Laurey W. Glenn

You know the material and style you want, but make sure you consider how the new flooring will fit in your space—literally.

One of the most prioritized, and often most expensive, elements to update in a home is the flooring. Floors are given a lot of decor responsibility, from designating the purpose of each room to defining different living spaces within a larger room, to creating an overarching, cohesive design aesthetic in a house.

Flooring trends certainly come and go—shag carpeting and linoleum tile anyone?—so it’s likely that you will take on a flooring project at least once or twice in your home-owner lifetime. If you’re currently planning a renovation, you might be tempted by the newest take on light stained hardwood floors, or the newly popular light gray shade of hardwoods. Or perhaps the colorful, patterned Moroccan floor tiles that have grown in popularity over the last few years have caught your eye.

Because there’s so much to consider when choosing a flooring material—from the price to the durability of the material, not to mention the style—it can be easy to overlook one of the most important practical elements of your choice: Will it fit in the space where you’re planning to install it? And we don’t mean the square footage, though that’s obviously important. When the new floor is installed, will the doors still have enough height clearance to open and close without scraping anything? If you are redoing the floor of one room, and not the adjacent rooms, will there be a height difference between the two floors?

WATCH: Using Large-Pattern Floor Tile

Floors are unique in that you don’t always need to fully remove the existing floor before installing a new one, so it’s possible you won’t be starting from scratch. (Just think about how many times Chip and Joanna Gaines have confidently pulled up dated carpet and found original hardwoods in one of their fixer-uppers.) And since every home and its history of past floors is different, height is not really something flooring manufacturers can standardize or advertise in a way that will be meaningful to every homeowner.

It’s important to consider what your existing floor height is (not only the distance to the subfloor but also in comparison to any adjacent rooms, your baseboards, and doors) and get a good idea of the condition of every layer before you make any decisions about new flooring. If you’re working with a contractor, they should advise you on this and the materials you’ve chosen, but it could be ignored in the interest of saving time and money, so make sure you raise this concern if your contractor does not.

If you don’t take the proper precautions and the new flooring you install is a significantly different height, it’s likely you’ll end up with a tripping hazard in a doorway or baseboards that have to be reinstalled, both of which would be frustrating realizations to come to after all the hard work has been done. It might be the least of your concerns when you’re first researching and shopping for floors, but don’t make the mistake of writing off the vertical specs of that tile before clicking “add to cart.”