The One Project You Should Never Skip Before Move-In Day

published Dec 28, 2021
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It’s not always possible to tick off every home renovation project on your to-do list before moving in — budgets and timelines command the final say for homeowners. But there’s one project that both pros and homeowners agree you should try your very best to get done before moving in: redoing the floors.

Floor replacement takes an average of one to three days, depending on the size of the space and how many contractors are doing the work, says Gregg Hicks, VP of Modernize Home Services. If you’re installing new hardwood floors, it can take even longer, because the wood needs time to expand and settle to avoid damage to the walls and floorboards. Refinishing and staining takes another 24 to 48 hours, and occupants need to be out of the house while the surface cures and dries. What’s more? Hicks says you should avoid placing furniture on new hardwood floors for 48 to 72 hours after installation. Considering this, a flooring project takes about a week — and that’s if everything goes smoothly.

“The process will be much more seamless if you have the project completed while the house is empty prior to moving in,” says Hicks. He also advises occupants to wear socks only on newly-stained or finished floors for at least a week. “All in all, to give yourself ample time, we recommend starting a flooring replacement project at least one week prior to your move-in date,” he says.

It’s not just timing, though. Refinishing floors — particularly the sanding aspect — can create a lot of dust you don’t want to breathe in. And said dust has a tendency to settle everywhere, so your home, and all of its contents, will need a solid wipe-down post-flooring project — which is much easier to do with limited belongings inside.

Of course, flooring isn’t the cheapest home improvement project. According to Angi, new flooring cost an average of around $12 per square foot — that can add up quickly depending on the size of your space.

“Replacing your flooring is also a disruptive process since you can’t use the space during the project,” says Bailey Carson, home care expert at Angi. “If you have pets or kids, it becomes even more of a challenge. Getting this project out of the way before moving in makes it easier to get comfortable in your new home without any major disruptions.” 

Doing other projects in conjunction with the flooring redo not only avoids further disruption, but could also save you money in the end. “If you have any other projects to get done that connect with flooring, like replacing or installing cabinets, moving walls, or installing other permanent features like bookshelves, it’s important to do the flooring at the same time,” Carson says. “Otherwise, you may end up having to take those features out to redo the flooring, making it a more expensive, more complex and longer project to complete.”

While the dream for many a homeowner may be to move into a house that’s, well, move-in ready, it’s not always possible. If your new digs need new floors, it pays off to prioritize that project before anything else.