Whether it is for budget reasons, the love of a challenge or a sense of self-achievement, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) is a popular option these days.
Depending on your skills and the size and difficulty of the project – as well as the type of product – installing flooring by yourself can either be a real cost-saver or a complete disaster!
In general, it is felt that floating floor systems which do not involve glue and are easily installed using a ‘click-and-lock’ feature are good choices for DIY.
These include laminate flooring, engineered hardwood, cork and bamboo flooring.
However, for other types of flooring, such as vinyl, hardwood and carpet, it may be best to hire professionals, despite the extra cost.
One way of compromising, if budget is a real issue, is to source the product from wholesalers yourself rather than from retail outlets and then hire specific labour just for installation – although this depends on your being confident of finding a good installer.
If you are preparing to have a go at DIY installation, here are some points to keep in mind:
- Before you start, it is essential that you make sure the surface underneath a floating floor system is solid, even and dry. For example, if laying over concrete, make sure that any newly poured concrete is completely dry – this usually takes one month per 25mm of thickness so for an average concrete slab of 125mm thickness, you will need to wait 5 months from the date of pour to be absolutely sure of dryness.
- Don’t rush it- take time to plan thoroughly before you start. Study the area to be covered and think about how the flooring should finish in specific junctions, e.g., with other surfaces or around built-in furniture.
- In order to create the illusion of a bigger room make sure that the strips of laminate run in the direction of the room.
- To create a more natural appearance, alternate the strips of laminate; i.e. longer pieces and shorter pieces can be intermixed next to doorways, as well as in the middle of the room.
- Remember to leave a ¼ of an inch gap along the wall to allow for expansion.
- Check the foam underlay recommended by the supplier of the laminate flooring – this will act as a vapour barrier and sound-dampener and must be rolled out one width at a time, as you lay the floor.
- Always dry-fit first before applying glue (does not apply to click-and-lock systems).
- If installing any kind of timber, don’t just start installing the minute you bring the product home. It is a good idea to store them in the room they are going to be installed in – loosely stacked – so that they can acclimatise to the moisture and temperature levels. This usually requires 2-3 days.
- If you intend to install Underfloor Insulation or Heating make sure you see professional advice.
Regardless of your experience, always follow the specific instructions provided by the laminate manufacturer – not only do they know their product best but if you fail to follow their instructions or ignore their recommendation for certain installation products and procedures, you may lose your warranty.