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Hardwood Flooring … Do It Yourself?

Written by Jane Trabert Schmitt
Imagery by Courtesy of M P Caroll Hardwood

Beauty, character, strength and durability – those are the things that hardwood flooring delivers to nearly every room in your home. And installing it yourself is easier than you think!

There’s never been a better time to consider installing your own beautiful hardwood floor, according to Mike Caroll, owner/operator of M P Caroll Hardwood.
    “The do-it-yourself market is through the roof,”  he says.  “Everything you need to install a hardwood floor is available, including installation lessons. If you have basic carpentry skills and can operate a power saw, you can install your own floors.” He estimates that 25 percent of his annual sales come directly from do-it-yourselfers. And while many people may be on the fence about plunging into a project or think they need to take the safe route by hiring a professional installer, that’s not always the case.
    “We give free lessons to our customers who aren’t sure how to get things started,” Mike says.  “They can spend an hour with me in our shop. I will go through all of the motions with them and by the time we’re done, they’re ready to go out and install their own floor. And they’re going to do a great job.”
    With an average size floor of 400 to 500 square feet, the cost savings for do-it-yourselfers can be thousands of dollars.
    “In the long run, it’s a huge savings – approximately 50 percent,”  he says.  “The average prefinished oak floor is $10 a square foot installed. So when you take that $4 out of the labor, they’re saving almost 50 percent.”
    So what’s a popular seller these days for do-it-yourselfers and others?
    “The biggest seller currently is hand-scraped, distressed flooring. It is prefinished. It is distressed in the factory to look like it has been around for 100 years. The trend has been super hot for five or six years. It’s probably 50 percent of what we sell right now,” he says. “The hand-scraped, distressed look has become so popular because of the look, but one of the biggest benefits it offers is it doesn’t show wear and tear because of the pre-worn look. It’s just like the beat-up blue jeans we buy for our kids. Scratches and dents don’t show up as much.”
    As far as installation methods, do-it-yourselfers have several options:
• Tongue-in-groove flooring, a super popular method in which the floor is nailed down.
• Floors that interlock. These are called “floating floors” and there is no nailing or gluing required. The pieces are milled to “click” together. “It’s like putting together a big puzzle,” Mike says.
• Hardwood floors that are glued down. This is an easy method that requires no special equipment. Planks of wood are set into the adhesive, similar to how ceramic tile is installed.
    “Most jobs can be done over the weekend, the 400- to 500-square-foot floors,”  he says.  “If somebody has never done it before but they have a helper, they can start it on a Friday night and be done on Sunday.”  

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