If you have steadily honed your Do-It-Yourself skills from beginner projects like replacing old faucets, to intermediate tasks like refinishing kitchen cabinet doors, you might feel ready to take on one of the most satisfying – and, let’s be honest, challenging  – DIY projects of all: installing a new hardwood floor.

Few upgrades enhance the warmth, ambience and value of a home like hardwood does.

As an informed DIYer, you already understand that there is no substitute for working with top-quality tools and materials. Perhaps you have also been watching online how-to videos, attending free seminars at home improvement stores, and picking the brain of your local flooring store expert. (Speaking from experience as a flooring specialist, I can tell you that we are happy to answer DIY questions, so, don’t hesitate!) 

What else should you be thinking about before you begin work on your new floor? Here are the most important things to keep in mind:

• Stay away from “trendy” colors and woods. Stick with traditional choices that will look great years from now.

• The length of your boards is important. If they are short, your room might look choppy. If they are too long, you might have to make more cuts when installing

• Use a quality urethane adhesive, and the proper adhesive cleaner to clean up the glue residue.

• Removal of the old floor is a lot of work. Plan thoroughly, and prepare for it to be messy. You might need specialty tools, too. (Jackhammer, anybody?)

• Study your wood product warranty. It will be from the manufacturer, not the DIY store where you purchased it. Do NOT lay a board if it looks defective, because it won’t be covered if you install it and then try to get it replaced under warranty.

• Be sure to begin your installation off the longest, straightest exterior wall of your home.

• Most importantly, take home several samples and lay them out under your home lighting before you purchase your hardwood. They will look very different in your home than they did in the store.

And, now? Go through your checklist, do your homework, and ask lots of questions. Assemble your materials and tools, gather your helpers (donuts & pizza help!), put on your safety glasses, take a deep breath … and launch. Take your time, have confidence, and have fun.

Rick Bent is one of the hardwood flooring and carpet specialists at RB Flooring on Hilton Head Island. rickbentflooring.com