10 Tips & Tricks When You're Installing Your Own Floors

Well guys, the unbelievable happened. I finally got rid of the nasty carpet in our basement. I kid you not, you can truly smell a difference. Everything is so clean now, and it's starting to not even look like a basement! (And with us only having the upstairs and the basement, this is the goal). 

So I was on vacation this past week and got to start my basement overhaul. We tore out the carpet, cleaned concrete, laid new floors, installed new trim, painted all the baseboards, painted the basement doors and hardware, painted the stairwell, hung a new light fixture, and made new window treatments. All that's left is redoing the basement stairs to match the floor and working on our "mudroom." Well and installing a basement bathroom, but I have a feeling that's not in the budget. 

I learned how to use three different kinds of saws and a nail gun. We also managed to save about $1,400 from installing everything ourselves. Not to say it wasn't the devil. And that we didn't make mistakes or utter curse words. So I figured for you fellow DIYer's looking to save some money while renovating, I would offer some tips and tricks as you work through installing your own floors. 

1. Use a crowbar when tearing out carpet. 
There is no real rhyme or or reason to how to go about starting this. Just grab a corner                 and tear. And prepare yourself for the horrible things you will find underneath the carpet. 

2. Wear a mask and gloves.
Did I mention the horrible things you will find under the carpet?

3. Have a dumpster, multiple trashcans, or an empty spot in the garage to house all the trash.

4. Have a circular saw, a table saw, and an oscillating saw available. 
Snap and click my butt. Sure that's the general idea, but any door frame, less than perfect           right angle, nook or cranny requires some serious thinking for how to continue that row. 

5. Measure Twice, Cut Once.
Cannot tell you how many times my dad has told me this, but the fewer boards you                 waste, the less you'll spend.

You will make mistakes, waste materials, have to spend double the time correcting                   something, or loose a finger. 

7. Make sure you leave your 1/4 inch gaps along the walls, but check that you're not too far out that the quarter round can cover it! 
Quarter round made everything pretty. But in some spots we were a little too far out and           had to shift things over. Checking as we went saved us from some serious spackle and             headache. 

8. From that same thought, leave yourself a little longer pieces into closets
That way if you do a poor job of installing the transition piece it's behind closed doors                 anyway. 

9. For the plastic underlay that you use in basements, cut and lay it out just one row ahead of the floor you're laying. 
Otherwise you will walk all over it, get dirt on it, and be applying floor over, now dirty, uneven concrete. And the dirt can puncture holes in the underlay. You'll be sweeping and cleaning constantly through this whole process, trust me. 

10. Trim and Spackle are your best friends.
You don't have to be a professional to install your own floor. But these two guys were life savers at polishing everything up. I painted all of the baseboards with a fresh coat of white, and you won't believe how much cleaner it looks. Oh, also your friend is a nail gun. Terrifying, loud, and was constantly concerned I was going to shoot it through my foot or hand, but it made the trim installation a million times faster. 

I'm seriously giddy that it's all done. I have been complaining about that carpet since we moved in. And after pulling it up, I have proof that it was justified. The basement looks so much less like a basement, it no longer smells, is easy to clean, and looks fantastic. Plus we got a good deal with 1st of the year sales and installing it ourselves. Not the funnest week of my life, but the results were 100% worth it!

Up next is basement stairs, door blinds, and mudroom! Eeek! I would love to help you get your project started! What's next on your list??