Avoiding common mistakes when replacing flooring

Updating the flooring in a home can greatly enhance it. However, installing new flooring can also be a major project that requires proper planning and preparation. If you don’t take the right steps during the installation process, you may end up with a floor that’s damaged or deteriorates earlier than expected.

To avoid headaches down the road, it’s important to avoid some of the most common mistakes DIYers make when installing new floors. Doing your homework before taking on a flooring replacement project will help you achieve beautiful, long-lasting results.

Read on for some key tips you can follow to avoid the most common mistakes during your next flooring installation project.

Use a laser measuring device for accuracy.

Measure carefully

As the saying goes, measure twice and cut once. Knowing how to accurately measure your floors is one of the most crucial elements of a professional-looking flooring installation that can update the look of a dated home. Don’t rely on rough approximations or guesswork when determining how much new flooring material to purchase – carefully measure the length and width of each room to calculate the square footage.

Take into account any irregularities in the room’s shape or alcoves requiring flooring. For maximum accuracy, use a laser measuring device rather than a standard tape measure. It’s also wise to add about 5-10% extra to your total flooring calculations, to allow for cutting waste and minor natural imperfections in the planks. You’ll be glad to end up with a few extra planks rather than realising halfway through installation that you don’t have enough material to finish. Precisely measuring the floor ahead of time is key to ensuring you purchase the right amount for a smooth, seamless flooring installation.

For products like hardwood or luxury vinyl flooring, measure the room to plan how full planks will be laid out. Try to avoid narrow strips along perimeter walls as these can be difficult to install cleanly. You may need to remove skirting boards to get more precise room dimensions.

Fitting ceramic tiling.

Choose the right materials

When selecting new flooring materials, it is important to choose products appropriate for the room’s intended use and traffic level. Durable, scratch-resistant materials like stone, ceramic tile or vinyl planks are better for high-traffic areas prone to wear, like kitchens and entryways, while delicate materials such as wood are better suited to bedrooms or formal living rooms.

Be sure to verify that the specific flooring type you select is rated by the manufacturer to be installed over your existing subfloor, whether concrete, plywood or other material. It’s important to bear in mind that not all flooring can be installed over both concrete and wood subfloors interchangeably, so checking first will ensure your new flooring lasts.

When tackling a flooring replacement project, it’s wise to purchase all the materials for the entire home at once, if possible, rather than spacing out purchases over time. Buying everything together helps ensure the dye lots, wood grain patterns, gloss sheens and overall quality are perfectly matched across all the new flooring. Nothing ruins the look of a new floor faster than noticeably different colouring or textures in adjoining rooms.

Installing new parquet flooring.

Allow room for expansion

It is essential to leave adequate room for expansion when installing wood or laminate flooring. These materials naturally expand and contract with fluctuations in temperature and humidity. When replacing flooring, be sure to leave a 1/4-inch gap between the flooring and all walls in the room. Use spacers during installation to maintain this expansion gap and avoid pushing the flooring flush to the walls – the floor must have space to move.

For floating floor installations where planks click together without nails, also leave small gaps at all seams between boards according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Failure to leave required expansion space can result in buckled or warped boards when the flooring has no room to expand and contract. 

Checking planks with a moisture meter.

Address moisture concerns

Before you start installing your new floors, be sure to address any moisture issues that might be present. For wooden subfloors, check the moisture content using a moisture metre in several areas and ensure it is within the flooring manufacturer’s recommended range before installation. If there are any leaks or areas with high moisture content, make sure you resolve these first.

For concrete subfloors, conduct moisture testing to determine the moisture vapour emission rate. This measures the amount of moisture vapour escaping the concrete over time. Excessive moisture can damage flooring over time, so always follow the flooring manufacturer’s guidelines for acceptable moisture limits and testing methods.

If moisture is too high, you can use a moisture barrier system or, a moisture-limiting primer may be required before installing the flooring. Be sure to use the adhesive recommended by the flooring manufacturer for your particular subfloor and moisture conditions. Some adhesives are designed specifically for use on concrete slabs with higher moisture levels.

Laying ceramic floor tiles.

Transition smoothly between rooms

When installing new flooring, it is important to properly transition between rooms to allow the flooring surfaces to move independently. Use metal or vinyl transition strips between adjoining floor spaces, leaving a small gap underneath the strip for expansion and contraction of the floors. Take care to ensure subfloors are level before installation so the flooring meets flush across transition thresholds. Uneven surfaces can lead to unsafe trip hazards or gaps between flooring types.

It may be necessary to grind down high spots or use self-levelling compound in places to achieve a smooth seam. The time taken to prep your subfloors and include quality transition pieces between rooms vastly improves the final aesthetic and allows the different flooring materials to shift seasonally without damage. Planning proper transitions as part of the flooring replacement project results in beautifully finished spaces that hold up for the long term.

Prepare and perfect a polished result

Replacing your flooring can greatly transform the look and feel of your home, but only if done properly. Avoiding common mistakes with careful planning and preparation is crucial for a successful installation. Rushing into a flooring replacement project without due diligence raises the risk of ending up with damaged floors or aesthetically disappointing results. So, make sure your floors look polished and professional with careful installation.

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