If you’re consideringluxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring for your home, you’ve likely already run across a ton of websites and videos offering guidance on how to install them without hiring a professional. After all, it’s always less expensive to do it yourself, right? Well, taking a realistic look at the costs and potential challenges you may face in the DIY process is an important part of researching what works best for your specific needs. After all, there are plenty of DIY projects that are well within the average homeowner’s ability, but is this really one of them? Let’s explore the cost of installing your own LVP flooring before taking the DIY route.
Getting Ready: Before you begin a project like this, here are a few things you’ll need to consider and prepare for...
Prepping your space
- Furniture Removal: Yep, you’ll need everything out before you get started, so dust off your furniture sliders and dolly and get ready to break a sweat. Your DIY cost here is minimal, but depending on what’s in your space, you may need to budget several hours to move furniture in and out of your installation zone.
- Trim and Molding Removal: You’ll definitely need to uninstall and reinstall your trim and molding. This isn’t a difficult task, but it’s certainly a tedious step in the process. Again, this shouldn’t cost you anything except time and energy.
- Flooring Removal: This step isn’t always necessary, but if your floors aren’t smooth and level, they’re going to have to go. Removing existing flooring generally takes this project beyond the scope of DIY and well into professional territory. Online estimates put flooring removal costs at $1.26 - 2.46/sq ft.
- Leveling: If your floors are mostly level but need some work in spots, you’ll certainly want to level them before beginning installation. Again, this is best managed by a professional with the right tools and experience for the task. Costs will vary widely based on what proportion of your floor needs attention, but the flooring removal estimate referenced above should provide a good guideline on cost.
- Planning the Layout: This step takes some careful forethought, but you can learn what you need to know if you invest time in watching videos and reading articles. Things to consider are plank arrangement/design, transitions, starting location, and minimizing cuts. Budget extra time if you want any sort of specialty layout (i.e. herringbone or borders)
Materials: If you don’t already own the following items, you’ll need to invest about $100 to obtain them for this project:
- Chalk line reel
- Handsaw or high quality utility knife
- Knee pads
- Expansion spacers
Potential Pitfalls: So let’s say you decide to forge ahead with doing it yourself. What happens if something goes wrong?
- Uneven flooring: Uh oh. Looks like you neglected to notice that your flooring wasn’t completely level. Well, since each plank of vinyl flooring needs to sit flush against its neighbor, an uneven floor could appear bowed or warped and will likely become more apparent over time. Eventually, it may prove necessary to remove the flooring in that area, even out the subfloor, then reinstall the LVP. What a headache (not to mention doubling your expenditure of time and effort) after all the work you put into installing it the first time!
- Buckling: One of the most common problems that DIY installers run into with LVP is when the planks buckle due to pressure. This is most often the result of failing to leave an expansion gap around the edge of the flooring (to allow for natural expansion and contraction due to temperature and humidity changes). Without that space, the planks have nowhere to expand except into one another, resulting in unsightly buckling. This problem requires immediate remediation before your floors are damaged beyond repair. This is the point at which professional installation the first time around starts to sound like a really good idea in hindsight.
- Adhesive Issues: While many vinyl flooring options allow for a floating installation, others require you to apply an adhesive to the floor before you install each plank. Things can quickly go wrong if you don’t work neatly and efficiently, and there’s a definite learning curve on gluing down plank flooring. And don’t even mention the added step and expense of renting a heavy roller to ensure that even pressure has been applied across your newly installed floor.
- Warranty Problems: One thing that many DIY fans neglect to consider is whether their flooring’s warranty is impacted (or even voided) by opting to install it themselves. Reviewing the fine print before you start could serve you well in the long haul; even if you install your floors perfectly, a manufacturing defect discovered within the warranty period may not be covered if you can’t prove that you paid for a licensed contractor to install your flooring. In terms of cost, investing in high-quality LVP could end up being wasted money if you invalidate the warranty before you even get to enjoy your floors.
So what’s the right choice for you: go it alone or stick with a pro? We recommend that you review the following:
- Read the fine print in your warranty -- we don’t recommend voiding your warranty in an effort to save money on installation costs.
- Assess your level of willingness and ability to invest time and sweat equity in your new floors. How much is your time worth?
- Take an honest look at how handy you are. This isn’t a novice DIY job, and you don’t want to throw away your hard-earned money with a botched installation. You can’t really put a price tag on the peace of mind that accompanies professional installation.
- Know your budget -- prepare for the cost of installation (generally $2-3/sq ft.) and base your buying decision on the combined cost of flooring material and professional installation.
At MyFlooring, we include the cost of full-service installation in all our flooring, including LVP, because we want our customers to rest comfortably, knowing that their new floors were installed by seasoned professionals who can guarantee that the job was done right. It’s also whyour warranty applies to both the product AND the installation. Let us take care of everything, from furniture moving to clean-up!You can shop our LVP collections here.