Installing new floors in your house is probably one of those DIY projects on your list. Whether your new floor will be vinyl, laminate, tile or carpeting, there are three important steps that apply to them all. As with most things in construction, the quality of a new flooring project begins with a solid foundation. Keep these steps in mind when installing a new floor in your house.
Subfloor Squeak Repair
A squeaky floor in hallways was useful to rulers who wanted to know when enemies were sneaking up on them. They were called nightingale floors and are found in such places as Nijo Castle in Japan. In the typical home, squeaky floors are just annoying. Those squeaks in the subfloor do not go away just because you put a new floor on top.
Glue and screws are much better at fixing squeaky spots than just pounding a few nails. It is likely that loose nails are the cause of the original squeaks. You want a solid and permanent bond of the subflooring over the joists to eliminate squeaky spot. Damaged areas should be replaced with new subflooring material. Slight height mismatches can be repaired with floor leveling compound or sanding.
High and low spots telegraph to whatever flooring material you install over a subfloor. This is especially true for vinyl floor. Laminate flooring may not even install correctly if the floor is not level. Floor leveling compound is easy to pour if you mix it to the proper consistency and work fast. A level subfloor underneath your new floor makes for an easier to finish and much better looking floor renovation project.
Mixing floor leveling compound exactly according to the manufacturer’s directions is very important. If it is too thick, it may not self-level before it begins to set. If it is too thin, there is the concern of it not curing correctly. The human eye can detect slight dips and rises in an otherwise perfect floor. Taking the time to make sure the floor is level before installing the finished floor on top is worth it.
Underlayment and Vapor Barrier
Laminate flooring may come with underlayment already attached to the back of each plank. If not, use rolls of premium underlayment. Skipping this step will result in a noisy floor, and not just a few squeaky spots either. The entire floor surface is likely to make a lot of noise with every step. There are different grades of underlayment that are available. Even if you are installing budget laminate flooring, spend a few extra dollars to get a better underlayment.
If you are installing flooring over concrete, use a vapor barrier. The vapor barrier should be taped together to make one solid sheet that covers the entire floor and extends a few inches up the wall on each side. You cut away the excess after you finish installing your flooring. Vapor barriers prevent problems with condensation that can cause rot.
It is easy to want to get to the step in renovating your floor that involves the actual finished floor. However, the more work you put into properly preparing the foundation surface underneath your new floor, the happier you will be with the finished project as well as the actual labor needed to install the new flooring. Taking shortcuts will result in noisy floors and an overall amateur look to the finished job.