Where Do You Start when Laying Flooring?

If you want to give your home a fresh look, replacing your floors can be one of the best places to start. New flooring can completely transform your living space, but it’s essential that the installation is done correctly. Attempting to lay flooring on your own can save you money on labor costs, but it can also turn into a major headache if you don’t know what you’re doing. Whether you’re going the DIY route or hiring a contractor after Googling “flooring companies near me,” you should have a basic understanding of whether flooring should be laid starting in the middle of a room or at the edges.


Tile flooring is attractive and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, and it can be a great option for high-traffic area and rooms near water sources, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Porcelain and ceramic tiles are durable and easy to clean, and they can last for years. However, they are among the most difficult flooring options to install because several steps are involved, from subfloor preparation to final grout application.

You’ll save time and money if you lay out your tile prior to setting them in place. The first step in laying out the tile is to find the midpoint of each wall and snap chalk lines on the floor. The starting point for laying your tile will be in the center of the room where the lines cross. You should begin laying the tile at this center point and work outward from there. It’s important to mark a layout line to ensure the tile pattern is centered evenly and the layout grid is square to prevent having tiles that are oddly shaped along the room’s walls. Doing a dry layout by laying a single row of tiles in each direction without mortar will help you ensure the completed floor will be centered. 


Deciding where to start with laying hardwood flooring depends on factors such as the size of the room, where the doorways are located, and the direction the boards will be laid in. Many flooring installation professionals prefer to start laying the first course of hardwood in the middle of a room instead of against a wall to achieve visual balance and allow the wood to expand equally in both directions, which can reduce the potential for cupping.

Starting in the center is also advisable if the room is large and has a doorway in the center of the wall because it makes it easier to ensure a straight line of view from the door. Also, if your flooring is going to extend into an adjoining hallway from a main room, such as a living room or bedroom, and you want the first course to run along the wall in the hallway, it has to be run down the middle of the main room. 

That said, some floor installers like to lay the first course of hardwood against a wall because it can make the process easier. This can work well in square or rectangular rooms, but if the room has an uneven shape or the flooring is laid diagonally, it’s not practical to start against a wall. In these cases, the best method is to snap a line down the center of the room and use that as a reference point for laying the first course. 


Laying laminate flooring doesn’t follow the same rules as those for tile and hardwood flooring. While it’s possible to start in the center of the room, it’s not really practical in light of the way laminate flooring is constructed. First, starting in the middle will require spending a lot more time cutting pieces and battling to make them fit along the room’s edges. In addition, most laminate flooring is the tongue-and-groove type, which presumes installation is going to run from left to right.

If the room’s door is on a shorter wall, planks should be laid starting on the side of the room with the door to ensure the threshold has an edge that’s clean and uncut. The first row of planks should be placed so the tongue side faces the wall. As with hardwood flooring, laminate expands and contracts in response to fluctuations in humidity and temperature, so spacers will need to be placed along the wall to create a consistent gap around the floor’s edges. 

Having your flooring laid properly from the start is one of the best ways to ensure you’ll be happy with your floors for years to come. The design team from Forever Builders, one of the top remodeling and flooring companies San Diego homeowners rely on for honesty and impeccable service, will help you choose exactly the right flooring for your needs, and we’ll install it quickly, correctly, and efficiently. From design choices to installation, we’ll help you create the home of your dreams while keeping your costs within budget. To find out more about our exceptional flooring and remodeling services, give one of our friendly team members a call today at (833) 243-5624.

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