Flooring Installation Checklist

The New Floor Survival Guide & Installation Checklist

So you’ve made the decision—it’s time to update your floors. You did not come by this lightly. You’ve crunched the numbers, did the research and cleared your schedule. Everyone’s on board and you’ve snagged the best-rated installer in town. You’re ready to buy the floors and schedule the appointment. But wait…

Because flooring is the LIFECORE® wheelhouse, we thought we’d provide some good information to help you prepare for what comes before, during, and after installation day. New flooring is a big investment with an even bigger reward, but no worries; LIFECORE can help you navigate your installation journey—both via this blog and its companion checklist—with fantastic results!

Download Our New Floor Installation Checklist

floor installation checklist snippet

First Steps

First and foremost, we recommend that you hire a professional contractor to measure the space. Don’t go by the numbers on your blueprints or a hand-held tape measure to accurately determine the square footage you will need for the job. Flooring professionals have more advanced technology to acquire measurements, coupled with the experience to spot uneven sub-floors, awkward corners, or seam placements that may factor in along with the standard cutting and wastage.

Remember to tell them if you will be carrying the new flooring through any closets in the room (we recommend that you do) so that they can figure that measurement in for the most accurate number. Knowing for certain how much square footage you need also enables you to make sure that you are within your project budget.

If your new installation includes the kitchen, you’ll want to make sure that you order extra product should you decide to one day update your cabinets or appliances that might be different in size than what you have now. Unless the installer plans to remove everything from the kitchen and put back after they install the floor, the new flooring will be installed around whatever is already there that can’t be easily moved. Should those items change down the road, you may be left with gaps. Side note: You may also want to use the opportunity to clean out the fridge since it will be disconnected and moved.

Once your flooring choice has been finalized, we suggest that you purchase one carton first before committing to the full order; lay the planks out to get a good feel for the product on a larger scale. Move them around the room(s), in front of the window, under the furniture, and next to the painted wall that it will be cohabiting with to give you a better idea of the final aesthetic. This practice may inspire you to make other décor changes or save you from making unnecessary ones depending on how it looks.

When you do place your order, make sure the flooring will arrive at least 72 hours before the installation. You will want to keep the flooring in the same climate that you plan to install it in so that it properly acclimates.

This would also be the time (before installation) to decide if you want to update paint and or wallpaper.  Even the neatest painter job has drip and scuff potential, so why not let that be your old floor’s last contribution to the house? Plus, think of the end result! New floors and new walls will really transform your living space! Remember that if the room you’re painting has closets, you will want to give a fresh coat to the closet interiors and possibly the doors and ceiling.

Though not as glamorous as paint, selecting the right transitions, trims, and moldings are an essential. These are pieces that create the smooth transition from the horizontal floor to the vertical wall, both aesthetically and structurally. They hide the necessary 3/8-inch expansion gap along the perimeter of the room in a floating-floor installation that allows for climate-based expansion and contraction. They also serve to allow the room-to-room flow, laying flat on the floor as two rooms with different flooring connect (especially to hallways).  Speak to your dealer/installer about this, so you have the final say in which look is selected, as they come in different styles and colors.

While you’re at it, ask your contractor if he or she recommends that you include an underlayment to muffle the sound underneath your new flooring. There are several good options, depending on what kind of product you install or what you are installing over that will ensure that you don’t hear any creaking or squeaking when you walk on your beautiful new floors.

If you haven’t already, make plans to measure doors and make sure that they are still the right height for your new flooring. If the new flooring is higher than the old, it may be necessary to trim the bottoms of your doors in order to accommodate the changes in height. Or, you may also want to consider this an opportunity to update your doors altogether, budget willing. If not, consider a refresh on the hardware; you’d be surprised at the “new home feel” you’ll get.

Going from carpet to hardwood? You may have already started eyeing up stylish area rugs, both for aesthetics and for comfort. This is a great idea, but keep in mind that hardwood species (like any natural textile) can change color over time due to sunlight exposure, while the area under your area rug will not. The best way to avoid that “surprise” when you lift the rug later on is to periodically move it to different areas in the room so that the entire surface at some point is exposed to ambient or direct light. Or, you could just buy a LIFECORE floor. Our new reactive surfaces are fade resistant. For hardwood areas that will not have an area rug, don’t forget to invest in pad protectors for furniture, door mats, and pads for pet bowls to safeguard your beautiful new floors.

A Few Days Before

The installer will need a clean, empty space to work with. Many contractors will move furniture, but there are still many steps that you will need to take to ensure that the environment is installation-ready.

For instance, empty out the drawers of any bureau or chests to make them less heavy to move. You will also need to clear everything out of closets prior to installation day so that the contractors can work. Even if you opt not to carry the flooring through your closet, dust from installation can get on your clothing and only make for more work later. Pick up boxes for consolidating items that will need to be moved and consider donating those that are unwanted. Purge and organize—there’s no time better to get rid of furniture and accessories you don’t need than before the installation.

Drapes, window coverings, artwork, or anything that is lower than 36” from the floor should also be removed from the installation area, as should valuables such as jewelry. Also, find a temporary home out of harm’s way for breakable objects.

If you have central air, this may also be a good time to replace air filters and clean vents to keep the air quality good and the dust bunnies away!

After Installation

Make sure the family does not walk on the new floors any earlier than the timeframe the installer set. Keep the temperature and humidity steady, generally around 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity at 30-50 percent. If you can’t adjust through central air, you may need to achieve this using a humidifier (winter) or dehumidifier (summer).

Now that you have installed your floors and you have central air, this may be a good time to replace air filters and clean vents that may have trapped any dust from installation so you can enjoy even better indoor air quality and keep those dust bunnies away!

Forget that novel on your end table for now. It is very important to read BOTH the Warranty and Care and Maintenance instructions that came with your flooring. The Care and Maintenance instructions will teach you which products and equipment are recommended to keep your floors looking great. The Warranty will give you a heads-up on what’s not covered, should you decide to try your Great Aunt’s vinegar floor cleaning concoction and the finish does not respond well.

Lastly, take a step back and marvel at how amazing your décor looks! You have put a lot of thought and planning into this, and you should take a moment to pat yourself on the back as you enjoy your new floors!

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