Flooring installation can challenge even the most experienced pros. Each material can be problematic in its own way. Mishandling these trouble spots can trap an installer into attempting a cosmetic cover-up, or require a return call to address a quality issue. Heed this advice when laying floors and avoid these common flooring installation mistakes.
Starting a Wood Floor in the Wrong Place
Many people look for the longest, straightest wall. Always start at the focal point of the floor. That could be near a door jamb, a stair nosing or a floor register.
Starting somewhere easy and finishing at the hard spot can leave you in a difficult place, with little flexibility and few options. By starting in these highly visible or difficult locations, you can call the shots on row positioning and where joints fall. That results in a much more attractive floor.
Cutting Around the Door Jamb
As a transition between rooms, doors create specific challenges in a flooring installation. Floor boards need to be cut to fit properly through the doorway, but too many installers fail to undercut the jamb. Rather than trimming the end of the door jamb, casing and trim, they cut around it. That often leaves visible gaps that need to be covered with caulk, and that doesn’t look good – it’s not professional.
All that cutting actually costs installers more time and effort. Use a scrap board to mark the top of the flooring on the jamb. Then, one easy cut with a multi tool will allow you to slide the floor board underneath it and your work is done.
In a finished wood floor, the outermost rows near the walls need to remain secure so that the entire floor remains tightly fitted. It is a good idea to glue at least three rows, maybe four — anything that you cannot reach with your stapler or cleat nailer. There’s a lot of movement in those last couple of rows, so to avoid this, always glue all the start rows and all the finishing rows.
Failing to Prepare Your Laminate Layout
For any type of plank flooring, don’t rush careful measuring and planning. Many people simply pick the longest wall and start laying flooring, but that wall could be out of alignment with the rest of the house. Take multiple measurements and check each room before starting.
Usually, the seams in the sub floors are pretty straight. A chalk line is snapped when they install it, so the seams are pretty straight with all the walls. Then you can find the longest area of the house that you can snap a line through by measuring off the plywood seam and check the walls off that line. The whole process takes just 15 or 20 minutes and sets up the floor for the best presentation throughout the house.
Trimming Out Floors With Baseboard Only
All floors require a gap at the walls to account for expansion and contraction of the floor – the recommended gap often measures 1/4-in. to 3/8-in. Common baseboard trim also measures 1/4-in. to 3/8-in. in thickness and therefore may not adequately cover the flooring edge as the seasons change.
Many homeowners, however, demand the installer not use any extra trim in addition to the baseboard. They try to keep that gap tighter because they don’t want to put an extra shoe mould or quarter-round along the baseboard. Unfortunately, that improper gap size often voids the warranty on the floor. A truly professional installer will go so far as to been deny jobs when the client says they only want baseboards there.
Avoid these common mistakes and you’ll have an uncommonly well-installed floor.