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Hard Floor Coverings

Wall insulation | Drywall | Finish carpentry | Paint | Attic and crawlspace insulation | >>Hard floor coverings

Basics
Hard floor coverings are installed right after the painting has been completed. Hard floor covering include coverings such as vinyl, hardwood, laminate floors, ceramic tile, and stone. The most popular places to install hard floors are in areas where water and heavy traffic are present. The kitchen, dining room, bathrooms, and entries are just such areas. Carpet is really not practical in these areas.

Click on Thumbnail to view a cross-section of a hardwood floor.

Timeline
Hard flooring is critical in the timeline because it will hold up the cabinets and finish plumbing, and carpet if not scheduled on time. The plumbers can't install the water closet or appliances until the hard flooring is installed.
Although not all contractors do it, it is recommended that the entire kitchen and bathroom is covered with flooring even the areas under the cabinets. It may cost a little more in floor covering but there are some good reasons for this:

  • It is much easier to finish hardwood, tile and laminate with out working around cabinets.
  • It doesn't affect lower the countertop height (distance from finished floor to countertop surface).
  • If you ever replace your cabinets it's not likely that you'll be able match the existing flooring.
  • Vinyl has a tendency to curl under the toe kick if it is not continuous under the cabinets.

Hard floor comparison:

Floor covering material Comments
Vinyl Inexpensive for the cheaper lines, installs quickly, fairly durable, low maintenance, water won't damage it. Often used in kitchens, and baths of tract homes.
Hardwood Will last a lifetime if cared for, looks fantastic, many different species and stains available, can be refinished a different color. Expensive to install, suceptible to water damage. Fairly high upkeep cost.
Ceramic tile Will last lifetime, good looking, many styles, sizes colors and textures available, durable, not affected by water, very low maintenance. Difficult to remove if you want to change style or color.
marble/stone Will last a life time, expensive look, durable, expensive.
Laminate floor Authenticates wood and stone fairly well, durable, installs quickly, low maintenance, inexpensive and one of the easier do-it-yourself project.


After the hard flooring is installed
The base board will have been installed prior to the hard floor being installed, except where the hard flooring is to be installed. The finish carpenter will need to return to install the base over the finished floor. The painters will also need to prep and paint the baseboard after the carpenter is done.

Click on the thumbhail below to see a cross-section of a ceramic tile floor.

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Floor covering store
There are floor covering stores where you can get a bid for all your floor covers from carpet and tile to vinyl and hardwood. The advantages of dealing with one store is time saving and coordinating the construction with one person instead of 3 or 4. Discounts may also be available if you purchase all your floor covering from one dealer. The drawbacks of using a single supplier/installer are usually a limited selection of brands and an overall higher price than if use shop around for the best prices on individual coverings.

Notes to the owner builder
As with most building products there is a great variance in price depending on quality, availability, and locality. With hard floor coverings, this is even more so. Tile for example can vary in price by 200% depending on location and retail outlet. Many times bargains can be had with hardwood, laminate flooring too. If you are skilled you can install the floor yourself and save even more money. Protecting your hard floors is important during this phase. Contractors usually cover hard floors with cardboard, or thick paper. Traffic should be kept off of newly installed or finished flooring.

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