Victorious warriors win first, then go to war,
while defeated warriors go to war first, then seek to win.
– The Art of War, Sun Tzu –
Get your Flooring Ready
- If your flooring was delivered, make sure you received what you actually ordered.
- Read the instructions in the box over carefully to know if there are special instructions for your product. Sticking to manufacturer guidelines is also critical to not voiding the warranty.
- Oh, and definitely save your receipts. You can even attach them to one of the labels from the end of a box. Stores usually let you return unopened boxes. So it’s better to buy too much than not have enough when you need it.
Let the Flooring Acclimate
In most cases, you’ll need to allow the flooring to acclimate to the temperature and humidity of your home. This will ensure your flooring doesn’t massively expand after you install it and create bumps in the floor. Put all of the unopened boxes in the room where it will be installed. Let it rest at room temperature for 48 hours.
Get the Room Ready
Remove the baseboards by scoring the corner where the board contacts the wall (to prevent paint or wallpaper from peeling), then carefully pry the boards away from the wall. If you are planning on reusing the base boards mark each board and the corresponding wall using an A-A, B-B system so that they are are easy to reinstall.
Laminate and vinyl flooring must be installed on a stable, self-supporting sub-floor such as wood, undamaged vinyl, cement or ceramic tile. However, when installing over ceramic you must fill and level the grout lines or remove the tiles. Any form of carpet MUST be removed, including the padding. If you are installing over plywood, hammer or remove any protruding nails or staples. Trim door jambs by placing a piece of the flooring on a piece of underlayment next to the door jam and cutting with an undercut saw.
WARRIOR FACTOID: Several castles and temples in Japan contained floors that intentionally squeaked. These “Nightingale Floors” were used as a warning system against intruders and assassins.
Level the Subfloor
If intruders are of no particular concern then the subfloor should be checked for unevenness. Use a level to check for variances. Generally you do not want to exceed 1/8” variance over a 6” stretch but double check manufacturer recommendations. Any high spots should be sanded down (a belt sander is handy here) and any low spots filled in with ‘thinset’ or floor leveling compound.
Once you have you have finished prepping the floor you will want to clean it thoroughly with a vacuum or make several passes with a broom to ensure there is no debris, otherwise you may end up with a squeaky, assassin-free floor.