Looking for an easy way to refresh tired rooms and boost the value of your home? Look down. Flooring may not be the first thing you think of when you're looking for a quick upgrade, but here are 13 projects you can tackle yourself. Add the cushion and durability of eco-friendly cork, or brighten up the room with floor paint. With our help, you can even epoxy-coat your garage floor to repel oil stains or get the warmth of wood with a floating floor. Keep reading for more on each option, full DIY instructions for an underfoot update, and to find out the easiest flooring to install.
13 DIY Flooring Ideas
Snap Together a Floating Hardwood Floor
It's hard to imagine a house being cozy without the warmth of wood flooring. The quickest way to get new wood underfoot is to install a floating floor. Unlike traditional solid-wood strips, a floating floor isn't nailed down. Instead, the planks are either glued or snapped together. The planks go down fast, over virtually any material—concrete, plywood, sheet vinyl, even ceramic tile. This sandwich of wood veneer glued to layers of pine or plywood looks like solid wood and is very stable. Although engineered flooring's thin veneer can't be sanded as many times as solid wood can, its thick factory-applied coating is more durable than one applied in your home on solid wood, and it will be ready for furniture in just one day.
For full step-by-step instructions, shopping list, tools list, and more see How to Lay a Floating Floor.
Lay Engineered Wood Floors
Jeff Hosking, a flooring consultant for This Old House, first began laying floors 35 years ago. Back then, 90 percent of his work was installing solid-wood strips with nails. But now, half of the flooring he installs is engineered: made of thin sheets of wood glued together like plywood. Solid wood is classic and can last a century, but engineered flooring offers a quicker, easier way to get a new floor, and it comes with a durable factory-applied finish that's way more durable, says Hosking, than anything he can apply onsite.
For full step-by-step instructions, shopping list, tools list, and more, see How to Lay Engineered Wood Floors.
Lay a Vinyl Tile Floor
Long before the advent of resilient sheet flooring and plastic-laminate planks, there was vinyl tile. Originally produced as an alternative to linoleum, vinyl tile grew in popularity because it was colorful, easy to clean and crack resistant. Vinyl tiles remain popular today and are commonly installed in baths, foyers, laundry rooms and mudrooms. The 12x12-inch tiles come in dozens of colors, patterns and textures, making it easy to create checkerboard designs and floors with contrasting borders. In 6 to 8 hours you can give an entire room a complete costume change.
For full step-by-step instructions, shopping list, tools list, and more, see How to Lay a Vinyl Tile Floor.
Tile a Floor
Tile floors are beautiful and don’t require much maintenance. Tile also offers a level of customization that other floors don’t. You can play with patterns and designs to suit your taste. As durable as they may be, these thin, fragile slices of ceramic require some special care and preparation. Otherwise, they won’t survive the parade of feet through an entry or the sudden spills in a bathroom or kitchen, where floors go from bone dry to sopping wet faster than you can say “puddle.” Here’s what you need to get the job done in less than a day.
For full step-by-step instructions, shopping list, tools list, and more, see How to Tile a Floor.
Nothing’s better on a cool morning than bare feet on a cozy carpet, keeping your toes off the cold, cold floor. Bare wood may be beautiful, but carpeting both looks good and feels good. It brings design to a spartan room, it adds warmth to a chilly room, and it even provides quiet in an echoing room. But putting down carpet can be daunting to the do-it-yourselfer because the tools are unfamiliar. Fortunately, the process isn’t that difficult, whether you rent the tools or hire a pro to do the work for you.
For full step-by-step instructions, shopping list, tools list, and more, see How to Install Carpeting.
Install a Linoleum Tile Floor
If the word “linoleum” makes you think of grandma’s flecked kitchen floor, think again. In tile form, linoleum offers a nice alternative to ceramic or wood, and certainly vinyl, in just about any room: It’s colorful, cushiony underfoot, and warm to the touch. It’s also hypoallergenic. That’s all thanks to its construction of linseed oil, sawdust, and cork. Best of all, the tiles click together to form a floating floor, meaning they go down without needing to be glued. Follow along as This Old House senior technical editor Mark Powers demonstrates how to lay this eye-catching floor, and you may never think of linoleum in the same way again.
For full step-by-step instructions, shopping list, tools list, and more, see How to Install a Linoleum Tile Floor.
Epoxy-Coat a Garage Floor
You finally got the tools hanging neatly on an outlined pegboard. But now your car is jealous, sitting like a lump on the oily, dirty concrete slab. You still need to put the finishing touch on the garage cleanup: a colorful, shiny epoxy floor coating that will have you—and your car—feeling like you’re driving into a showroom every time you come home. Epoxy is oil and water resistant and wipes clean like a kitchen counter. Color chips and custom paint colors hide annoying imperfections in the concrete, and anti-skid additives give you the grip you need on a snowy day. All you need is a weekend to sweep the dirt out and paint the epoxy on.
For full step-by-step instructions, shopping list, tools list, and more, see How to Epoxy-Coat a Garage Floor.
Pop in a Cork Floor
Nothing's worse than waking up to the icy shock of a cold floor. What you need is some warmth underfoot, and a little cushion as you pad across the house. Enter cork. Resilient yet durable, stylish yet earthy, a natural cork floor can turn any cool room into a cozy haven. Cork is also a lot easier to install than traditional wood flooring. Manufacturers now offer products in engineered panels that snap together without glue or nails. These floating-floor systems sit well over plywood, concrete, or even existing flooring. As This Old House technical editor Mark Powers will show, in one afternoon you can turn a kitchen or playroom floor into a comfortable mat where your toes can roam free without fear of the big chill.
For full step-by-step instructions, shopping list, tools list, and more, see How to Lay a Cork Floor.
Add a Floor Medallion
Floor medallions are made to order using colorful pieces of precisely cut hardwoods mounted to a plywood backing. In the best ones, these pieces are at least 5/16 inch thick and can be sanded multiple times.
Installation requires cutting into your floor with a router and then bedding the medallion in adhesive spread on the subfloor. The process is painstaking but, thanks to the router template supplied by the factory, takes only a few hours.
For full step-by-step instructions, shopping list, tools list, and more, see How to Install a Floor Medallion.
Paint a Checkerboard Floor
The burgundy red floor in the master bedroom of Sara and Andrew’s Massachusetts farmhouse didn’t fit the fresh and energetic personality of the newlyweds. But refinishing wasn’t an option on a limited budget. So to update the space, they painted the floor in a light checked pattern, using beige and white to warm up their cool blue walls (shown). Recently, This Old House senior technical editor Mark Powers used their techniques to create a similar floor in his own house. Here he shows how a little measuring and a couple of coats of durable floor paint can add a little personality to a room for a small price.
For full step-by-step instructions, shopping list, tools list, and more, see How to Paint a Floor.
Install a Herringbone Floor
If you have a wood floor that could use a built-in focal point, try inlaying a section of classic herringbone parquet. Just know that the zigzag installation isn't a breeze. "This is the pattern that even the pros mess up," says Charles Peterson, author of Wood Flooring: A Complete Guide to Layout, Installation & Finishing. Fortunately, we got Peterson to show us exactly how it's done. Follow along with the man who wrote the book on the subject.
For full step-by-step instructions, shopping list, tools list, and more see How to Install a Herringbone Floor.
Lay a Stone Tile Floor
If you're going directly over subfloor, tiles are likely to crack or pop loose unless you take two extra steps. First, stiffen the subfloor by gluing and screwing a second layer of ¾-inch sheathing to the existing layer. Second, install what's called an uncoupling membrane to isolate the rigid stone or ceramic from the subfloor's flexing joints and seasonal movements. Here, we used Ditra (schluter.com), a dimpled plastic sheet that resembles a thin orange waffle. Although many tilers still slap stone directly onto the subfloor, I won't guarantee any of my jobs without the membrane.
Once the membrane is cemented in place, the tiling proceeds as usual. Be sure to use unmodified thinset, as the latex-modified kind won't harden properly when sandwiched between the tile and the membrane.
For full step-by-step instructions, shopping list, tools list, and more see How to Lay a Stone-Tile Floor.
Cascade a Stair Runner
Add a touch of elegance, texture, and color to your home’s interior staircase by installing a carpeted runner. The narrow strip of carpeting is set on a pad and then attached to tackless strips nailed to each tread. Installing a stair runner on a straight staircase is a relatively easy project, even for novice do-it-yourselfers. Winding stairs that turn corners are more challenging, but still doable with our expert instructions.
For full step-by-step instructions, shopping list, tools list, and more see How to Install a Stair Runner.