If you have ever damaged a floor during a renovation project, you will know that it is an embarrassing and often expensive lesson to learn. Accidents can set your project back, ruin your confidence and the additional cost of repair, particularly for solid hardwood flooring, can ruin your budget.
Laying down adequate flooring protection before any work begins is a necessity for any professional tradesman but too often it’s something that ends up being a last-minute consideration for anyone tackling the project themselves.
Depending on the scale, home renovation work often requires more than just a well-placed dust sheet so it’s important to take responsibility for the preparation yourself and organise some quality floor protection in advance.
Prep’ like a pro
For lighter renovation projects there are some excellent protective films on the market, available from both trade and retail suppliers. These vary in thickness and durability, depending on how long your project will run for, the kind of flooring you are looking to protect and the numbers of people or equipment you might be involving.
Cheaper, self-adhesive protection films can be used effectively to quickly lay down a waterproof barrier and can work very well on carpeted areas that may not see too much footfall. These generally do not require additional taping, although it is often best to tape connecting edges or around doorframes. Plastic films are light and can be quickly fitted with easy removal. Most also use low-tack backing to ensure no residue gets left behind after the work is completed, although not all include anti-slip coatings. Heavier, polypropylene mesh sheeting is much more durable and also comes in rolls up to four metres wide for easily covering larger areas.
A make-life-easier tip: Areas of heavy foot traffic in particular, such as around exterior doorways or stairs, are critical to get protected so consider these first.
For more significant renovation work something more robust is often needed, particularly if it is going to be down for long periods. Whether you are undertaking a renovation project yourself or employing
professionals, approaching it in the right way is critical to achieving a smooth outcome that is completed on time and on budget. If you think like a professional, you will have a much better chance of achieving professional results. Plan ahead and if you know that you are going to be moving large items around the area make sure door frames are protected with foam door protectors, use dirt trap mats at doorways, rigid plastic protectors on stairs and steps, and even heavy duty ram boards to protect key areas.
A make-life-easier tip: If you need to tape down plastic coverings, tape applicators save a lot of time and frustration.
It is worth taking the time to budget for floor coverings as part of your overall project costs. Many cheaper floor films can be difficult to lay correctly or can leave sticky residues on surfaces when removed. Polythene sheeting is great as a low-cost or covering for a quick job but it will not allow the surfaces below to breathe. More expensive covers have permeable membranes and are also flexible and made from rip-resistant material. Barrier sheets are a durable but cheap solution and work well on carpeted or vinyl surfaces, while also offering a good, stable footing for ladders. They are tailored for the different surfaces and offer both sturdy and waterproof protection and often include non-abrasive, anti-slip surfaces. This is particularly important for covering vinyl flooring, where a cheaper solution could even slide underneath and create creases and trip hazards.
For more sensitive surfaces such as stone and tile, laminate, engineered wood or timber floorboards, consider using corrugated plastic sheeting or high density anti-slip coverings for increased peace of mind. If newly laid, they will also need a permeable membrane, allowing the floor to breathe if it needs drying or curing time. This also means that the floor is still protected from any spillage but allows you to get on with the rest of the project without needing to wait. It goes without saying that if you are going to be using any heavy wheeled traffic or lifts, durable protection is essential.
A make-life-easier tip: A freshly laid wooden floor must have breathable protection that will also protect it from scratches and scuff marks.
Don’t underestimate drywall dust. If you are planning to remove any interior walls, anticipate the dust created in advance and cover the areas of floor that will likely be affected. Apart from the health and safety aspect, it is crucial to protect your carpets in particular from any drywall dust. While it is not particularly damaging to surfaces in itself, it has a tendency to travel widely across the site and sticks to almost every surface. Fine dust in particular enters every crack, dramatically increasing the clean-up time.
Whether you are undertaking the project yourself or securing a contractor to do the work, it is worth taking steps to lay adequate protective flooring. Getting it right first time saves time and potential headaches.
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