How to Install New Floors

Ysobel Croix | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011

New floors are in your home's future, but you're not sure if you're up for the do-it-yourself floor installation project. Don't let hardwood floors intimidate you before you've learned enough about how to install new floors to weigh the pros and cons of do-it-yourself floor installation.

Things to consider when installing hardwood floors

  1. Product quality. Many finished hardwood flooring products are created specifically for DIY installation. You'll need to be vigilant about inspecting and sorting all the boards for flaws, warping and irregular-width prior to installation.
  2. Installation method. Strip hardwood floors and parquet floors require different installation methods, as do wooden and concrete subfloors. You need to be confident that you can neatly complete a job correctly, with the right equipment, before you attempt an installation.
  3. The room. A rectangular room without floor vents and a perfectly level wood subfloor will make for much easier installation. If you have irregularly shaped rooms, creaky or unlevel subfloor, staircases or railings, you'll need to do additional planning and prep.
  4. You. Do you have the skill or time for a DIY project? Do you want to learn how to install new floors properly? Figure out your level of interest and how much your time is worth. Can you handle the physical demand? If you have bad knees or a bad back, installing flooring is a project you might want to skip.

One DIYer, Dan, saved $10,000 by installing hardwood floors throughout his home himself. His advice? Buy a new tape measure for the project. "You will wear one out doing a house full of hardwood. Just take it one room at a time to avoid divorce," jokes Dan. Though Dan considers himself a pretty accomplished woodworker, he says hardwood floor installation took a lot of hard work.

Costs included in professional floor installation

When someone installs your new floors, you're typically paying for more than just hard work. When getting quotes, find out what's included in the cost:

  1. Old flooring removal and disposal
  2. Subfloor repair and prep
  3. Door adjusting/rehanging
  4. Worksite clean-up
  5. Guarantee of product and workmanship

The World Floor Covering Association offers this guidance on completing floor installation yourself: "If you want to attempt a do-it-yourself installation, only consider a do-it-yourself-friendly product. Should you desire a higher-end, more tailored look with a warranty included, leave the heavy lifting to the professionals."