10 Things to Know Before You Get New Flooring

A few months ago we replaced the flooring in our house. Our house was built in 2004, and the carpet was almost 15 years old. After years with 2 toddlers and 3 puppies, it was long-overdue. We installed hickory hardwood downstairs and carpet upstairs, and we couldn’t be happier with it. Before we had it installed I searched the internet for advice on how to get the house ready or things to consider when someone is replacing flooring while living in the house. And I came up with…nothing.

So now that we’ve been through the entire process, I have put together a list of things that I think someone might find useful.

  1. No matter how good of a deal you think you’re getting, get a 2nd quote. Originally we planned on going with a national warehouse chain to purchase and install all of the flooring. They were running a really good “deal”. They had an incentive of a 15% rebate card to use on future purchases. Wow!!! Right? So we scheduled a consultation with their preferred vendor. They measured, and we picked out flooring. They emailed us a quote. We planned on moving forward, but we had a question about the quote. So we emailed them. And then…nothing. A week, no response. Ten days later we got a response saying, “Sorry, I got your email. But I’m really busy, and I can’t give you a response for a few more days.” After a phone call to the warehouse chain we were told, “Sorry. We only have one preferred vendor per region.” In the end, we went with a local company and ended up getting higher quality materials for less money, and that included the rebate. The rebate wasn’t even worth it.
  2. Decide if you want to keep any leftover materials. If you do, make sure that it is in your contract that any leftover materials will be left with you after the installation is complete. If you have a place to store them, this might be a good idea. What if you have a leak in the future and need to repair a spot? What if it is a large quantity left over that you can use in another space in the future?
  3. If you are doing an upstairs and a downstairs while you are living in the house, my #1 recommendation is to spread it out. Leave at least one week in between upstairs and downstairs. You will actually be moving your entire house in order to do the floors. The areas you aren’t working on will be spaces you can stage your belongings that you need to move. We had 2 weeks in between upstairs and downstairs installation, and we were still scrambling to be ready.
  4. If you have the option to save money and remove the old materials, don’t. Let them do it. The amount of money you might save is NOT worth the amount of work you will have to do. We opted to remove the carpet on the stairs and in the upstairs ourselves in order to save a little bit of money. It took us 3 times as long to do it than it would’ve taken the installers. Considering all of the other work we had to do to get ready for the installation, it just wasn’t worth it.
  5. When you are living in a house and replacing the floors, you have to move everything from waist level down. Everything. Anything in a closet, in a dresser or china cabinet, under beds, or in a bookshelf. This can take a lot of time to pack and move. I recommend starting as soon as you know you’re getting new flooring. Many times you can pay for installers to move your furniture, or they may tell you it’s “included”. Moving the furniture does not include moving what is inside of the furniture. The furniture will need to be empty.
  6. If your flooring installers are moving the furniture for you, watch them. Our old flooring had been damaged by a piano being rolled across it. I couldn’t believe it when I heard it being moved across the newly installed wood floors. Thankfully it didn’t damage anything, but I was there to stop them before it did. Ask for everything to be picked up and moved, if possible. Not drug, pulled, or wheeled.
  7. With that being said – Be there! You need to be on site somewhere while the flooring is being installed. You don’t want to hover or micromanage the workers, but being within earshot of what is going on is a good thing. You never know what issues you might overhear while they are working. You want to be present if a problem or question comes up.
  8. Turn off your HVAC while they are removing old flooring and installing new flooring. The amount of dirt and dust kicked up is incredible. Leave the HVAC off until the installation is complete. Then you will want to dust, sweep, and vacuum the house. Once you have done that, turn the HVAC back on and let it filter the rest of the dust. After about 3 or 4 days, change the filter on the HVAC system. If you have separate HVAC for each floor or zone, turn the ones off even in the areas not getting new flooring and follow the same steps.
  9. Consider taking window blinds down, or covering the windows with plastic, or pulling shades completely up. The dirt and dust from installation will cover everything, and these are a pain to clean afterwards.
  10. There could be more work to do after installation is complete. Our installation included new shoe molding. However, it did not include caulking and painting the new molding. While we needed the installers to move the furniture back where it belonged like we paid them to do, it also meant that after they left there were some very heavy things in the way when we needed to caulk and paint. Just something for you to consider.

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