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3 min read

Flooring Remodeling: How to Pick, Buy, and Install the Right Flooring

Flooring Remodeling: How to Pick, Buy, and Install the Right Flooring

Wood flooring.

If you've never redone your flooring (or if it's been a while since the last time you did), you might feel a bit lost about where to start. ReStore Manager Jill Carmody has helped countless homeowners with flooring renovations, from helping pick the right type of flooring to offering expert tips for first-timers. Here's an easy guide for how to get your flooring remodeling project done right.

How to pick the right flooring

Jill says that picking the right flooring material is about "what look you're going for" as well as the purpose of the room it's being installed in. "People typically put carpet in their bedroom or living room," Jill says, where comfort is the goal, and bathrooms often have ceramic tile because of the moisture from the shower and bath. For a kitchen DIY project or mudroom remodeling, you'll want to go with something more waterproof. That could include tile, vinyl, or newer, cost-effective flooring materials like luxury vinyl plank.

Close-up of two vinyl planks snapping together.Tongue-and-groove joints of vinyl plank flooring lock together.

Vinyl plank flooring has become the most common material for DIY flooring projects for it's ease of installation, durability, and how it mimics tile, stone, wood, marble, and other flooring materials. The vinyl planks interlock with  tongue-and-groove joints instead of adhesives, which creates a "floating floor" that's relatively easy to install.

How much flooring to buy

Flooring typically comes in packages that tell you how much square footage it'll cover, but Jill says you should always plan to buy 10 percent more than the square footage of the room you're reflooring. "You need to take into account closets, hallways, and extra areas," Jill says. If your room is 300 square feet, you should buy around 330 square feet.

Boxes of flooring and a sign with pricing.
The pattern of your flooring will make a difference, too – if it's an offset or angled pattern, for example, you'll probably need to cut extra pieces to fill the shape at the edges of the room.

Tools for installing new flooring

Most boxes of flooring materials will come with instructions on what you need to lay it down properly. You should still make sure you have the basics – measuring tape, utility knife, carpenter's square, safety glasses, and any adhesive you may be using. Note that vinyl plank flooring is best installed on top of an underlayment.

Use the measuring tape and a pencil or marker to mark where you want the plank to break. Use the carpenter's square and utility knife to score the plank in a straight line. Score the plank a few times in the same spot, then bend the plank smoothly along the score line until it snaps. You may need a jigsaw or hand saw to cut the planks into special shapes to get around door jams and pipes. 

Tips for starting a flooring renovation project

Close-up of a person's hands installing vinyl plank flooring.

With as many remodeling projects as she's helped with through ReStore, Jill has learned a thing or two about what can go wrong. Here's a checklist to get ready to install new flooring.

  • Take measurements. Measure and mark the planks before you begin cutting. It can be temping to "eyeball it," but taking the time to measure will save you from having to correct mistakes. 
  • Plan how much you can do in a day. "A flooring project can take two to three days if you're going slow and doing it right," Jill says. Take your time and don't rush.
  • Invest in a mask and kneepads. Flooring adhesive can create harmful fumes, so wearing a mask is a smart idea. And unless you're a professional installer, being on your hands and knees for hours will take some getting used to and will probably leave you sore. Using kneepads helps take the wear and tear off your joints. 
  • Put essentials in another room. Pick the room you want to do your flooring project and make a plan to move everything out of that room. You won't be able to use the room you're flooring until all the materials are set and solid, which may be a few hours or two to three days depending on the size of the room.
  • Pick the right starting point. Depending on the room, there might not be an obvious spot to start laying down new flooring. Maybe the room's not perfectly square, like an L-shaped kitchen. Plan your starting point with the endpoint in mind, so if you make a mistake, you can cover it up with cupboards or appliances.
  • Do a practice run. Still not sure about your remodeling skills? Pick up a small box of flooring materials and get used to cutting, placing, and shaping them before starting your project in earnest. And the best rule of thumb? "Measure twice, cut once," Jill says!

Find what you need for your floor remodeling project at ReStore

ReStore stocks donated materials from local businesses and other DIYers, so we can offer a variety of flooring types at an affordable price. Jill recommends being patient if the flooring you want isn't in stock, as there's a chance more will become available before your next visit. 

kitchen remodel diy guide

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