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Top Tips for Installing New Flooring

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If you are in the market for new flooring, you have some choices to make. First, you need to decide what material you will use. While stone, tile, and hardwood are perennial favorites, they are not the only options. If you like the look of these traditional materials, you may also want to consider vinyl or laminate. Vinyl and laminate are often cheaper, more durable, and easier to install than conventional materials. However, if you really love the look of genuine materials, you may decide it is worth the effort to install the real thing. Whichever material you choose, TrustDALE has some top tips for installing new flooring. Of course, if you don’t feel like taking the DIY route, you can contact a TrustDALE certified flooring specialist in your area to do the job for you.

Top Tips for Installing New Flooring [infographic]

Tips for Installing Ceramic, Porcelain, or Stone Tile Flooring

Whether you choose ceramic, porcelain, or stone, tile flooring is a durable and beautiful choice for your floors. Tile is an especially popular material for areas that will be exposed to water, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Tile is also an excellent choice for high-traffic areas like living rooms and recreational rooms that are to spills and stains.

1. Choosing the Right Tile for Your Home

Tile is an extremely versatile flooring material. Some tile is best indoors, while other types of tile can withstand the effects of weather well enough to be used outdoors as well. One of the benefits of tile is that you can use different materials, tile shapes, and grout colors to create a completely unique design for your home. This can make selecting tiles a little overwhelming, but with the right planning and design, tile can provide a durable and beautiful floor that will last for decades.

2. Preparing the Subfloor

The first step in installing a tile floor is to remove the existing floor all the way down to the plywood planks. If you are ripping up carpet, vinyl, or tile, the process can be time consuming and labor-intensive. Expect lots of trash, and use protection to avoid inhaling dust and chemicals. If you are not comfortable with this step, a TrustDALE certified flooring specialist is just a phone call away.

Once the existing floor is removed, you will need to install a layer of cement boards. Tile doesn’t adhere well to plywood, making the cement boards a necessary first step in tile installation. Cement board typically come in 3x5 foot sections and can be challenging to work with. The boards are heavy and may require more than one person to maneuver. Also, to cut or pre-drill cement boards, you will need carbide-tipped saws and drills. Finally, cement boards are usually installed with a slight gap at the joints, which must be filled with silicone sealant or other compounds and then taped.

3. Laying the Tile

To lay tile, you need to apply a layer of thinset (a mortar-like adhesive) and then carefully place the tile in its spot. Don’t put down too much thinset at once. Work in a small area, so that the thinset doesn’t begin to dry before you get the tiles down. It is crucial to use spacers to ensure a consistent gap between tiles. The gap allows thinset to come up between the tiles and will also provide a space for grout.

To create a symmetrical pattern, always start laying tile from the center of a room and work your way to the edges.

4. Grout

Before you install grout, check with the manufacturer of your spaces to determine whether they are meant to stay in place or be removed. After you install the grout, wipe away excess grout with a sponge and then finish with a damp rag or cloth. Make sure to work in small areas, even smaller than the thinset, as grout hardens relatively quickly.

If you are unsure about any step in this process, consider hiring a TrustDALE certified flooring expert. It is better to pay to have the job done right than to do it yourself and end up with an inferior installation.

Tips for Installing Hardwood Floors

Hardwood is a classic flooring material that is highly sought after by many homebuyers and homeowners. There are many types of hardwood and finishes, and some may be susceptible to damage from moisture. Installing hardwood flooring is a complicated job, and it’s easy to make mistakes. Unless you are very confident in your abilities, it is best to hire a professional TrustDALE certified hardwood flooring expert.

1. Selecting Your Hardwood Floor

The worst enemy of hardwood flooring is moisture, and it is not recommended for environments with high humidity. Excess moisture can lead a hardwood floor to warp, bow, split, or crack. If you live in a humid area and will not be using round-the-clock temperature and humidity controls, you may want to consider engineered hardwood with a moisture-blocking sealant. Even so, we discourage hardwood for moist areas.

If your home is eligible for hardwood flooring, you will have some choices to make. Hardwood flooring comes in a wide variety of styles, depending on the type of wood and how it is cut. You should consider both aesthetics and the properties of the wood when making your selection.

2. Preparing the Floor

As with any new flooring installation, the first step is to rip up the old flooring. Once that is done, you can start preparing the subfloor. The subfloor must be completely smooth before installing your hardwood floor. Any bumps our gouges can lead to creaking and bouncing floors. 

3. Laying the Down the Hardwood Flooring

After the hardwood is delivered, it should sit in your home for a week or longer. This will allow the wood to acclimate to the conditions in your home and prevent warping and other abnormalities after installation.

When the hardwood is ready for installation, you can begin by laying the first few boards. Pay very close attention to their placement. Well-placed boards will make installation easier, but poorly-placed boards will lead to a poorly-installed floor. Make sure to measure carefully and cut accordingly to work around vents, turns, and doorways.

The final step is to sand, stain, and seal your flooring. Hardwood flooring is not easy to install, and there are plenty of ways to mess it up. Unless you are an experienced craftsman, we suggest hiring a TurstDALE certified hardwood flooring expert for your installation.

Tips for Installing Sheet or Tile Vinyl

Vinyl is an inexpensive option that still provides a durable and good-looking floor. It can mimic the appearance of many more-expensive materials at a fraction of the cost.

1. Removing Obstacles

Start by removing any obstacles that would prevent full access to the floor. In addition to moving large furniture and appliances, you should also remove baseboards and other features that restrict access to the entire floor right up to the base of the walls.

2. Preparing the Subfloor and Laying Underlayment

In the process of removing the existing flooring, you may gouge or damage the subfloor. These imperfections should be filled or otherwise repaired before you proceed.

Once the floor is even and smooth, you can place the underlayment. Underlayment is often made of foam or cork and will affect the performance of your completed floor. Specialized underlayments can make a floor more waterproof, quieter to walk on, softer to step on, or any combination of those features. To lay underlayment properly, it may help to create a paper template of your space. The template can guide your cutting so that the underlayment fits precisely, and there are no gaps at the edges.

3. Installing the Vinyl

Vinyl comes in two styles: sheet vinyl, which comes in rolls, and tile vinyl that comes as individual squares.

Sheet vinyl needs to be cut to shape and is installed similarly to carpet. It typically needs to be glued down. Measure carefully to avoid gaps in the flooring, then lay down the vinyl over your glue.

Vinyl tiles typically come with adhesive already on them. All you need to do is peel off the backing and place the tile in its spot.

Whichever type of vinyl you use, a tight bond between the vinyl and the underlayment is crucial. You can use a rolling pin or floor roller to press the vinyl against the underlayment, forming a tight seal and working out any imperfections or bubbles. A vinyl floor needs to set for several hours after installation, so the adhesive can form a tight seal. Once the flooring is set, you can put back any molding or baseboards, as well as furniture and appliances.

Tips for Installing Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is an excellent choice for high-traffic areas. It can mimic many natural materials at a much lower price, and with improved durability and easier cleaning. 

1. Choosing Your Laminate

Laminate is made up of four layers: back, core, design, and wear. The back layer protects your subfloor from moisture and can keep the floor even and stable. The core is a strong and dense material that protects from indentation and similar damage. The design layer is a thin layer that is printed with the design of your choice. Some designs mimic wood floors or tile, while some are unique and artistic. The final top layer is the wear layer. The wear layer seals the laminate and protects against moisture, burns, spills, and fading. It is also easy to clean.

The choices for laminate include a wide variety of designs. Laminate comes in styles from the natural to the artistic, as well as various performance qualities and installation styles. Many types of laminate click together easily and float above the subfloor. Other types require more traditional installation with glue or adhesive.

2. Installing the Underlayer

An underlayer protects the subfloor, helps even it out, and may make the laminate quieter or softer to walk on. If you are installing a plywood underlayer over a cement foundation, the plywood should rest in the home for at least two days before installation. That gives the plywood time to adjust the temperature and humidity in your home. The acclimation avoids warping down the road.

3. Installing the Laminate

The laminate, like a plywood underlayment, should rest for two days in your home before installation. Laminate that is laid down when it is too cold may warp or buckle after installation.

Once the laminate is acclimated to your home, it is relatively easy to install. Most modern laminate will simply snap together, without even the need for tools. Expect your laminate to expand after installation. Leave a small gap between the wall and the outer edge of the laminate to avoid too much pressure as the laminate expands.

Professional Installation

Installing a floor may seem like a DIY project, but in most cases, professional help is called for. Improperly installed flooring can cause all sorts of problems, so installing it without the proper training could lead to disaster.

If you are ready to install a new floor, contact a TrustDALE certified flooring specialist today!