Instructions for Installing Hardwood Floors

A basic guide to installing hardwood Floors Yourself or a Contractor

Selecting and installing the right floor covering material for your home or business requires research and special attention. One very popular choice is wood. Hardwood floor lends itself as a viable choice for durable and elegant flooring material.

This basic hardwood floor installation guide is designed to help guide you through selecting the right installation if you are planning on doing the installation yourself or if you are looking to hire a local hardwood flooring installation company for your wood floor project.

When installing a new hardwood floor, it is best to understand and decide which of the three wood flooring installation methods to consider. The method of procedure is always determined by the type of wood material and job site condition or existing sub-floor system.
• Stapled or Nailed Down Wood Floor Installation – This type of installation is used when the wood material is nailed or stapled to a suitable substrate.
• Glued Down – A wood floor installation that is glued to a suitable subfloor. This type of installation is mostly used when nailed down is not possible. It is usually used on concrete substrates.
• Floating Wood Floor – is neither floor installation that is not nailed down nor glue down. It is a method used to install engineered wood planks that have an interlocking mechanism. It can be installed over any type of substrate as long as it is clean, dry, and flat.

Doing the Installation Yourself

If you are planning on doing the installation and do not mind doing careful research and some hard work, installing a hardwood floor can be an experience you’ll enjoy and take pride in. You may also save a bundle of money.

Once a decision has been made on which wood floor installation method to use, make the selection of color, finish, or manufacturer of choice. If you are doing the installation yourself, ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for proper installation. In addition to selecting the appropriate installation method, a careful inspection of the existing floor, its foundation, integrity, and underlayment must be performed. The subfloor system should be structurally sound, clean, flat, and dry.

Hiring a Contractor

If you decide that doing the installation yourself is over your head then consider hiring a trained and professional well experienced wood floor Installation Company. But before you make this decision, consider these key factors to hiring a contractor:

Be sure that references are provided and then check them out thoroughly
Look through their portfolio of completed wood floor installation to confirm that they are knowledgeable in installing the type of floor and method that you’ve chosen.
If possible, go to a site where the installer is in the process of installing the same type of hardwood that you’ve chosen.
Read the contract thoroughly and be sure that it includes a time frame to finish the installation and the final cost.
Ensure that they have proper or required insurance coverage.
If your city or town has a licensing requirement check that they are properly licensed or registered.
Do not go by the lowest price. Ensure that they have provided or convinced you that they are the best value because they have are the most experienced, have the best tools and equipment, carry the proper insurance, and have a positive reputation.

Preparations for Hardwood Floor Installation

Before the first board is cut or the first nail is nailed, job site inspection and preparation are a must. Proper preparation can make a world of difference in your investment for the immediate or long term of your floor, especially if the job site is completely new construction.

One of the most important preparations or considerations is moisture. Ensure that all doors and windows are properly installed and closed, that all exterior water drainage is directing water away from the home or building, any type of wet installation such as plastering, concrete, tiling, or painting is completely dry.

Proper ventilation is a must during warm months. All this is in an effort to keep the wood material from being exposed to too much humidity that could cause a floor to buckle or crown later on.

In addition to moisture control, ensure that when the wood floor material is delivered, a moisture content measurement is taken and compared to the existing moisture levels to establish a baseline. This will allow for proper acclimatizing of wood if needed. Some wood materials may not need this but others such as solid wood; especially wide plank will most likely need it.

When replacing the existing floor covering with wood, ensure that the existing flooring material is removed. These types of flooring material may not be suitable underlayment for proper wood floor installation. In addition, removing any existing flooring material will make it possible to properly inspect the existing condition of the sub-floor.

Installation over radiant heat – Wood can be installed over radiant heat. It is very important to select the proper wood species or select an engineered type of wood floor that is more dimensionally stable.

Installing hardwood on the bathroom or basement floor may not be a good choice. Due to the excessive moisture levels on the basement floor or a bathroom and the ability of wood to expand and contract depending on the moisture levels.

Where to Find Help

There are vast resources of helpful information, both online and off about installing a hardwood floor yourself or choosing a professional.

Associations such as NWFA (National Wood Flooring Association) and HMA (Hardwood Manufacturing Association) are excellent sources to obtain manuals and advice before you shop or install hardwoods. Purchasing and/or installing a beautiful hardwood floor requires educating yourself about all aspects of hardwoods from types and finishes of wood to installing and maintaining it afterward. For more information on buying the right hardwood flooring; check our hardwood buying guide.

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