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If you have an unfinished space in your house that you’re working on, I want to make the case as to why you should consider laying the flooring yourself.
Let’s say you have a basement you’ve been working on. The walls are up, the drywall is painted, and now it’s time to start looking at putting down some flooring, so you’re not just looking at concrete. If this is the case, and you have the tools and know-how, you can save yourself a substantial amount of money by laying your own flooring.
To start, do you have the following tools?
- A jig saw
- A miter saw (barbarians call this a ‘chop saw’)
- A rubber mallet
- A pencil
- A square
- A tape measurer
If you have the above, the next questions are these?
- Do you have good knees?
- Do you have a few hours of free time that you can devote to the task?
That’s really about all you need to lay your own flooring.
As far as the type of flooring goes, I’m a big fan of click-n-lock style floors.
These are thin sheets of flooring, normally a quarter inch thick, that typically have a vapor seal attached to the bottom of them. That’s one thing you do need to know about laying flooring on a concrete floor. You’re going to need to put down a vapor seal first. If you have click-n-lock style floors that already have that vapor seal, you can save yourself a bit of work.
Click-n-lock is pretty simple to work with. Each board edge has a different shape. All you have to do is lay a board down at an angle so it clicks into the previous board above it, and then lay it down on the ground. When you’re attaching a board to the skinny side edge of a board, you angle it again, and then pound it a few times with a rubber mallet to get it to stay in place.
Provided you can cut boards and swing a mallet, you’re in business.
Let’s assume that you have a 500-square-foot area that you need flooring for.
You can often find click-n-lock that looks like stained wood at Habitat for Humanity Restore stores throughout the US for a song compared to what you would pay for them at your local big box store. Of course, big box stores still is going to have good prices for click-n-lock compared to tile or wood, but if you’re really looking to save, I recommend at least looking over what Habitat for Humanity Restore has.
I found that Habitat for Humanity Restore Store was about 20% less than the big box store.
Let’s assume you’re paying $2/square foot in materials at the big box store to get your flooring. If we have 500 square feet that need to be finished, that means that we would spend $1000 just on the material alone at the big box store. If I can save 20% at Habitat for Humanity Restore Store (which is entirely possible), then we only pay $800 to get our flooring.
Installation for this type of flooring can run somewhere around $2/square foot, if you’re going to hire a guy to do this for you. This means that aside from paying for the product to floor 500 square feet, you’re also going to pay $1000+ for installation.
So if we go big box store + hired help, we’re looking at spending $2000+ to get 500 square feet done with click-n-lock flooring.
If we use Habitat for Humanity Restore Store flooring + hired help, we’re going to spend around $1800.
If we use Habitat for Humanity Restore Store and do the whole thing ourselves, then we’re going to pay about $800 to get the same job done.
In a time with unprecedented inflation, this is definitely something to keep in mind if you already have the tools, can carve out the time, and are willing to put a little bit of sweat equity into your home.
Those are just my two cents on flooring, though.
Obviously, if you’re going to start looking at tile or hardwood, that’s a whole other ballgame.
Tile takes a lot of skill to lay right. If you’ve ever walked into an area where somebody without tile laying skills has attempted to DIY it, you can tell almost immediately. Bad tile jobs make you depressed for the owner. The amount of work and money that will go back into fixing that mess is enough to cause heartache in anybody with a shred of empathy in their body.
Laying hardwood floors requires specialized air tools that you’re not going to really use for any other task ever. If you’re trying to save money on a job you don’t foresee yourself doing a lot of in the future, I think that this is largely a waste. Yeah, you could sell the special nail gun when you’re done with it, but I’d just as soon hire somebody to do the task for me. There is a bit of skill involved with getting everything right with hardwood.
It’s because of these factors that I think both tile and hardwood I think are beyond what most people are willing to mess with. Click-n-lock, though? I think that it’s a winner that the savvy DIYer can accomplish in a solid weekend’s worth of uninterrupted work.
But what are your thoughts on all this? Has this proven to be food for thought? Have you ever installed your own flooring? Are there some types you would not try to take on by yourself? Let us know what you’re thinking in the comments section.
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, What School Should Have Taught You, The Faithful Prepper, An Arm and a Leg, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.