Lessons Learned after Flooring

Almost 2 months, or about 7 weeks.

That’s how long it took me to redo about 550sqft of floor in our condo. I know… so slow, a pro team would have done it in less than a week… But I accomplished my goal: to fix and improve my own home while saving myself some money along the way and learn a few new skills and tricks. Plus, the best of all: Bragging rights!

It wasn’t an extremely difficult job skill wise, but it wasn’t easy either. A lot of attention to detail was needed. For example, measuring the boards properly was important to ensure they would fit at the wall with proper gaps and avoid having wasted pieces due to bad cutting.

There were a few reasons I took so long to do this, some of them out of my control and some others just for being a rookie. But looking back at this remodeling project, I would have done a few things differently with the lessons I learned.

Lesson 1: Make a comprehensive list

When ordering the wood online, I only thought of the two basic items: the wood and the underlayment. Then we made a budget based on that. In reality, we forgot to include a ton of other things. Try making a detailed list of everything you will need. You might still miss something, so add a miscellaneous item.

  1. Hardwood Floor
  2. Felt underlayment (in the case of a floating floor)
  3. Tools
  4. Wood Glue for tongue and groove
  5. Cement adhesive for the transitions
  6. Quarter rounds
  7. Transition pieces for doors
  8. Cleaning supplies for hardwood floor
  9. Toilet flange extender (if reflooring a bathroom)
  10. Molding caulk & silicone caulk
  11. Wood filler and wood stain
  12. Sanding paper
  13. Cement floor-leveling compound
  14. Plumbing hardware for dishwasher
  15. Felt pads for furniture

As you can see from the list, there is a lot more than just the floor needed. Individually, these aren’t a bank breaker, but they do add up to a few hundred dollars. Tools never crossed my mind. Luckily, great neighbors and friends provided about 90% of the tools I needed. The others I ended up buying.

Item #14 consisted of replacing a horribly-installed copper line for the dishwasher. It made it extremely difficult to remove and service the dishwasher so I switched it to a flexible line. However, that led to more problems, since whoever assembled the dishwasher apparently put crazy glue on all the fittings. I had to play some tetris with different fittings resulting in unexpected costs.

Lesson 2: Planning the floor layout

Ideally, you would remove everything from the room you are working in. In my case, it wasn’t possible to do that in all areas. This prevented me from laying out all the wood from all the boxes, which resulted in running out of short boards sooner than expected.

Another recommendation is to measure and cut the floorboards that will go under the door trims BEFORE laying the line before it. That way you can slide the boards under the trim more easily and avoid forcing the boards in with brute force.

Lesson 3: Weather!

A few weeks into the project, winter decided to kick in, combined with daylight savings… which meant no sunlight after 5:00pm. That meant I had a few minutes of dusk light after arriving from work to cut any boards on the table saw I had outside safely. After darkness, I just wouldn’t risk cutting outside even though I had a lamp. That, along with the cold weather, would make working outside a pain! So make sure to account for weather if you are unable to cut inside or in a garage.

Lastly, don’t forget to cover your furniture or they will get very dusty even if you cut the boards outside!

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