DIY Flooring Mistakes

While doing in-home consultations, Metro representatives often come across homeowners’ failed DIY attempts and botched jobs installed by unqualified professionals.

Through our experiences there are definitely common themes and particular mistakes that we see time and again. In this article we highlight the 5 most common DIY flooring mistakes and explain what should be done.

Most Common DIY Flooring Mistakes:

  1. Not Considering Moisture Content
  2. Not Preparing the Subfloor
  3. Lazy Layout
  4. Bad Racking
  5. Not Nailing Enough

Not Considering Moisture Content
Moisture content is, by far, the most common DIY issue with wood floors, especially within humid areas like Atlanta, GA. Wood planks will condense and expand depending on how much moisture is present in the environment. Expert installers will take into account the potential change in moisture content for the environment and there won’t be an issue as the boards expand with higher humidity levels. If the boards are placed too close to one another, and then they expand with moisture, the homeowner will start to see warping and cupping taking place on their floors. This costly mistake could potentially lead to the need for completely new floors.

Not Preparing the Subfloor
This is often what we find when DIY wood floors go wrong and the preparation work on the subfloor is at fault:

  • not flattening the subfloor
  • not cleaning blobs of drywall compound off the floor
  • not cleaning a contaminant off the slab
  • not checking the plywood for flatness, or installing over an inappropriate subfloor, such as particleboard.

According to Hardwood Floors Mag “The industry mantra for subfloors is that they should be clean, flat and dry.”

You will know there’s an issue with your subfloors if the following occurs:

  • a floating floor that has so much deflection, things on the end table shake when you walk by
  • prefinished solid floor that has overwood only in a few spots
  • a glue-down floor that has loose areas
  • a solid strip floor that squeaks in one or more places

Lazy Layout
Everyone home has its unique aspects and odd spots where installing wood flooring planks can be tricky. The homeowner doesn’t want their newly purchased wood floors to be off-center or look odd in any way. Common areas that pose particular difficulties with wood floor layouts include fireplaces, flooring vents, doorways, plus more.

Hardwood Floors Mag explains: “Everyone knows that most rooms in a house aren’t perfectly square. Wise installers find out ahead of time and plan ahead so their floor will look the best in the places where it matters the most.”

Bad Racking
Expert installers, who are well aware of the proper way to rack a floor, often see examples of bad racking jobs all over the place. It’s a part of installation that is often done incorrectly, but is not it’s definitely not the most difficult and simply requires some awareness. Not one spot on a well racked floor should catch your, or the homeowner’s, eye.

Most common racking sins:

  • End joints too close together: For standard strip flooring, the latest guideline is the distance between end joints in adjoining rows should be at least three times the width of the flooring when the grade and the material allow.
  • H-joints: These happen when end joints line up with one row between them.
  • Lightning bolts/stair steps: Whatever you call them, the name describes them—joints that fall evenly spaced in a series of rows such that they have the appearance of a flight of stairs or a lightning bolt. Oftentimes they repeat in a floor when there are the same fixed lengths in a box or a bundle.

Not Nailing Enough
Wood floors that don’t have enough fasteners will be loose to walk on and will move and make noise. It’s hard to imagine a DIY-er not putting enough nails. Maybe they think that they are saving on costs perhaps? Either way, the mistake will show up right away during a flooring inspection.

Basic Rules for Fasteners:

  • Every board must have at least two fasteners.
  • There should be a fastener 1 to 3 inches from each board end.
  • For standard strip flooring, the preferred fastener spacing is every 8 to 10 inches (up to 12 inches is considered acceptable).
  • For plank flooring 4 inches and wider, nailing every 6 to 8 inches is the standard.
  • Always follow the directions of the flooring manufacturer.

For more information and additional learning we recommending taking a closer look at this article from Hardwood Floors Mag: 5 Wood Flooring Installation Sins

5 Most Common DIY Flooring Mistakes