Worker Installing Home Floor. Carpenter Laying Laminate Flooring

Recently we had a conversation with homeowners who decided to install luxury vinyl tile (LVT) flooring themselves.
Below we address some of their concerns and offer advice from the “Do For You” (DFY) community. 

We have the old carpet up and are about to lay the new floor. Before we do, should we consider painting? Having the furniture moved out of the room so you can replace the floor is certainly a help, but opinion is divided on when the best time to paint is. Contractors are always concerned about other trades coming in after then and making a mess of their work. Our typical workflow is to paint the walls, install the floors, and then have the painters return to install the shoe molding and touch up any dings to the walls. 

Pro Tip: Our favorite painter likes to joke that if you are going to replace the flooring anyway, might as well let him get in first and then take it up. There will always be little things to address along the way. Clear communication and setting expectations goes a long way toward preventing issues from becoming problems.

We took a quarter to the flooring sample to approximate our dog’s nails as a test for durability. Do you think that is fine? Funnily enough many abrasion resistance tests are not much different in principle. A slightly more scientific way to determine the durability of your intended vinyl flooring is to look up the thickness of the wear layer in the specs. It should be clearly listed on the box or website. Personally we like a 20 Mil wear layer for homes with pets, or children, or guests…

Pro Tip: Texture is another extremely important consideration when choosing LVT. Not only do we not want your pets claws to scratch the floor, but we also don’t want them sliding all over the place unable to get any traction. If you can feel the texture of the floor with your hand, it is likely sufficient for them.

We only have experience installing hardwood and Pergo laminate flooring. Do you have any LVT installation tips we need to keep in mind? The very first thing you need to do upon receiving your product is to inspect it. Open the box and look not just for damage, but to make sure that all of the pieces are from the same dye-lot. Once you are satisfied the colors match, “shuffle” the patterns to make sure you don’t have multiple pieces that look the same next to each other. Lastly install the pieces varying the ending point by a third on each board. The illusion is ruined if there is a seam line across the entire floor or every other board.

Pro Tip: Plan out your installation and take your time. If you have to remove previously installed boards, you risk breaking the flanges that hold the pieces together tightly. Also, as you install in a single direction, realizing you made a mistake can mean undoing most if not all of your work.

One of my concerns is liquid getting underneath the flooring and becoming trapped. Is that something that we should be worried about? Assuming you took care not to break any of the flanges and installed the pieces correctly, there should be a tight enough fit that water or other fluids should not penetrate the seams. Obviously the Grand Canyon was cut by water, so while nothing is immune, you should be fine.

Pro Tip: Some products require specific tools or special certification in order for the manufacturer to honor the warranty. Keep that in mind when you do it yourself or even when you hire someone other than a certified professional.

How important is addressing any issue with the subfloor while we have the chance? It is much easier to get at the subfloor now and certainly any known issue should be addressed. There isn’t much point in buying fancy running shoes if your foot is broken. Ignoring the issue won’t make it go away and will increase the expense and hassle of correcting it in the future.

Pro Tip: If part of your subfloor woes involve concerns about pets and liquids, natural (as opposed to synthetic) shellac to seal all the subfloors before laying new flooring. Wear a respirator, open the windows, and shut off any potential source of ignition. When you are done, no odors will penetrate the new shellac layer.

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