Installing new floor coverings is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to update the look of any room in your home. Carpet and vinyl flooring (either sheet or tile) are two very popular choices, both for their durability and their low cost. Installing these materials can be done on a DIY basis, or you may choose to have your flooring professionally installed. Either way, this simple process will be made even easier if you're careful to avoid some common errors.
In this article, we'll take a look at some of the most common mistakes made by homeowners when choosing, installing and maintaining carpet and vinyl flooring. Occasionally, some of these mistakes are made by the pros, too, so be on the lookout for any obvious errors and ask about them before the workers leave your home.
Failure to Consider Use and Abuse
Far too many homeowners make the mistake of choosing a flooring material with little or no thought put into the amount of use the floor will receive. The members of your household factor into this decision. If you are, for example, part of a working couple with no children and no pets, your floors will probably receive far less abuse than a large family with several children running around. Likewise, different rooms receive different types and amounts of use. A kitchen floor needs to be able to stand up to spills, while a bathroom floor encounters more moisture than any other room in the house.
Failing to take these factors into consideration can lead to some expensive and annoying consequences. Often, a homeowner will install plush, shag carpeting (notoriously hard to clean) in a family room which is frequented by children, pets and other family members. Unless you enjoy renting a carpet cleaner on a regular basis, try to avoid this type of mistake.
Rooms which are used frequently and often encounter spills should feature flooring which is easy to clean and durable. Keep this in mind when shopping, and you'll save yourself endless hours of tedious cleaning in the future.
Hiring Inexperienced Workers
Easily the most common error in the world of home improvement, hiring inexperienced workers to install your new flooring can lead to many unwanted consequences. Each type of flooring has special needs and requirements. If you're paying the money to have a professional come and install your floor for you, rather than tackling the project on a DIY basis, you have a right to expect a certain level of expertise.
Before making a hiring decision, ask how long the worker has been in the business. Experience translates into skill. This is especially important if your home is older, since there may be issues with an inadequate or uneven sub-floor. A good contractor or flooring professional will be able to spot these issues and give you options; an inexperienced worker might never notice them in the first place.
Always insist on insured workers. No licensing is required to put down carpet or vinyl flooring (if a sub-floor project becomes necessary, licensed workers may become necessary, depending on where you live). However, any contractor or worker needs to carry insurance. This protects them in the event of an injury, and it also protects you. If an uninsured worker becomes injured while working on your property, the medical bills could fall on your shoulders. Insist on insurance for the sake of everybody involved.
Applying Flooring on an Unprepared Surface
A very common mistake made during the installation of carpeting and vinyl flooring is failure to prepare the underlying surface. Whether this is a wooden sub-floor or a concrete basement floor, it must be properly prepared.
In most cases, this is a simple matter of cleaning. Make sure that the surface is clean and one hundred percent dry before you begin. If you're dealing with a basement floor that is often damp, you might want to rethink your options. Sealing moisture to the concrete or cement floor will only speed up moisture damage. Talk with a basement specialist to determine what your best course of action might be for keeping your home dry and structurally sound.
If you discover that your sub-floor is damaged or otherwise compromised, you're looking at much more than a simple carpet or vinyl flooring installation. A contractor or flooring professional will be needed in order to repair or replace the sub-floor. In most areas, a work permit will need to be obtained. If you can't afford this right now, in terms of time or money, it's much better to wait. Don't make the mistake of putting new flooring over an inadequate base. You'll just be wasting your money, and you'll be faced with repairs and replacements. Save until you can afford to do the job right.
Attempting Too Much DIY
These days, everybody is concerned with cutting costs. While it's great to tackle a home improvement job on your own and save money, be certain that you will actually be saving yourself money by attempting to DIY. Unfortunately, many homeowners take on DIY flooring jobs without the proper knowledge or skill, resulting in costly repairs and replacements.
With so many videos and how-to instructions available, it's easy to assume that literally anybody, at any skill level, can install carpet or vinyl flooring. However, this is not the case. As helpful and useful as they are, a video simply can't compare to years of hands-on experience. While you don't have to be a pro to install flooring properly, it pays to acquire all the knowledge and skill that you possibly can before beginning. Watch all the videos, read all the how-to guides, and, best of all, talk with a pro about common mistakes. If you can afford it, have a professional consultation — a professional eye may spot a potential mistake you never would have noticed, saving you money in repairs and essentially making the consultation free!
Certain types of flooring are easier for the novice to install than others. Patterned carpets and sheet vinyl, for example, are more difficult than solid-color or tile alternatives. If you know that your skill level isn't up to the tedious tasks of matching up patterns and making long, straight cuts, consider other options.
Vinyl tiles are widely considered to be the easiest of all DIY flooring projects. While there are still plenty of details which need attention, these simple squares of flooring are about as easy as it gets. Instead of making long cuts, you can trim each tile as needed. Instead of worrying about how much glue is needed and whether it's setting too quickly, you can glue each tile as you put it in place. Vinyl tile also gives you personalization options that sheet vinyl can't, such as the choice of how to place the tiles (diagonal, straight, offset).
Regardless of which type of flooring you choose, remember that professional flooring installers exist for a reason. If you honestly don't have the skills (or time) necessary to complete your flooring project properly, then hiring a pro will most likely cost you less money in the long run.
Installing Cold Vinyl
Although it sounds a bit odd, this is actually one of the most common mistakes made during a vinyl flooring installation. It's a common practice to keep flooring and other installation materials outside in a truck or SUV until you're ready to begin. Instead of being convenient, this is actually a great way to set yourself up for a lumpy, warped floor!
Like any other material, vinyl contracts when it becomes cold. If you install the vinyl flooring (sheet or tiles) while it's cold, the tile will eventually warm up and expand. Far too many homeowners have installed a beautiful floor...only to look at it the next day and see lumps and buckles.
Thankfully, this unsightly and endlessly frustrating mistake is extremely simple to avoid. Before you begin your project, bring all materials inside and let them sit at room temperature for at least forty eight hours. This amount of time will give the vinyl a chance to expand to its true size, allowing you to install it without worry.
Cutting Costs Through Cheap Materials
Another common mistake caused by good intentions, this is another which is easily avoided. Simply remember that you get what you pay for. Many homeowners make the mistake of purchasing the least expensive carpet or vinyl flooring in the store, simply because it's the cheapest. However, the cheapest products are made with the cheapest materials. In addition, they usually look cheap.
You don't have to spend ridiculous amounts of money to get a beautiful floor. Many mid-range products offer plenty of colors, patterns and, most importantly, quality. Ask a knowledgeable home center employee for recommendations if you're uncertain.
In addition to looking cheap, cheap flooring is also more likely to wear out. This pretty much eliminates any saved initial costs, since you'll end up needing to replace that "bargain" flooring much sooner than you would a quality product. Choose something affordable yet high-quality for the best-looking immediate results and the longest-lasting value.
As you can see, avoiding common carpet and vinyl flooring mistakes is as easy as slowing down, educating yourself and asking the right questions of any potential hires. Choose your materials and workers carefully, and you'll end up with a beautiful and affordable floor that will stand the test of time.