When a floor has reached its breaking point and simply cleaning or touching up won’t do the job, it may be time to consider replacing or repairing your flooring material. Whether you’re looking to repair the worn down wood flooring in your entryway, install new ceramic tiles in your kitchen, or replace your wall-to-wall carpeting, you may be thinking you want to save money by attempting to DIY. There are many things to factors to consider when deciding whether to DIY or hire a professional for your flooring project.
Choosing your new flooring
Flooring materials come in a wide range of styles, materials, colors and price points. Before deciding upon a flooring material, it’s best to consider:
- the room
- the amount of foot traffic
- room-specific considerations such as water usage
- sound-dampening qualities
- pets living in the home
- durability and cleaning needs
- the budget
- subflooring considerations
- changes in elevation from room to room
- what is standard for your neighborhood
- whether you want environmentally-conscious and eco-friendly flooring
Homeowners may choose to upgrade, replace or fix their flooring because the old flooring is worn out, they’ve added a new room to the home, or they simply want a change. Because of the massive amount of flooring options out there, it’s best to focus on what you and your family need first, then find a product that meets your budget and timeline.
Types of flooring projects
Here are some common tasks that are usually part of a flooring project:
- refinishing solid wood floors
- fixing cracked tiles or replacing tiles
- tearing out old linoleum or vinyl
- removing old carpeting
- removing old laminate flooring
- changing the flooring on the stairs
- upgrading from carpeting to wood flooring
Money tends to have the biggest impact on home improvement project elements. Educate yourself with the cost drivers for flooring projects so prices don’t come unexpected. You may be thinking you can save some money by taking on this project yourself, but that depends on other things like your skill level and availability. It’s important to lay out all costs for your potential flooring project before taking action, so that you know what you’re getting yourself and your wallet into. Evaluate and compare costs for a DIY or hiring a professional flooring project.
The following are a few standard DIY costs that can be added to your budget if you were to do your project on your own:
- Flooring materials
- Ordering and shipping fees for products
- Equipment for removal of old molding and installing new materials
- Tools and supplies (e.g., stain, screws, nail gun)
- Repairs for mistakes made come out of pocket
This list covers the payments you will need to make for hiring a flooring contractor to do the work for you:
- Preparation and installation labor fees
- All materials needed for installation or repair
- Cleanup and removal of debris
Hiring a flooring contractor can be expensive due to labor costs, but you have the opportunity to cut down fees by doing some of the DIY work on your own beforehand. Clearing furniture in the work area or prepping your floors prior to installation will help speed up the process, as well as save you some cash. But, spending the extra money to hire a professional will make sure you receive high-quality work that you are satisfied with, free of all the hassle a flooring project can entail.
Taking on DIY projects may seem like the perfect time to learn new skills however, you have to be willing to put in the time and effort and commit to actually completing the task. If you don’t like getting your hands dirty or have no prior experience, then the DIY method may not be for you. Here are a few things to ask yourself when it comes to your level of experience for a flooring project:
- Have you ever installed flooring in your home?
- Are you familiar with basic home improvement projects?
- Do you know how to use construction tools properly and safely?
- Do you enjoy taking on hard labor tasks?
- Do you know how to check the subflooring or joists?
- Do you know how to create a transition between different flooring levels?
- Do you understand the amount of slope needed (for drainage rooms like laundry rooms)?
- Do you know how to safely remove old flooring material and prep the subfloor?
- Do you know how to replace subflooring or check for water damage and mold?
If you answered no to some of these questions, then DIY may not be right for you. A contractor can take care of all job details, leaving you with only the job of making the payment, choosing the flooring, and staying communicated with him or her. A flooring contractor should be an expert in his or her field, providing your home with reliable and credible service. If you lack the knowledge when it comes to home improvement projects, let a professional install or repair your floors for you.
Steps to take beforehand
Regardless of knowledge and prior experience, if you are determined to take some part in your flooring project there are a few steps you can take to better the process before your contractor jumps in.
1. Map it out
Gather the dimensions of a room or the total square footage in order to judge how much time and money will need to be put into the project according to size. Make out a scaled drawing on grid paper with the area in which you are going to be replacing the flooring. This will help maintain balance through the project and can also give contractors an idea of what you want.
2. Do your research
Look at what people have done before you. Porch home inspiration pages can be the perfect place to start to look at other flooring projects completed in your area. Your research will help you gauge your project ambitions against your budget and commitment. This research can also give you a good perspective on what to look for in a flooring professional. Gather estimates from multiple contractors to get a general pricing on your potential project. Make sure to ask for references of contractors so that you can review and evaluate his or her work to get the best one possible.
3. Complete your plan
Make the goal match your budget and desire for the final result. The flooring materials and products you want for your project can be a major factor in planning the scope of your project as they will directly affect your budget. Be proactive about your project by planning ahead to keep your flooring contractor on schedule. When meeting with contractors, make sure you fully understand what the quote you are given includes and also be sure he or she is just as aware of what you want. Use the resources available to you by your contractor, such as if he or she has access to materials at reduced or wholesale prices from local suppliers. Having a set plan for your flooring project before your contractor starts working will benefit the success of your project.
Expect the unexpected
Even an experienced flooring professional encounters improvement projects that require emergency fixes. It’s quite common that while ripping out old flooring, the sub-flooring may be deemed in bad condition and needs replacement. It’s also quite common that your new flooring may be too heavy for your joists, and extra support beams may need to be installed. Of course, not all flooring projects are complicated, some are quite straight-forward. Just be aware that a flooring project may be more involved than a simple replacement.
Even if you’ve decided against hiring a contractor, consulting with one about your project will cost you very little or nothing at all, and could help you avoid pitfalls and problems you wouldn’t have anticipated. Understand all that goes into a flooring project from materials to the installation process, and be realistic about what you can and can not do.