Wood floors are a beautiful addition to any home; however, hardwoods are not always the easiest do-it-yourself flooring project. Even with a step-by-step hardwood installation guide, wood floors can be a challenge for even the handiest do-it-yourselfer.
Fortunately, there are easy-to-install flooring options that can add the look of wood to a home without being terribly difficult to install. All of these floors can be installed as floating floors, which means they do not require adhesive.
Though they don’t require adhesive, these floating floors do come with some do’s and don’ts that ensure an easy install and prevents any long-term issues.
- Do bring the floors into the home at least 3 days before the install. This is called acclimation, and allows the floor to adjust to the humidity and conditions of the home. If floors are not acclimated, they can cup and buckle.
- Don’t forget to ask about underlayment. Some floors require an underlayment by the manufacturer; always ask a local flooring pro about any required underlayment to ensure the warranty is not voided.
- Do prepare the surface for the wood floor installation. All DIY wood floors should be installed over a clean and level surface. Before laying any flooring, the subfloor should be level and clear of staples and debris.
- Don’t install the flooring without leaving an expansion gap. Wood floors tend to expand and contract over time, which is why an expansion gap is an important part of a DIY wood flooring install. If wood floors are installed without an expansion gap, the floors can cup and buckle.
- Do purchase extra boards when ordering. Ask a local flooring professional for the exact amount of “extra” boards to purchase; it can be invaluable to have extra boards after the installation.
DIY Wood Flooring Options
The biggest benefit of engineered hardwood flooring is that it’s as close to solid wood floor but with a huge benefit. Engineered hardwoods are made of a base layer with a layer of solid wood flooring over the top. The flooring is fairly easy to install (especially with these step-by-step engineered hardwood instructions), especially when the product is made to interlock during installation. Because it is made in layers, some engineered hardwood floors can be sanded down and refinished.
After installation, engineered hardwoods look great, are incredibly durable, and are fairly easy-to-clean. Engineered hardwoods come in a variety of widths and colors. Unlike solid wood floors, engineered wood floors can be installed in a basement. The only disadvantage—and it’s a big one in a busy household—is that engineered hardwoods can be damaged by standing water and is not a good fit for high-humidity rooms.
Laminate floors are made of a variety of materials, including wood. Because of their construction, laminate floors are incredibly durable and able to withstand heavy traffic (from both pets and kids) in a busy household. The manufacture of these floors is also incredibly beneficial during installation. Laminate floors can be pieced together as a floating floor (with these instructions for a smooth laminate flooring install).
In addition to being easy-to-install, laminate floors are one of the most affordable DIY wood floors on the market. Even with a low price tag, high-quality laminate floors look just like solid wood flooring. There are variety of styles of laminate flooring available at a local flooring store. With such a large variety available, homeowners can easily find the laminate floor that fits with the home décor. Like most wood floors, laminate floors can be damaged by water and high-humidity, meaning they are not suitable for installing in bathrooms, mud rooms, and laundry rooms.
Luxury Vinyl Plank
Luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring is not a DIY wood floor, but many styles of LVP do look like wood flooring. Because these floors are not wood, most LVP floors are water-resistant. This means they can be installed in bathroom, laundry rooms, and mud rooms. Like engineered wood and laminate, LVP flooring can be snapped together and installed as a floating floor.
Like wood floors, LVP flooring is incredibly durable and fairly easy-to-clean. These floors can withstand heavy paw- and foot-traffic, and only require a regular sweep or dry mop. The only cons of these floors are that they can scratch or fade in direct sunlight. Homeowners can find out more about LVP floors from local flooring pros.