easiest diy floor

What is the easiest floor to install?

New technology greatly increased the competition for easy DIY flooring.

It used to be there were only a select few floors that made it easy to install flooring yourself. These floors “floated” above the sub-floor and snapped together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Today, the once new technology is now widespread, and you can find many cheap floors you’ll be able to install yourself.

So what are the easiest DIY floors?

What are your looking for in a DIY floor?

Why do people install their own flooring? Some people do it for hobby, some may do it to learn a new skill, and some do it because “if you want something done right, do it yourself.” But these people are the minority.

Most people that are installing their own flooring are doing it to save money.

So it only makes sense to include cost in this article. I have a full article on the cheapest flooring. But in this article, I’ll prioritize easy DIY, and then we’ll use cost to help break the ties.

I also touch on durability and maintenance because I find these are important topics. These aren’t taken into account in the rankings of the floors, but you’ll see mentions of them in the pros and cons so you can decide which floor is best for you.

So let’s start:

Rankings Cheap and Easy DIY Flooring Options

Below you’ll find common floors ranked for easy DIY. I found it easiest to rank them in tiers. Most floors within a tier are comparable in how easy they are to DIY. The tiers you’ll find are “easiest to DIY”, “easy to DIY” and finally “floors I would avoid for DIY projects”

Tier 1: easiest DIY floors

These are floors you could have an 8-year-old install in half a day (or less). Unfortunately, these are more specialty floors that don’t fit in every room. Don’t worry, if none are a fit, the next tier will include floors that work in any room.

1. Rubber flooring (particularly interlocking): Rubber flooring is easy to install no matter what it is, but the easiest is interlocking floor tiles. These are like the easiest to solve jigsaw puzzle you’ve ever done. Basically, every piece connects and can just be pushed together to interlock. Start with a corner of a room, lay down your first piece, and then just continue laying pieces until the room is full.
Highlights of rubber flooring:

  • easy to install and remove if any pieces get damaged
  • inexpensive
  • soft and insulating
  • great for home gyms and kids playrooms
  • come in styles from industrial black-only to pastel colors and unique designs

Cautions and drawbacks of rubber flooring

  • looks tacky in many rooms (I’m not an interior design expert, but rubber living rooms don’t work)
  • not as stable for people will balance issues or wheelchairs
  • looks tacky in many rooms (yes, it was worth repeating)

1. Carpet tiles: Carpet tiles aren’t quite as simple as interlocking rubber flooring but close. Carpet tiles you don’t have to worry about which of the 4 sides connect to the other piece as you do with the jig-saw style of rubber flooring. However, carpet tiles have adhesive to stick to the ground below. This means you have to pay a little bit of attention to what you’re installing the tiles over, but the tiles are pretty forgiving. There’s also a mild headache if you stick one at an angle and then need to pull it back up. In other words, you have to pay attention to how you set the carpet tile rather than just snap it together.
Highlights of carpet tiles

  • easy to manage square pieces with self-adhesive
  • very inexpensive so mistakes aren’t costly
  • forgiving on the subfloor, so no major preparation needed
  • most have simple peel backings to reveal the adhesive
  • maybe more creative design options with carpet tiles than any other floor—if you want a creative DIY flooring project, this is your floor!

Cautions and drawbacks of carpet tiles

  • some subfloor preparation is required: it can’t be completely unlevel or installed over a non-firm floor like carpet or it won’t stick
  • if you get tiles with intricate designs, it will take more effort to match the tiles in the direction of the pattern
  • adhesives can be a pain if it’s not installed correctly the first time

Tier 2: easy DIY floors

The floors are slightly more difficult than carpet tiles and rubber interlocking floors, but with that in mind, you can install still install these floors by yourself in a day. Also, these floors are much more “mainstream,” meaning you see them in everyday rooms.

1. Luxury vinyl tiles or planks: These more durable versions of vinyl floors are also easier to install. They use a “tongue and groove” system you’ll find with most floors in this tier. Basically, you measure out your rooms to decide how many planks you’ll need, sometimes you have to cut planks based on these measurements, but then the planks snap together and float over the subflooring. This allows you to not pay too much attention to the subfloor.
Highlights of luxury vinyl:

  • easy to install tongue and groove floating flooring
  • can be installed in nearly any room due to its water resistance
  • relatively inexpensive but also durable floor
  • easy to re-position (as your installing) because of no adhesives)

Cautions and drawbacks of luxury vinyl

  • if you have a damaged plank after installation, uninstalling and reinstalling a plank is not simple
  • not the most scratch resistant flooring
  • versatile and look good but usually not as great for resale value as its main competitor laminate

Laminate: You almost can’t hear about DIY flooring without a mention of laminate. It’s probably the most popular DIY floor out there. It’s very similar to luxury vinyl mentioned above and is also a floating “tongue and groove” floor. I gave luxury vinyl the slight edge on DIY, since moisture is not as big of an issue.
Highlights of laminate:

  • easy to install tongue and groove floating flooring
  • scratch and fade resistant
  • won’t have the luxury of hardwood but still looks good in most rooms
  • usually a better resale value than luxury vinyl

Cautions and drawbacks of laminate:

  • if you have a damaged plank after installation, uninstalling and reinstalling a plank is not simple
  • water will destroy most laminate (some new versions are getting better in this category) and this can even include mild moisture you wouldn’t detect without equipment

Engineered hardwood: Some engineered hardwoods use a tongue and groove system like laminate. And unlike true hardwood flooring, you don’t have to worry as much about sealing the floor or the subfloor beneath (but it still can’t be ignored). Engineered hardwood generally takes a little more detail than laminate and luxury vinyl but isn’t far off in terms of difficulty.
Highlights of cork planks:

  • easy to install tongue and groove floating flooring
  • more resistant to moisture than hardwood or laminate
  • not extremely common so it gives rooms unique character
  • great sound and temperature insulation

Cautions and drawbacks of cork planks:

  • if you have a damaged plank after installation, uninstalling and reinstalling a plank is not simple
  • depends on good sealing to be resistant to moisture
  • soft nature of cork makes it susceptible to damage from pointy objects (high heels, cleats, furniture)

Engineered hardwood: Some engineered hardwoods use a tongue and groove system like laminate. And unlike true hardwood flooring, you don’t have to worry as much about sealing the floor or the subfloor beneath (but it still can’t be ignored). Engineered hardwood generally takes a little more detail than laminate and luxury vinyl but isn’t far off in terms of difficulty.
Highlights of engineered hardwood:

  • easy to install tongue and groove floating flooring
  • more resistant to moisture than hardwood or laminate
  • looks identical to hardwood

Cautions and drawbacks of engineered hardwood:

  • if you have a damaged plank after installation, uninstalling and reinstalling a plank is not simple
  • best imitator of hardwood (since it’s top is true hardwood), but if you’re going for true luxury, some people can feel the difference
  • luxury cost comparable to real hardwood, so mistakes are costly

Floors I would avoid for DIY projects

This is a list of floors that are not easy to install. If you aren’t a carpenter and don’t have a significant amount of DIY experience, I wouldn’t use any of these floors.

That said, it can be done. So if you’re looking for a challenge, be my guest.

Here they are:

Tile: Tile is basically a rock. In some ways, this makes it easy to install because you don’t have to mess with the floor bending or changing size in different humidities. But any qualities that make it easy to install are eliminated by the fact that you must cut it, grout it, and seal the grout. On top of all of this, tile usually isn’t cheap, so mistakes are costly. If you really want to install your own tile, I’d start with something less expensive like ceramic. It’s softer and cheaper when you make mistakes.

Hardwood: Hardwood is one of the most luxurious floors, so it requires extra care when installing it. A few things make hardwood difficult. One is that it is usually nailed down to the subfloor. This requires more precision and possibly more damage. The other is, with a more durable floor, you must be more careful about how the environment is: in other words, have you prepped the subfloor and made sure the humidity and moisture are acceptable. The “nail in the coffin” for hardwood is that mistakes are some of the costliest for any floor.

Carpet: Tile and hardwood aren’t great for first time DIY’ers but carpet is a complete no-go unless you’re installing in a very small room. Techniques to cut a large sheet of carpet and appropriately stretch are nearly impossible for at-home DIY’ers. And although carpet isn’t as expensive as tile or hardwood, mistakes are often more expensive with carpet. The reason is that how you cut the carpet roll can ruin an entire room worth of carpet in one mistake. Whoops!

Captain’s parting words!

Ready to roll up your sleeves?

Choose one of these easy DIY floors, and I think you’ll be impressed by your work. Plus, you’ll have extra money to spend on flooring an additional room, or maybe doing something more fun.

Any questions on your DIY flooring options? Let me know in the comments below.

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