What to consider before forking out for new flooring

Andrew Fennell, aka The General Builder, shares his handy hints to consider before forking out for new flooring


Decide where in your home you are installing flooring

Certain flooring products are much more suited to particular areas than others. Bathrooms generally have a lot more moisture accumulation. Kitchens are a common area for spillages and mess. Consider tiles and engineered-wood floors in these types of areas.

Work out what type of subfloor already exists

This is very important. As a general rule of thumb, your floor should be level and sound. Several products exist to remedy situations such as an unlevelled floor. Keep in mind this will significantly increase your installation cost, particularly with anything tongue-and-grooved such as hardwoods or engineered floors. With ceramic tiles, imperfections can be dealt with during the adhesion process before any fixing or laying.

Give your wooden floorboards a new lease on life

Refinish your existing wooden floorboards by sanding, staining and sealing the floors. Sanding is a specialist job and, when correctly carried out, it’s a very cost-effective way of renewing an existing floor, especially if you’ve removed some internal walls.

Match your old floor tiles with your new kitchen

Unfortunately, it’s likely that your new kitchen won’t easily fit over the existing tiled area because the floor tiles may not have been laid under the old cabinetry. Find a few pieces of the same, or a very similar-sized, tile and paint over them to match the existing tile. Instead of ripping up the floor, lay a few of the new tile pieces under the new cabinetry units.

Know what you’re in for before you start

To understand how much your flooring job is going to cost before you start, use the cost estimator. This will give you a good idea of the scope, types of costs, cost effect of different options and a reasonable cost range before you ask for quotes.


Andrew Fennell, The General Builder

Tile over your old wooden flooring

When laying ceramic tile, it’s important to have a strong underlay support. If it’s an existing wooden floor you must glue and screw on a suitable underlay board to avoid movement. Without a strong underlay board, your grout will, in time, crack and the tiles lift.

Decide on your tile budget

Keep in mind the long-term maintenance of your flooring. Compared to porcelain tiles, ceramic tiles will generally be cheaper to buy, are easier to work with and therefore cost less to lay. Porcelain tiles are much harder so cutting takes longer; the same applies for mosaics.

Be patient when flooring over new concrete

New concrete floors require considerable drying time before installing wood on top. Typically, you should allow one day per millimetre of concrete to dry, so for a 100mm slab, that’s about three months! If you are gluing, you must work on small areas at a time. For nailing, lay sheets of plywood first and ensure your nails are the correct depth of your plywood and are not puncturing the concrete.

Maintain and protect your floors

Engineered floors require nothing after installation and are good to go. Just use manufacturer-recommended cleaning products. For tiles, I would advise applying at least two applications of a good quality grout protector as the product penetrates the grout and helps resist staining from muddy paws or other foot traffic – it’s an absolute must with lighter grout colours. For hardwood, you can stain the floor to achieve a preferred colour and it’s always advisable to apply three coats of polyurethane for a long-lasting, quality finish.

Hire a pro

“I’ve laid a lot of floors over the years. My advice is to go on, read the reviews of potential floorers, then post your job for professionals to give you an estimate.”­­

We found Auckland-based Andrew Fennell, The General Builder, via,an online marketplace where homeowners can post jobs and builders and tradespeople can chase jobs, provide quotes and win work.

Words by: Shelley Ferguson. Photography by: Chris Warnes/  Portrait by: Bauer Media Group Studio.

Home experts are just a click away