a tackless strip that is installed around the edges of the room.

  • Staple hammer
    This tool fastens the carpet padding to wooden floors. It isn’t used if the floor is made of concrete. In that case, use adhesive.

  • Seaming Iron
    This tool bonds pieces of carpet and seam tape.

  • Knee kicker and a power stretcher
    These tools help to pull the carpeting tight.

  • Carpet Trimmer
    This instrument makes straight, neat cuts along the walls.

Padding vs. Cushion-backed

Carpet can be bought with separate padding or it can have a backing of foam cushioning. It is easier to install carpet with a cushion back, but it is less durable than carpet with a pad. On the other hand, a cushion back carpet doesn’t need stretching and is less expensive.

Calculating Carpet

Carpet is sold by the square yard. To find out how much a room needs, measure the widest and longest points by feet, multiply the numbers then divide the result by 9.

Types of Padding

There are different types of padding, including:

  • Sponge rubber

  • Felt

  • Polyurethane

  • Rubber that's been treated to be non-skid

Additional tips about carpeting padding include:

15. Use dense polyurethane padding in areas that get a lot of traffic.

16. Don’t use polyurethane padding with a berber carpet or other carpets with a stiff back. Use sponge-rubber with these carpets.

17. Don’t use felt padding in rooms that get a lot of humidity.

18. Don’t use sponge-rubber pads over radiant heat.

19. When the carpeting and padding arrive, unroll them in separate rooms. This lets the buyer know that they’ve received the amount of carpet that they ordered.

20. If two pieces of cushion back carpet are taped and glued together, press a rolling pin along the seam where they are joined then brush the pile to hide the seam.

21. Use double-faced tape to hold backless carpeting to stairs.

22. Carpet tiles are also available. Install them the same ways as wood tiles.

23. If the carpet needs to be seamed, place the seam in an inconspicuous place.

24. To make a seamless noticeable, make sure that it runs toward the primary light source in the room.

25. A dense carpet with a low, regular pile is ideal, for it looks and feels better and lasts longer. It’s also easier to vacuum. Carpets with long, irregular piles such as shag carpets tend to trap dirt.

Cleaning the Carpet

It's a good idea to clean a carpet every year or so to get rid of deep dirt and grime that the vacuum cleaner can't reach. Though lots of homeowners leave this to the professionals, it can also be done by a DIYer. The trick is to not use too much water or too much carpet shampoo. A carpet that is too wet can warp, and too much detergent is hard to get out and attracts dirt if it's left in the carpet.

One tip for carpet cleaning is to do it on a clear, warm, dry day so that the carpet dries quickly.

Most modern carpets are stain resistant, so the stain doesn't sink deeply into the fibers. If there is a deep stain, that carpet remnant comes in handy. The stain can be cut out either with a carpet patch tool or a utility knife and a piece of the remnant can be inserted and held fast with double-sided patch tape. Of course, this repair job is much easier if the carpeting is all one color and texture.

Yes, installing a new floor is indeed a job of work. But it can be done by a DIYer, and they will not only save a lot of money installing the floor themselves but can bask in a sense of pride and accomplishment.

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