Experts offer the following
tips for purchasing and installing flooring.
- Consider the usage of your space. When deciding on flooring type, consider what your
space will be used for and what foot traffic levels will be. Purchase
flooring based on durability levels and resistance to dirt and wear,
and remember to consider how your usage of an area might change
over the lifetime of the floor.
- Factor installation costs. Not all flooring
types make for a good do-it-yourself project. See the installation
- Consider the costs. Realistically calculate the cost of
the flooring based on the square feet you need to cover, adding
10% for surplus flooring. Add in any installation costs or, if installing
the floor yourself, add the costs of any required tools and/or materials.
or do-it-yourself, all floors are installed using one of three basic
- Nail-down/staple-down installation. This type of installation is
most commonly used for solid wood and engineered wood, although it can
also be used for linoleum, bamboo, cork and vinyl. Nail-down/staple-down
installation must be done over a wood subfloor;
felt or rosin paper is often laid between the subfloor and
the flooring material to reduce noise and wick away any moisture.
Staples are applied directly with a pneumatic stapler and are evident
upon close inspection of the floor. Nails may be applied diagonally
to make them virtually invisible or they may be nailed in straight
and topped with decorative fasteners. Wood flooring may also be screwed
down using countersunk holes and wood plugs.
- Glue-down installation. This type of installation
is most commonly used for engineered wood, tile, stone, vinyl
and linoleum. Glue-down installation must be used with a wood or concrete
subfloor or over existing flooring. Flooring material is glued down
to a clean, flat subfloor using adhesive and a trowel for even application.
Another glue-down alternative is flooring backed with adhesive,
most commonly found with tile vinyl. With glue-down installation, no
noise or moisture barrier is required.
- Floating installation. This type of
installation is most commonly used for engineered wood, laminates
and some types of linoleum. Floating installation requires a wood or
concrete subfloor or existing flooring that is clean, dry and flat.
The flooring material comes in planks or tiles that snap or lock together,
although some types may also require glue at the joints. The flooring
is installed over a thin foam or cork pad to improve flooring aesthetics
and reduce noise. If installation is over a plain concrete subfloor,
a thin plastic vapor barrier is also required.
Whatever flooring and
installation types are used, it is important to plan carefully for new
flooring. If using professional installation, discuss needs and preferences
with the installer and do a walk-through to ensure agreement on where
the flooring should go and how the finished product should look. If
installing the flooring without professional help, lay out the flooring
and cut with proper tools, use the proper adhesive and follow directions
It is important to follow
any recommendations for preparing the subfloor.
Some wood subfloors require preparation, such
as sanding and/or sealing. Concrete subfloors require
filling of any dips or cracks that make the floor uneven or compromise
its integrity. Any padding or vapor barriers can also be laid at this
Installing wood flooring
requires a few extra steps. Prior to installation, wood should be unpacked
and laid out in the room in which it will be installed. The wood should
be allowed to rest and acclimate in the room for 24 to 72 hours so the
temperature and humidity levels of the wood match the conditions in
the room. Once the wood has been installed, the room should not be heated
immediately; instead, the temperature should be raised gradually over
the course of a week, allowing the wood to adjust to the temperature