Wood Flooring Installation

A Quality Wood Floor Installation Starts with a Solid Subfloor Surface

By Mark J. Donovan

The three most commonly used wood flooring installation methods are nailed/stapled, glued and floating. Nailed/stapled wood floor installation is typically used for solid or engineered wood flooring products. Glued wood floor installation is reserved for certain engineered flooring products, and the floating method is used on engineered wood floor products.

Besides its natural beauty and durability wood flooring also reduces allergy symptoms compared to carpeting. Wood flooring is ideal for almost anywhere in the home.

It can even be used in traditionally moist rooms such as in bathrooms and kitchens if it is given a strong finish and is regularly maintained.

Wood flooring installation even in the basement is possible with the use of vapor barriers and the construction of a wood subfloor over the concrete slab.

Wood floor installation requires some significant skill to obtain a professional job that will hold up over time and climate conditions within the home.

Historically wood flooring was installed in strip or plank pieces and then sanded and finished. This method of wood floor installation still goes on today, however there are other options now available to homeowners and wood flooring installation contractors.

Prefinished wood flooring products are available on the market today that eliminates the need for sanding and finishing. Prefinished wood flooring products come similarly in strip or plank pieces, however each piece has a finished surface. Similarly there are engineered wood floor products available today in panel sections that also do not required sanding and finishing.

If you plan on tackling your own wood floor installation project consider using prefinished wood flooring products, particularly if you are installing a wood floor in an existing finished home. Sanding wood floors is extremely dusty and noisy work. It also requires the proper sanding tools, such as a drum sander, and if used improperly can gouge and scratch the wood floor. Also, applying stain and the appropriate coats of polyurethane sealers takes time, smells bad, and requires a little artwork. The last thing you want to do is install a hardwood floor and then put on a stain and sealer that leaves you with some odd color that you did not expect.

Wood Floor Installation Tips

Wood floor installation requires a properly prepared subfloor that has little to no deflection, and is smooth and level.

Prior to any wood floor installation project the wood flooring material should be placed in the room that it is to be installed in for at least 72 hours. Allowing the wood flooring to acclimate to the temperature and moisture level in the room helps to ensure an easier installation and prevent cracks and ridges from showing up in the wood floor down the road.

When installing wood flooring always install it using the proper wood floor installation method recommended by the flooring manufacture.

Wood Flooring Installation Bid Sheet

Also, always install wood flooring perpendicular to the floor joists so that the wood floor is nailed securely into the floor joists. Fastening a wood floor to simply the subfloor sheathing is a recipe for a wood floor installation disaster.

Mark the floor joist locations on the adjacent walls for a reference.

Next, apply a layer of 15 lb felt paper on the subfloor to act as a moisture barrier and to reduce potential squeaks.

Then mark a centerline on the felt paper covered subfloor using a chalk line and tape measure. This task will tell how square the room is.

If the room is out of square, position the tongue side of the first piece of wood flooring parallel to your center line and then mark and rip the groove side of the wood floor plank so that it is parallel with the wall. To finely rip plank wood floor pieces you will need a table saw with a fence. For end cuts use a miter saw or circular saw with a fine tooth blade (many teeth per inch).

When installing wood floor planks or strips, it is best to layout out several rows at a time and to stagger them so that joints are at least 6 to 8 inches apart. Always install pieces that are at least 10 inches in length and leave a ½ inch gap at the wall edge for expansion. Leaving the gap at the wall edge will allow the wood floor to expand freely which will prevent ridging and buckling as the wood floor swells an during moist climate conditions.

When the wood flooring installation method involves blind nailing, such as is the case when installing a wood plank or strips, make sure to use a nail punch to sink the nails versus using a hammer. Attempting to use a hammer to flush nail will lead to dents and dings in the finished wood floor surface.

For help on finding a wood flooring installation contractor, see HomeAdditionPlus.com’s Wood Flooring Installation Bid Sheet. It will help ensure that you find and hire the right flooring installation contractor for your wood flooring project. In addition, it will help to ensure that your wood floor installation is completed on time and on budget.

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