Flooring Faux-Pas: How to Avoid Making Mega-Dollar Flooring Mistakes - DezignSpace

Flooring Faux-Pas: How to Avoid Making Mega-Dollar Flooring Mistakes

Flooring can be a significant investment of both time and money, so it’s essential to get it right. When approached incorrectly, it inevitably leads to a lot of frustration, wasted dollars, and may even mean that your project needs to be totally redone. But let us help you avoid all that. Sound good? 


Let’s look at the top flooring flops homeowners make and learn from their mistakes:  


Mistake 1: Underestimating Project Timelines

Most homeowners tend to significantly underestimate the amount of time a renovation project can take. Of course, the time needed varies from project to project; some are completed in a day, whereas others can take much longer. 

Let’s zero in on a floor refinishing project: After you’ve made your design/style choices, the typical timeline to complete the work is three to ten days, not including lead times and shipping times. For example, if you’re importing Italian stone tile, that could extend your timeline considerably. You need to take into account labor and lead times. However, what most people don’t anticipate is that they must wait an additional four days before ANYTHING can touch those floors. No furniture, no feet, no you. Depending on the project’s location, this might mean you need to be out of the house. Need a vacation? There’s your excuse, you’re welcome!


Mistake 2: Hiring the Least Expensive Contractor 

Naturally, you’ll want to get a few estimates. However, the issue is that people choose the name next to the lowest number too often. Low bids often mean cut corners. Think about it: Contractors are very aware of what typical project costs and what their competitors charge. If one is underbidding, they will look for other ways to secure their profit. That may be through hastily done work, cheaper materials, or not completing on time due to taking on other projects. This isn’t to say that plenty of disasters haven’t happened with high-end, high-cost contractors, so do your due diligence by researching, asking around, and reading reviews. 

Want to know how to interview and choose a contractor? This resource is worth its weight in gold, so don’t miss it: How to Hire a General Contractor


Mistake 3: Skimping on Materials

Here’s the deal, peeps. You get what you pay for, and cheap products are cheap for a reason. There is a clear difference between low-end and mid-range to high-end materials, both in durability and appearance.

Additionally, bargain-priced products can contain harmful VOCs from the adhesives that off-gas into the air you breathe. If that doesn’t convince you to fork out a little more, we don’t know what will. 


Mistake 4: Choosing Materials Based on a Small Sample

Both stone and wood have dynamic patterns, meaning that a single flooring piece will look different from the other, even in the same box. An itty bitty sample makes it really difficult to get a sense of how it will look over a large area in your home. 

Sure, you can look at the manufacturer’s website room examples, but you need to know how it’s going to look in your home, not a staged one. The solution? Whenever available, ask for and/or purchase the larger sample size.

PRO TIP: NEVER EVER EVER pick a floor from a sample; always buy a full carton of the material and lay it out in the space, if at all possible, with the correct lighting. 


Mistake 5: Waxing Wood Floors

Wax is for eyebrows, ladies and gentlemen, not for floors. At least not as long as polyurethane exists, which lasts much longer and protects floors better. If you’re still waxing your floors, stop it. You’ll only need to refinish your floors sooner due to the wax eating away at the poly seal. 


Here are a few more wood flooring no-nos: ammonia, oil, bleach, vinegar, lemon juice, and steam mops. 



Mistake 6: DIY Overconfidence

While DIY projects can reduce overall project costs, you might bite off more than you can chew. Most flooring installations require advanced skills, so it’s probably best left to the professional.

When the installation is done incorrectly, the problems you encounter down the road can be expensive and time-consuming. WE CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH – There are certain things you should pay a skilled professional to do unless, of course, you happen to be a general contractor. If you’re feeling brave and still want to go for it, it’s crucial to fully understand the installation project’s scope and complexity. You should also check out the flooring manufacturer’s website to see if they offer any DIY information.


Mistake 7: Overlooking the Subfloor

A subfloor is the anchoring structure upon which all the floors are installed. It may be cement or plywood, depending on how your home is constructed. Your subfloor must be evenly flat, structurally sound, clean, and dry before the installation of your new floor. For example, wood subfloors are subject to water damage, termites, mold, and dry rot, which will weaken their structure and create an uneven surface. Concrete subfloors are usually uneven and need to be leveled before the installation of the new floor. This can be complicated even further if your house has had any movement, settled, or sagged.

 You catch a bit of break if you’re installing carpet- the pad will hide the fact that a subfloor is damaged or uneven. Flooring installations that fail due to a lack of proper floor preparation and/or leveling will likely void the manufacturer’s warranty, so do yourself a favor and start your project the right way. 

Have you made any of these flooring mistakes? Tell us about it in the comments! We love a good drama! 

Are you ready for more flooring action? Check this out! Flooring Fundamentals: How to Choose the Right Flooring for Your Home in The Library!

2 thoughts on this post

  1. Did I ever tell you about the time I refinished my sub-floors? Ha! Well, it was our 1st home, an 1886 bungalow that had wood flooring beneath wall to wall area rugs. I was overjoyed.. Then I did the biggest DIY blunder; I rented a big belt sander, an oscillating sander, picked out a stain and a polyurethane sealer. In the process I had discovered a hole so I called a Carpenter friend to come repair it. After examining the situation and chuckling, he said, look through the hole in floor, do you see dirt way down there? Yep. Hate to tell you but you now have a very beautiful subfloor! These planks of tongue and groove Douglas fir are how it was done before plywood. Yep, that happened. Don’t try this at home, kids!

  2. That is a very funny story @firstcrush I am hoping to either refinish or replace my red oak hardwood floors. Not sure which way to go yet. If anyone reading this article has done a engineered floor or refinished their 1960 red oak narrow plank floors I would love to hear about it.

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