Hardwood Installation

Discover tips on proper hardwood installation & replacement

Hardwood Installation Tips

Hardwood flooring installation is a relatively difficult project for the do-it-yourselfer, especially solid hardwoods. For best results, we recommend having our professional technicians install your hardwood floors.

When you have your hardwood flooring installed by our expert installers, you will enjoy:

  • The fastest installation available.
  • Reasonable prices.
  • Professional, courteous installers.
  • Quality results down to the finest detail.
  • Long term guaranteed performance.
  • Intact manufacturer warranties.

Engineered floors are more forgiving and easier to work with. If you’re thinking about installing your engineered hardwood floors yourself, the following are the basic steps you’ll need to take.

Where to Install

Solid hardwood floors may be installed above grade over wood floors. Some engineered floors may be rated for sub-grade installation or installation over cement, but the cement must be relatively dry.

Flooring Preparation

Store your flooring for at least two days in the room where you plan to install it to allow the flooring to adjust to the humidity and temperature in the room. This will help prevent problems such as cupping and gapping after installation as the floor expands and contracts.

You want a problem-free installation and, to help ensure it, here’s a checklist of things to do before the installer arrives.

  • Who’s moving the furniture? Decide in advance if you want to take on the responsibility or if you want the installer to handle it. Either way, be sure to remove all fragile items from the room.
  • In general, your hardwood should run parallel to windows or, in narrow rooms, to the longest wall. Added stability is achieved by installing hardwood perpendicular to floor joists.
  • Measure door clearances before you have your hardwood installed. If the new floor is thicker than your existing floor, door bottoms may rub. Plan in advance to have someone shave or saw the correct amount off the bottom of each door so it does not drag.
  • Paint first. If you’re planning to paint, wallpaper, or do any other remodeling in the room, it’s best to do it before your hardwood is installed. Keep extra paint to touch up any post-installation nicks.
  • Make sure you know who’s removing your existing flooring. If you wish, the installer will do it. If not, you should make arrangements to have it removed.

During Installation

To make your hardwood flooring look good now and for a long time to come, proper installation is critical. Here’s the procedure an experienced installation professional will follow:

  • Current flooring: A professional installer will evaluate your floor and subfloor construction and will know whether to remove the existing flooring or install on top of it. If it’s removed, the installer knows how much preparation is needed for the subfloor—like use of a leveling compound—or if a new subfloor should be placed over the old one.
  • Moisture testing: Proper acclimation and moisture testing of the wood flooring and subfloor are required so floors won’t cup, buckle, or develop gaps later. Your installer will follow this critical step for either solid or engineered hardwood.
  • Installation: Using the proper equipment, your installer will nail or glue boards in place, working from multiple cartons to create consistency in the look of the floor. When encountering unforeseen problems, experienced installers know how to solve them.
  • Overall quality: Professional installation ensures that your floor will look beautiful and perform well over time.

Subfloor Preparation

Subfloors must be clean, level, dry and structurally sound. If you want to install engineered hardwood over cement, you’ll need to measure the moisture level of the floor first using kits available at your local hardware store to ensure that it is not too moist for engineered hardwood.

Trim and Prep the Room

Remove all baseboards and other moldings along the floor. Trim door jambs to allow the laminate planks to slide underneath. To cut the jambs, lay a piece of flooring against the trim and use it to mark your cutting line. Then cut the jamb along the line, parallel to the floor.

Install the Vapor Barrier

If installing over cement, install vapor barrier according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Lay the First Row

Lay the first row of hardwood along the longest side of the room with the groove facing the wall. Place ½” spacers along the wall and push the plank up against them. This creates a gap to allow the floor to expand and contract after installation. If you’re installing over wood, the floor will be nailed in place. When installing over cement, it may be floated or glued. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for fastening boards to the subfloor.

Lay the Floor

Install subsequent planks by laying them in place and using a scrap board to tap them together with a rubber mallet. Tap until the tongues and grooves are joined and no gap remains. Make sure to stagger the joints of the planks for the best appearance. This will require trimming at the ends of the room. Remember to use spacers along every wall.

When installing over a wood subfloor, the planks are nailed down. When installing over cement, the floor may be floated or glued.

Install the Final Plank

The final row of planks will have to be trimmed to fit. Remember to use spacers along this wall as well.

Install Moldings

Install thresholds and base moldings to complete your installation.

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