An accurate guide to installing wood flooring in 5 easy and extremely helpful steps.

OK. I’m just going to get right in to it. Because I know there are hundreds, nay thousands, of people out there who are hungry for extremely detailed and helpful step-by-step instructions on installing flooring—the right way—in their homes*. So here it is, in a nutshell. You’re welcome.

1. Rip up the old carpet as recklessly as possible. Don’t even think about the best method for removal or what you will do with the carpet once it’s gone. Just get equal parts frustrated with current carpet and excited about the prospect of new flooring and rip that old garbage up as fast as humanely possible. If you really want to go the way of the doodle, don’t even bother taking all the furniture out of the room first. Work around it. There is no time for that. Planet Earth is depending on you to install these floors and install them fast.

2. Watch a lot of YouTube videos. When you’re obnoxiously impatient and overly enthused about a lofty renovation project, it means you don’t need to consult an expert beforehand. Don’t talk to anyone at Home Depot or call up your contractor relatives. Mathematically it works out: eagerness + materials = perfect DIY project. That’s all you need. Just 20 minutes of YouTubing and you’re good to go.

3. Choose the right playlist. One DH reader suggested we get a good playlist going before installing the floors, as dance breaks can be a crucial component to a happy flooring project. Since Handyman Heath was going to be the one doing most of the dirty work (with me as his trusty sidekick), I suggested he be the driver of our audio experience—which meant we were in for about 12 straight hours of listening to The Ticket, a Dallas-based sports radio network. So much for dance breaks. At least now I know as much about the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Rangers as I do about laminate flooring. I’ll miss seeing you on the field Nelly Cruz.

4. Seriously consider selling your soul for an “undo” button. About 18 hours into the project, when you’re about halfway through, think seriously about not finishing it. We were really good at this step. When Heath had just started transitioning from laying the planks out in the living room to the hallway, he looked up and me with the saddest, most pathetic puppy dog eyes, and said “I’m so over this.” Ah yes, we have arrived at that terrible, terrible moment in every major DIY project where you wish you never started it. The living room planks were all down, but the narrow hallway, which required way more meticulous measuring and cutting than the large living room did, was only just then getting underway. Even when that was finished, there would be many, many feet of trim to measure and cut and nail and paint. Damn. Was the carpet really so bad? Who said hallways need flooring anyway? Those aren’t even real rooms. No one will notice.

5. Blog about it. Much like that riddle about the tree that falls in a forest, did the project truly happen if you don’t blog about it? Probably not. So now, I submit my evidence. The best damned laminate flooring this house has ever seen.

Living room before…

carpetinmidcenturylivingroomLiving room after…

moderneclecticlivingroomDining room before….

midcenturyeclecticdiningroomDining room after…

midcenturydiningroomHallway before….

longhallwaybeforeHallway after…

doodlehousehallwayThe difference has been incalculable. It’s made the house feel bigger, cleaner and more vibrant.The doodles aren’t quite used to it yet. Their paws are still slippin’ and slidin’ more than they would like, but I’m acclimated.

patternswoodfloorswoodfloordiningroomtravelwallwyattcouchAwesome sauce, right?! Almost as great looking as our old carpet rolled up on the sidewalk.

oldcarpetIn all seriousness, it feels really, really, really good to be rid of the carpet I’ve fantasized about losing since we moved in almost 2 years ago. I am so thankful for the ReStore for making it happen when it did and love, love, love my Handyman Heath for being so willing to jump into this endeavor head first.

The only thing I regret about this project is that I didn’t do it sooner. Obviously, you have to work within the constraints of your budget, but for whatever reason I didn’t consider the ReStore as a flooring source before we accidentally stumbled upon it when in search for something completely different (more on that later). It was a  fluke, but I’m very grateful for it. I encourage any DIY home improvement junkie to go to their local Habitat for Humanity ReStore as soon as humanely possible to discover what amazing projects you can check off your list at a fraction of the cost. To break it down in real numbers, if we performed this same makeover with resources from our usual go-to, Home Depot, it would have cost us more than $1,000. But with the help of the ReStore, we did it for just a little more than $600. That’s a deal if I’ve ever heard one. Go to there. You must.

*If you’re in to doing floors yourself, I suggest looking at the following links which are actually much more instructional, eloquent and useful than anything I have ever produced. Especially this one. Though, full disclosure, we did not use the second, sound proof layer of padding when we did our floors, nor did we use painter’s tape to stick our spacers to the wall.  I also suggest this post from Young House Love for a good recap on installing real wood floors.


38 Comments on “An accurate guide to installing wood flooring in 5 easy and extremely helpful steps.”

  1. creative pixie says:

    Your floors look soooo good. You’ll find yourself sweeping up loads of dust/dirt off the floor and wonder how you lived with it going into the carpet!

  2. cmunroshea says:

    Looks amazing!! Congrats!

  3. dogsarentkids says:

    This is so beautiful! I absolutely LOVE how you have designed your home. I am unashamedly in love with all things color. And wow did the flooring make a huge difference!

  4. Bren says:

    WOW!!!
    That floor looks amazing!! Great job!

  5. Lisa Douglas says:

    Heath and Kelsey!!! This is amazing!!! You have once again done a beautiful job transforming your doodlehouse.
    I wish we could come see in person, but I will settle for more exciting posts from you.
    Love, Lisa and Roger

  6. grtescp says:

    those floors look awesome, and dogs skating on wooden floors makes for hours of entertainment (and a few hefty scratches along the way)! Congratulations on the great work.

  7. Melissa says:

    I love this so much!!! I’ll bring my roller skates over this weekend.

  8. Wow that looks so great! I ALSO bought my flooring from the Restore (about 10 days before you did!!) when it was sale the first time, but unlike you, mine is still in the garage “acclimating” (at least that’s what I’m telling myself!) I’ve got brand-new carpet though, so for now it’s limited to redoing the nasty linoleum in my bathrooms and closets. This looks great! I live in Austin too, and every time I see your house or garden posts I think–we could be friends!

    • Yeah! Blog buddies! I’ll have to check yours out. While I’m doing that, you should totally get on the wood flooring thing. You can’t even begin to imagine the difference it makes. I can’t wait to read your post about it!

  9. dani.o says:

    Congrats! They’re so pretty! I thought your place was pretty before but it’s even more “awesomer” now!

  10. kmom says:

    It is gorgeous, impressive! Can’t wait to see what’s next.

  11. Looks amazing!!! I remember when we put hardwoods in our condo and that carpet STUNK.

  12. katrinac81 says:

    The floors look so good. We’ve been procrastinating on getting rid of our carpet and putting down wood floors. Your post was inspiring (and pretty funny!) I really love the lighting in your dining area. Where did you find that awesome piece???

    • We found the dining room table and chairs at a flea market for $90. Can you believe it?! I got it in college and it ended up being the piece that inspired my whole midcentury obsession. It definitely looks better against the new floors. You should put some in if you can swing it. Of all our improvement projects, this has made the biggest difference.

  13. Joy says:

    Absolutely lovely.

  14. Sarah Ann says:

    Looks absolutely stunning! Amazing the difference hardwood can make compared to carpets.

  15. segmation says:

    Do you have a favorite playlist?

  16. I like your step by step instructions:) The change looks amazing!

  17. shanisimps13 says:

    Wow! first off, your house is beautiful! but the floors look amazing! I want to put in wood floors, but for now I have to be content with tile :)

  18. OMG – Gorgeous! You’re giving me the drive to rip out our bedroom carpet to put in the hardwood I’m dreaming about. I cringe every time I consider how much dog hair is embedded in that carpet. UGH!

  19. Really great job! Your house looks totally transformed. And I love the colours of your walls!

  20. Ted West says:

    Love the floors! Had a Great Dane with our wooden floors. Got worse as she aged, slipping every time she went from rug to rug. Finally had rugs everywhere so she wouldn’t fall. Hang in there!

  21. […] Transformation: Hardwoods in the Living Room Thanks to a ridiculous sale on laminate flooring at our local Habitat for Humanity Restore, what […]


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