Laminate Flooring Installation: PRO or DIY?
You’ve searched through the numerous flooring options out there today and you’ve settled on laminate. Great choice! Laminate is known for its impressive durability and easy maintenance. At the same time, it’s one of the more affordable flooring options, making it easy on your wallet as well. In fact, many people go with laminate largely because of its budget-friendly price, so it’s no surprise homeowners often hope they’ll be able to save even more by installing their new laminate floors on their own.
However, is DIY installation really the best option when it comes to laminate? Be sure to keep the following considerations in mind when deciding whether to do it yourself or to hire professionals to get the job done.
Consider the Space
Perhaps the first question you need to ask yourself when considering DIY laminate flooring installation is, “How good am I with a tape measure?” The layout of your space will be critical for correct installation. Therefore, if you struggle with measuring the space, it could lead to some big hiccups in the installation process. Homeowners who don’t feel confident figuring out the square footage of a particular room might want to opt for a professional installation.
If you are handy with a tape measure, however, you should follow these steps to measure for DIY flooring installation:
- Measure the dimensions of the space where you plan to install your laminate floors. Multiply the length by the width to get the square footage.
- Add at least 10 percent to the square footage total. This will give you a little extra to work with based on the cuts you need to make to fit the space or a potential mistake along the way.
- Place your order with the manufacturer based on the number you received in Step 2.
Consider the Costs
Can you afford to have professionals install your new floors? In addition to the labor costs, you’ll also be billed for materials, cleanup, and disposal. And don’t forget about other add-ons such as furniture-moving costs and delivery fees. It can add up quickly, which is why many people prefer to save money by installing their own laminate floors.
DIY installation is significantly cheaper, but remember that it’s not free. In addition to the personal time and effort you’ll spend on the project, you’ll have to invest in materials to prep the subfloor and supplies such as grout, nails, screws, sealer, adhesives, stain, or baseboards. You may also need to purchase or to rent equipment to complete the installation.
What Tools and Materials Do You Need?
For first-time DIYers, the prospect of putting in laminate floors on your own may be a little daunting. Use this list of laminate flooring installation tools and materials to make sure you have everything you need to get the job done:
- Wall spacer blocks
- Tapping block
- Rubber mallet
- Pry bar
- Straight edge
- Carpenter’s square
- Tape measure
- Utility knife
- Saw (miter saw, power saw, circular saw, power jigsaw, or handsaw)
- Broom and dustpan
- Protective gear (dust mask, safety glasses, and kneepads).
How About the Underlayment?
Make sure you find out whether you need to install underlayment with your laminate flooring. In most cases, manufacturers recommend you include underlayment to prolong the life of your floors. Laminate flooring is actually quite thin, so underlayment helps to make it feel less hollow underfoot. In addition, the underlayment helps to act as a sound barrier, since otherwise, it can be relatively loud when walked on. In fact, some homeowners (like those who live in a condo building) may be required to include underlayment with their laminate flooring for soundproofing purposes.
Underlayment can also be used to address subfloor imperfections. If the subfloor isn’t perfectly flat, it can slowly cause damage to your laminate floors if there’s no support underneath. In the case of a subfloor that’s in particularly bad shape, you may want to hire professionals to make sure your underlayment and laminate are installed correctly.
Will you be installing your laminate on concrete slab, tile, or cement board? Will the flooring be located directly above a crawlspace or other nonclimate-controlled area? If so, you will probably need moisture-proof underlayment to protect your floors from damage.
If your laminate needs underlayment, it will add a bit of time to the DIY installation process. The good news is that if your subfloors aren’t terribly uneven, this is something homeowners can typically do as a DIY project. Some types of laminate flooring even come with preattached underlayment for easier installation. If you decide to go with professional installers instead, keep in mind that the cost will likely be higher to accommodate for including the underlayment.
Are You Installing Around Stairs?
After considering the potential challenges mentioned above, many homeowners decide to save some cash and tackle a DIY installation for their new laminate flooring. However, there’s one last obstacle that could make you change your mind — installing laminate on stairs.
Due to the tricky nature of cutting the laminate for each stair to just the right size, this can make a DIY project much more difficult to complete. If your stairs have spindles attached to the risers, it can complicate matters further by requiring you to trace and cut out openings for each spindle.
There are two options for homeowners intimidated by the thought of DIY laminate flooring installation on stairs. First, you can hire a professional for your entire laminate installation. If that sounds a bit too pricey, you can also hire the pros just to complete the stairs. That way, you save money by installing the rest of the flooring yourself, but you get a flawless application on the tricky stairs.
Laminate flooring is one of the best choices for budget-minded homeowners. It allows you to give your home a makeover without breaking the bank, and most individuals can complete the installation on their own with a little help from online tutorials. If there are tricky aspects to your installation, however, such as a winding staircase or a wildly uneven subfloor, don’t hesitate to call in the pros to make sure your new flooring is installed just right.