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Flooring Installation

Hardwood Flooring InstallationInstalling your own hardwood floors may seem like a daunting task but with the right tools, instruction and motivation almost anyone can do it. Every hardwood flooring installation will be different and pose many challenges which is why proper planning, pacing, and attention to detail is required.

Step 1: Measure the Project

The first step is to assess and measure the project. Precise measurements of the area being covered are necessary. You should also note if there are any irregularities or obstacles to install around, such as floor vents, doors, or fireplaces. Once you have measured the area being covered and planned the lay of the floor examine the sub-floor for any height variations or problematic areas. A subfloor should not vary more than 3/16″ over a 10′ span. This can be checked with a long straight edge.

Step 2: Choose Flooring & Order Materials

Choosing flooring and ordering materials is always done after planning to keep yourself from ordering too much or not enough initially. Deciding what kind of wood you want is important. How do you want it to look? What color would you like? How durable does the finish need to be?

When one chooses flooring they must choose between solid and engineered hardwood flooring. They are significantly different.

Solid hardwood flooring is milled from lumber, and vulnerable to moisture and temperature. It will expand and contract with the seasons. Warping or gapping are common during extreme humidity changes. For this reason, solid hardwood flooring should only be installed above-grade.

Engineered wood flooring is made with a veneer over a ply-wood like material. When the engineered flooring materials are layered and bonded well, they are much more stable than solid flooring material. More resistant to changes in humidity and temperature, engineered hardwood flooring can be installed above or below grade. Engineered flooring is recommended for all concrete subfloor installations.

Step 3: Prepare Installation Area

Clear the installation area you will be working in thouroughly and get all your tools together. Clean up often during installation. These steps will ensure an efficient installation.

Here are the tools you’ll need:

  • Flooring Stapler, Angle Nailer and Air Compressor
  • Miter “Chop” Saw, Table Saw, Jig Saw and Hand Saws
  • Claw Hammer & Various Pry Bars
  • Nail Set
  • Razor Blade

Step 4: Level & Prepare Subfloor

Once you have your materials and are ready to start you should prepare your subfloor. This consists of making sure your subfloor is level enough to make sure the flooring will look right and be free of gaps or uneven boards. If there is a high or low point it is easy enough to take care of. You can lift the subfloor and plane the joists or pad them accordingly if they are too low. However, if you decide to plane your joists you should be aware it has the potential to weaken the structural integrity of that joist and you should make sure it is in good enough shape to avoid a problem.

Once your subfloor is level you can lay your underlayment. Once again, perpendicular to the joists in the floor is preferable as it is a stronger design but perpendicular can be done with a strong enough floor. You want to let the underlayment acclimate to the room, which means leaving it for 7-10 days. You do not want to put any weight on the floor during this time, so no furniture or boxes. You also don’t want to run the air conditioning or let it get wet. Spring and Fall are the best seasons to install your hardwood floor, but it can be done during summer or winter if precautions are taken.

Step 5: Start First Row (IMPORTANT!)

When you are ready to lay the floor the first step is the most important. Getting a good start on the floor will set a good tone for the rest of the flooring and a sloppy job can cause gaps or uneven flooring later. Laying the first row is the most important part of the flooring and if done correctly will make the rest of the floor much easier.

Step 6: Lay Flooring in the Field

Use flooring from several boxes when installing for even distribution. Installing the rest of the floor can be simple if the first row is done with care, but there are still some obstacles. As mentioned before; you will have to work around vents, fireplaces, and doors but as long as you’ve planned properly they should not pose a problem. This is where the chop saw will come in handy. If you have a jigsaw or a hand saw those are also useful. Be precise in cutting and cut around the obstacles.

Step 7: Finish the Last Row

When you get to the final rows the angle stapler or hardwood floor nailer may not work anymore as they may require the space behind them. If the flooring was done correctly the last row should fit right in and you can blind nail it without a problem.

Step 8: Install Baseboards & Transitions

Once that is done all you have to do is the transitions and install a trim or show molding for the edges.

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