DIY Flooring Blunders You Can Avoid

Most flooring blunders are due to a simple lack of experience and/or knowledge. The more you know, the better your flooring will be

Of all the ways you can improve the appearance, value, and comfort of your home, installing new flooring is one of the easiest for many DIY homeowners to accomplish. While many home improvement projects require a wide variety of expensive tools, this is not the case with most types of flooring. As with all projects, however, there are some blunders that can happen, but this article will hopefully help you to avoid many of them.


Tile Flooring Blunders

One of the most common tile flooring blunders is not understanding the product and thus getting the wrong type for a particular project. Many people go solely based on appearance and that can be a huge mistake. 


Ceramic tiles in various patterns and colors


Tile comes in various materials, so it is best to learn about them before choosing. For example, a budget tile is generally a clay bottomed ceramic. This tile is fine for places where there is little danger of things being dropped on them and that do not experience a lot of foot traffic. When a tile is chipped, and that happens pretty easily with this type of tile, you’ll readily see the bright color clay. These bargain tiles also have a thin top layer that will wear off pretty quickly. For kitchens and other high traffic areas, you want a better quality tile like a porcelain, especially a through-color one. Also, be careful not to get a tile rated only for wall installations. 


Used saltillo tiles, recycled building materials


Another tile blunder concerns the grout. Going with a basic light colored grout is a recipe for disappointment later. The best idea is to get a higher quality grout that has a sealant included or at least be sure to seal the grout appropriately and follow up regularly to reseal it. You’ll spend more for a better quality grout but it will look nice for years to come.


Bucket of construction glue


Finally, probably the worst tile blunder is using budget thin set or using the wrong tool to spread it before placing the tile. Most people think of tile as being good for a lifetime, but that won’t happen if the thin set breaks down or pockets have been left under the tile which cause the tiles to crack when weight is on them. Also, be sure to use spacers when setting tile. You may think you can eyeball it just fine, but when you get done and put in the grout, you may realize your mistake and by then it is too late to correct easily.


Using Tile Spacers on Red Tiles


Laminate and Wood Flooring Blunders

Many people opt for laminate or solid wood flooring because it is one of the easiest to install. There are, however, some blunders you’ll want to avoid. As with tile, it is important to understand the various products available so that you are assured of selecting the right one for your expectations.


Laminate is a very strong product that can resist quite a bit of abuse, however, once it is damaged it cannot be restored. Solid or engineered wood flooring, on the other hand, can be by sanding it down, buffing it out and resurfacing it. Even with wood, how many times it can be restored will depend on the quality of the product that you obtain. Concern yourself with the thickness of the top wear layer when looking for quality. 


All wood and laminate products are not happy in high moisture and wet conditions. This makes them less than ideal for bathrooms and laundry rooms. However, some products are better than others so keep this in mind if you want to go that route. Another option for these areas that looks much like wood is a luxury vinyl plank.

Wood texture floor in frames, Samples of laminate and vinyl flooring
Samples of laminate and vinyl flooring


When it comes to the actual installation, there are two commonly made blunders. The first is not allowing the product to sit in the home’s environment for the recommended period of time prior to beginning the installation. If you shortchange this step, you could experience gaps or ridges when the wood acclimates after the installation. The second is not giving the flooring room to contract and expand during seasonal changes. This can also result in gaps and/or ridges.


Man Installing New Laminate Wood Flooring


Carpeting Blunders

For the most part, carpet mistakes are minimal. However, those that do result in disappointments are usually based upon improper selection. Carpeting is rated based on the amount of foot traffic it will receive. Always be sure to get a quality carpet for areas where there will be heavier use, such as foyers and hallways. 


Additionally, don’t scrimp on the padding! Never reuse previous padding or get the basic padding. Even if the store offers this basic padding for “free,” ask about the upcharge for going with a quality pad instead. Your carpet will last far longer with a better pad and you will enjoy it being more comfortable besides. For some situations you may also want to consider upgrading to a moisture-resistant padding.


Rolled up of colorful carpets


Vinyl Luxury Tile Blunders

As with carpeting, there are few errors you can make when it comes to installing vinyl luxury tile or planks. The two main things to remember are to let the product acclimate before beginning the installation and perform a moisture test prior to ordering product to be sure your subfloor does not exceed the recommended reading. Failure to take either of these steps could cause your floor to fail.


Installing new flooring


While most of these tips about flooring blunders are pretty common sense and included in the instructions for flooring products, others are not often discussed and they might not even tell you about them at the big box flooring store. Knowing your intended flooring product well by reading all the materials and understanding the pros and cons will help you get the results you desire. Installing flooring is a relatively easy DIY project and one that you will feel really good about doing, as long as you avoid the blunders. 

DISCLAIMER: As always, you should hire a professional if you've never done it before or if you’re not entirely sure you can install the products properly. Readers proceed at their own risk if they attempt to replicate any activities described here.

Images used with permission, courtesy of and

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