In this article, we'll review the most common mistakes made by homeowners when installing new flooring. We'll also look at when DIY work is appropriate and when it's best to call in the professionals. In addition, we'll give you a few important tips on finding and hiring the best professionals.
Installing new flooring is one of the most popular home improvement projects out there. However, just because it's popular doesn't mean that new flooring is without potential mistakes...it's full of them! Thankfully, all it takes to avoid these mistakes is a bit of general knowledge and common sense.
Common Mistake - Lack of Cohesion
Your home's flooring can either tie together your dècor or detract from it. You've probably been in houses where the entryway features hardwood floors, the dining room carpeting, and the kitchen vinyl tile. Not the best overall look, right? Unless these spaces are distinctly separated by doors, radically different flooring can make a home look sloppy and disconnected.
This doesn't mean that you need the same flooring throughout your home. However, you should take a close look at which areas are visible from different spots. If you can see the dining room from the entryway, consider using the same flooring in these areas.
A very popular way to avoid this mistake is to install hardwood flooring through an entire floor of your home. Hardwood is a popular choice for this approach because it looks beautiful in most first-floor rooms, such as living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens (upstairs rooms are usually distinctly separated, and can feature very different flooring without clashing). Each room can be decorated differently, and area rugs can add personality while maintaining a harmonious appearance.
Common Mistake - Failure to Research Materials
This mistake has several different aspects. When choosing flooring, far too many homeowners make a decision based solely on visual appeal. Different flooring is more appropriate for different areas of your home. The following are a few things to keep in mind when selecting your new floor.
- Level of Wear and Use - If your household includes children or pets, or if you simply have a large family, your flooring is going to take more abuse than average. You need flooring which can withstand this abuse while retaining its original beauty. For example, limestone and other natural stone tiles are a visually stunning flooring choice, but they can stain rather easily. This makes them a poor choice for busy kitchens. Hardwood, vinyl tile and finished concrete would all be better choices.
- Creating a Healthy Home - Thanks to the green revolution, more homeowners than ever are looking into environmentally friendly alternatives. This extends to your flooring options. Certain inexpensive types of flooring can give off chemical vapors for years after installation. Many of these vapors are suspected carcinogens, and they're all irritating to people with allergies. Do your research and purchase a brand of flooring which has been manufactured without the use of harmful chemicals.
- Safety Considerations - Children and older adults can fall and hurt themselves easily on a slick, glossy floor. For this reason, many households are better suited to padded carpeting. If you want to combine safety with the look of a hardwood or laminate floor, make large area rugs part of your dècor. You may want to avoid certain materials altogether, such as rock-hard polished concrete.
- Ease of Installation - If you're installing your new floor yourself, it's important to take the required skill level into account. There are many types of flooring which have been specifically designed for DIY installation. Popular options include laminate squares which mimic the look of traditional hardwoods and vinyl tiles. On the other hand, many types of flooring are very difficult to install properly without a lot of experience. Traditional hardwoods, padded carpeting and grouted tile are a few examples of flooring which is usually best installed by professionals, unless you have a great deal of flooring experience.
Common Mistake - Taking on Too Much DIY Work
As we mentioned, certain types of flooring are simply too involved for the average homeowner to tackle on a DIY basis. Hardwood flooring may sound simple, for example, but many different factors come into play during an installation. Crooked floors, sub-floors and finishing techniques are just a few of the many details that must be handled correctly in order to end up with a beautiful and structurally sound hardwood floor. There are similar small details for nearly every other type of labor-intensive flooring.
A common reason for making this mistake is budget. Many homeowners look at how much money they can save by doing the work themselves, and make a decision without considering the level of skill required. A poorly installed floor can lead to expensive repairs down the road, making a DIY â€œbudgetâ€ flooring job actually cost more than a floor that was professionally installed in the first place.
Time is another consideration with DIY flooring jobs. An unusable floor is a big hindrance to everyday life. DIY projects usually take longer than professional ones. Fewer workers are usually involved, and those workers are moving at a slower pace than people who install flooring on a daily basis.
Thoroughly research the entire installation process of any flooring material before making the decision to DIY. If you even suspect that your skill level isn't up to the task, play it safe and let the professionals handle your flooring. In the end, your home and your wallet will thank you.
Common Mistake - Cutting Too Many Corners
During these tough economic times, it's natural to want to save as much money as possible. However, being a smart consumer doesn't always mean using the cheapest possible materials and labor.
Cutting corners by hiring a disreputable contractor or handyman is asking for trouble. This practice can lead to poor workmanship, workers who show up late or don't show up at all, and many other issues, big and small. When hiring professionals, seek out the lowest reasonable bid from a reputable contractor, using materials which are budget-friendly but still high-quality. You can shop around for the best deals, or ask your contractor for tips on finding quality materials at discounted prices.
If you're tackling your flooring project on a DIY basis, don't make the mistake of purchasing the absolute cheapest materials you can find. This is another sure way of ending up with a less-than-successful project. Extremely inexpensive products and materials are more likely to be flimsy and contain harmful chemicals. Shop for discounts on quality products; in the end, the extra expense is money well spent, since you won't be looking at a repair or replacement within a few short years.
Finding the Best Professional Help
Whether you hire a pro for all or just part of your flooring project, there are some common mistakes involved in the hiring process. These mistakes can leave you with an unsatisfactory floor, cause your project to take much longer than necessary, or cost you extra money.
Picking a Name Out of the Phone Book - There's nothing wrong with contractors who advertise in the phone book. After all, it used to be the only way! However, with all the resources which are now available via the internet, choosing a random name just doesn't make good sense. Utilize home improvement websites which let you search for local contractors. These sites will let you view licensing, insurance, years of experience, and other important decision-making factors.
Making Verbal Agreements - Always insist upon a written contract for your new flooring project. This is true for any home improvement project, but it becomes more important depending on the size and expense of the individual job. A new floor is both time-consuming and expensive, which makes it essential to have a written contract. Your contract should include specifications like working hours, insurance coverage and the materials to be used, among many others. Have a lawyer look over the contract for an extra measure of certainty.
Hiring Inexperienced or Unlicensed Workers - In an effort to save money, many homeowners turn to workers without the proper licensing, insurance or experience. While in most areas a license is not required to install flooring, if the project involves structural work, a permit may be needed. Regardless of the need for permits or licenses, it's important to make sure that whoever you hire has as much experience as possible. An inexperienced worker is likely to make the same mistakes you might make if you installed the floor yourself, making the act of hiring a professional a total waste. Play it safe and insist on adequate experience.
As you can see, the most common floor installation mistakes come from a desire to save money. Its' crucial to remember that paying for quality workmanship and materials is not a waste...it's an investment. Professional installation and quality materials will leave you with a beautiful floor you'll enjoy for years to come, whereas skimping is likely to leave you with an eyesore you'll want to replace immediately.Posted by: Diane Sheppard