To be economical and to make our lives easier we recently decided to install click flooring throughout our house. Installing click floors ended up being a great thing for us and a great learning experience. We used four different types of click flooring just for your reading pleasure. Jk. At first I thought that installing your own click flooring was like the $20 paint sprayer gun I got from harbor freight.
Good promised outcome.
Super easy at first glance.
Getting your hopes up so high but then ruining any chance at happiness you once thought possible.
That was before I figured out how to install click floors the best way. Once I figured out installing click floors, I felt like I could install these floors anywhere and everywhere. The following are tips that I figured out as we went and what I wish I knew when we started.
Picking the floor
When installing click floors the first thing that you need to figure out is what type of floors you want.
There are a bizillion different types of click floors and things to think about beyond the color and design including:
Click or click and glue
water proof and water resistant
10 year warranty and lifetime warranty
Pre-attached underpad versus separate underpad
Varying widths and lengths of “planks”
Click/click and glue
For us, we picked the flooring that you could just click instead of click and gluing. When it is click and glue the flooring stays together really well. We put it in places that wouldn’t have high movement and we wanted installation to go faster with less fumes. So we didn’t select the glue and click type. I recently went to a gym where they had click flooring and it was horrible. The exercise room has huge gaps all throughout, especially where the instructor would stand.
Water resistant/ water proof
In the kitchen we put the water proof floors so if there was excess water for an extended period of time it wouldn’t completely ruin the entire floor. For the other areas where we are less likely to have flooding we just went with water resistant. We’ll have to clean it using a damp mop but this isn’t a problem for us.
My husband is super big on warranties. I think that they aren’t that big of a deal. However, when a cheaper product has a lifetime warranty it makes me feel more secure about the quality.
Pricing and Quantity
While you might have a 300 sqft room you will most likely need to buy a little more. We calculated for 5% waste and we ended up with a little more than what was needed. Also, they sell the flooring in boxes so while you might need 330 sqft, if the boxes come in 20sqft of material, you’ll have to overbuy. I plan to keep the extra box of each that I had left over in my garage just in case I’ll need to replace something in the future.
When considering the price, think about the underpad or underlayment. We scoured prices to find the best quality of what we wanted but at the lowest price. Quickly we saw that there was one more factor to take into consideration when looking at pricing. If your floor is $.99/sqft but needs underlayment it is no longer $.99 for each square foot. The underlayment that we got for our living room was $50 for a roll, which ended up being about $.50 additional for each square foot but we had to buy a lot more than we needed because they came in 100 sqft rolls. Our kitchen flooring didn’t need underlayment and so while a little more expensive at first look actually was cheaper in the end.
We picked a larger plank for our living room and bedroom and a smaller plank for the kitchen. I found that I liked the bigger planks when covering the large living room. Then for the kitchen with all the little cutouts and variances the smaller width was a good idea. It didn’t matter to us that the sizes didn’t match between the two, but you might so it is something to take into consideration.
Buy Earlier than the day of install
The flooring needs to acclimate to your house. Don’t just jump in the car and buy the flooring the same day you plan to put it in (like someone I might have known…). I’ve heard different things but the most common I’ve heard is when installing click floors you will need to let it sit in your house for 2 to 5 days.
Get the subfloor level
Our subfloor was super old tile and there were bumps in it and ridges. We chipped down high spots. Put in this floor leveler (HENRY, WW COMPANY 12064 Pre-Mixed Floor Patch, 1 gallon) in areas that were dipped or to make one ridge less ridgy (yes, very scientific words here). It doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect.
However, the smoother and more level the floor the less trouble you will have getting the flooring to click together and stay together.
Installing Click Floors with a Stagger and leave room on the edges
When you lay the flooring don’t have all the seems line up. Stagger where the joints will be. Either do the halfway method or the three tier staggering. We did the halfway method.
Getting started is probably the hardest. If you have an older house, most likely your walls will not be straight. As you don’t want your floating floor to be against the wall you will need some space in between the wall and the floor. I learned (after it was too late) that if you have permanent fixtures (like cabinets) you don’t want the floor to go underneath it. Because the whole idea of the floating floor is that it is able to contract and expand as time goes on and if you have something “pinching it” then it is more likely to be pulled apart.
If you wall isn’t straight, if you put equal sized blocks in between the wall and the floor, you will be frustrated that your floor is getting uneven as you put more flooring down. Instead, lay the first row of planks and measure the distance from each plank to the wall. Cut blocks of wood for each plank, making sure the planks still line up straight with each other. Keeping your rows of planks aligned will reduce a lot of frustration when trying to put on the next row.
Cut the right end
Don’t get super excited that you are finally putting down the flooring and keep cutting the wrong end. Always think, am I cutting the right end? Yes? Yes. Then check again. lol.
It matters what way you should go
For some reason it is super simple to think that you have to force the end of the board into the other one. If you are doing this, most likely you are installing it the wrong direction.
There are two types of the ends of the flooring: the bottom lip and the top lip. If you are trying to shove the bottom lip under the top lip you are doing it wrong and you will be miserable. Make sure the bottom lip is down and that you are putting the top lip over the bottom lip.
You should line up the piece so that the corner is in tight. Then lay it down next to the other one. With your hand and then a mallet tap it in until it clicks. You should run your finger over the two peices at the joint. If you feel a ridge you haven’t got it in the right way. Either try to get it positioned again in tighter or further away or tap it in harder.
There are two tools that I thought we had to have at first but that was when we were doing it backwards. I thought that we had to tap the board in horizontally to the next one but that is plain wrong. If you are doing it right, most of the time all you really need is a toothbrush, rubber mallet, measuring tape and a saw.
The dry toothbrush to make sure your grooves are clear of any little gunk so that they can fit tightly together and the rubber mallet to help make sure your ends have clicked together tightly. You can also use a tapper and a pull bar when you are trying to get them tighter but really this is a sloppy way to do it in my opinion.
There are even new flooring types out there that all you need to do is score them and then snap (think drywall) but not all are like this and you will need a saw. I used a circular saw and a jigsaw (for the cutouts) to cut mine. Using a table saw would go the fastest and be the best option but it isn’t absolutely necessary.
When cutting with a circular saw just make sure that you have someone holding the other piece or something to rest it on while you cut. If you let it fall to the ground you risk chipping the corners which are very important to getting the flooring to click in tight.
You can put in the floors by yourself. I did. But it is easier, faster and you most likely will have a tighter floor if you have two people doing it.
One person to hold tight the front of the board that is going into the other board and the other person holding it tight against the other two boards where the seam is. We found that that was were most likely there was problems occurring, because it wasn’t close enough to the other two boards.
Take your time to do it right
If you rush through this, unless you are an expert, most likely you are going to have a floor that you regret. But if you take your time and make sure that you get the flooring in tight you will love it. I’ve found that putting in this flooring is like working on a quilt.
If you start to get off at any point it will mess up whatever comes after it and it will look sloppy and/or will come apart. Work slowly and make precise cuts and placements. If you do, you will have a very sharp looking floor. For months you will be uber proud and bother everyone when they come to visit about how you did that! If you start to get off or you notice that one row back isn’t tight like it should be, go back and fix it then keep going.
To confess I paid my husband’s friend to come lay down the flooring in the kitchen. I thought it would get done faster since I had a small kid to juggle. Devastation was plastered on my face when I looked at it in the morning or rather when I walked onto it in the morning. It was a joke to say that it was done let alone done right.
At first I told myself that it would be okay. I googled ways to close gaps after it was already laid. Later when I went in again to look at it I discovered that I could easily put my fingers in-between several of the planks.
So I pulled it alllll up and did it myself. I’m so happy I did. It is so much better now. So tight and (okay, I won’t be inappropriate here..although you know I want to be).
Anyway moral of the story is, don’t pay someone else to ruin your floor and don’t ruin it yourself. Use my 10 tips and lay a beautiful and affordable click floor yourself.