There are several flooring choices that homeowners can install on their own if their home’s subfloor is solid. However, if the project requires any bracing, joist work or faces other structural challenges, it’s best to hire a professional. Here are the steps to follow to redo your home’s flooring the right way if you’re selling your house or fixing up a new one.

Select the Material

If you’re doing the work yourself, plan to install a material that you can do in small chunks of space. For example, a tile floor can be installed in sections once you’ve found the center of the room and determined your layout. Tile flooring is also a great option in areas that can be damp, such as in bathrooms or basements. Carefully review what the subfloor requirements are for any project. Using cheap materials and other mistakes make a floor collapse more likely. Putting a flexible underlayment under vinyl will make for a very comfortable floor. However, putting the same underlayment under ceramic tile may mean that your grout will crack easily.


Flooring installation doesn’t have to be difficult if you buy the right material. There are several kinds of engineered wood and vinyl planks that click together and can be done by a homeowner. It’s important that you invest in the right tools and gear. For example, knee pads are critical. If you can’t wear knee pads, check out the garden supply section of your hardware store for kneeling pads. If you have back problems, make sure to schedule plenty of breaks. DIYers should stick with smaller material projects. Installing sheet vinyl takes careful measuring, and stretching carpet requires hand strength and specialized tools. Carpet tiles, vinyl tile, vinyl plank, and ceramic tile can all be worked in smaller sections by a homeowner.


If your flooring is terribly beaten up, but your budget doesn’t allow for a replacement, you can update a floor with paint. Be aware that the prep work for this can be intensive. You will need to remove any finish currently on the wood, and you’ll likely want to do this with an oil-based paint, which can be quite smelly and take a long time to dry. However, if your wood floors can’t be salvaged and your budget is very small, sandpaper and stenciling can help you create a unique flooring pattern to improve the floor’s look until you can afford to update.

Installing flooring takes planning and the willingness to get your hands dirty. If you’re not able to stretch carpet or properly map out sheet vinyl, look for smaller sections of flooring material. Make sure the subfloor and joists are in good shape before you start, and if there are structural concerns, bring in a professional to look at bracing or doubling joists as necessary.


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