LPM HOME INSPECTION DIY TIPS - FLOORING

By
Home Inspector with LPM Home Inspections, Inc.

LPM Home Inspections quality inspections (QI's) for home buyers gets into a lot of stuff that's important before you buy your home.  We've already covered ceilings, so let's change directions and look at the floor.  You know, that's the big expanse you're standing on.  Floors come in all shapes and sizes so we'll limit ourselves to the standard issues.

First, take a look around.  Is there flooring everywhere it's supposed to be or is there just bare wood or concrete.  If you can see these, it means something you want is missing.  Let the seller or contractor know that they've FORGOTTEN to install the flooring. 

If the flooring is there, here's what to look for:

CARPETING

Is carpeting installed with no rolls, bubbles or seams visible?

Is carpeting tight against the baseboard?  No gaps are allowed.

Are there stains or snags in the carpet?

CERAMIC TILE

Ceramic tile floors should be tucked under the baseboard shoe mould.

Does the tile grout match or does it change color from one section to another?

Look worried.  Pace the floor - make sure there are no chips, marks or cracks and that the grout is actually there.

Compare the edges of the tile to the wall.  If the gap between them gets bigger either the wall or tile has been installed crooked and you need to have a talk with the contractor or seller.  This is especially important if small details drive you absolutely crazy the longer you live with them.

HARDWOOD

Check the alignment (straightness) of the boards by comparing the joints in the wood to a nearby wall.  If they're skewed, either the wall or the floor is crooked.

Do the colors of the wood match?  If not, why not and can you live with the contrast?

Make sure the baseboard shoe mould overlaps the sides of the wood.

Look for gaps between the boards.  Do they belong there?

If you find bows or bubbles in the flooring, somebody did something wrong during installation.

Bend down (if you can) and use a reflection in the surface of the wood to look for scrapes, gouges, holes or flaws.

"FLOATING" FLOORS

"Floating" floors look like hardwood but are sheets bound together with a thin layer attached to the bottom to serve as a cushion.  The surface gives when you step on it.

You're looking for humps, bows, scratches and disconnected joints.

Make sure there are no gaps where one floor surface meets another.

VINYL FLOORING

Vinyl flooring can come in rolls (formerly called linoleum) or in individual squares.

Make sure there are no bubbles, marks, gouges tears or gaps.

Bend down (yes, again) and use reflections on the surface to look for tiny bumps where the installer left wood or pebbles when he swept the subfloor.  These tiny bumps will turn into holes over time.  

Shoe mould should be installed wherever vinyl meets walls, cabinet bases and, sometimes, tubs and showers.

Final note.  It drives me crazy when a floor starts to squeak.  It's an easy fix but don't buy a new home with a floor that makes noise before you even move in.  Walk heavily over the floors (and stairs for that matter), bouncing on your toes to detect squeaks and creaks and report them to the seller or contractor.  Guys, this is especially important if you're trying to sneak into the house at 3:00 a.m. when you were expected home at 9:00 p.m.

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