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How To Install Solid Wood Flooring

Let Your Floors Acclimate

How to Install Solid Hardwood Floors

Just because your flooring has arrived doesnt mean you should break out the nail gun. Solid hardwood flooring needs time to acclimate to the climate of the room.

To acclimate hardwood flooring, move the packaged boards into the room where they will be installed and let them sit for several days, with the cartons open and raised off the ground, says Pastrana. This allows the moisture content of the wood to adjust to the conditions in the room. Engineered flooring does not need to be acclimated, Pastrana says that it’s best to store it in the environment before installation.

It is also important to keep the home’s relative humidity level at between 35 and 55 percent or whatever the manufacturer recommends, he adds. Doing this will help minimize any movement within the wood flooring later.

How Do You Stagger Hardwood Floors

Different Sizes Lay out your wood planks by size. Install the first row of wood planks, leaving about 1/2 inch between the row and the wall. Start your second row of planks with wood from a different stack than the first row. Continue alternating stacks when choosing the first piece of wood for each row.

How To Install Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring is a timeless and elegant option that can enhance the warmth and value of a homes interior. Environmentally sustainable and incredibly durable, hardwood can continue looking beautiful for many years with some simple maintenance. Plus, installing hardwood flooring is an easy weekend project.

Hardwood Flooring: Laminate vs. Glued Boards

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Preparing Subfloor For Hardwood Flooring

Most wood flooring goes on a typical raised, wood-framed subfloor that is surfaced with plywood or OSB subflooring panels.

The subfloor must be clean, dry, flat, structurally sound, squeak-free, and clear of any surface bumps or fasteners.

Use a long, straight board and a carpenters level to check for any dips or rises. Sand down bumps and fill dips with leveling compound.

Reseat any raised fasteners and screw down any squeaky spots using 1 1/2-inch screws.

To prevent ground moisture humidity from rising up into the room and negatively affecting the flooring, the crawlspace beneath a raised floor should be at least 18 inches high and properly vented with 1.5 square feet of vent area for every 100 square feet of crawlspace.

Cover the entire ground area with 6-mil black polyethylene, overlapping the sheets and then taping them together. Extend the material 6 inches up the concrete foundation walls and tape it in place.

Tools And Supplies The Pros Use

Solid Wood Floors Over Slab

Heres a list of the essential tools and supplies youll need for the installation of solid hardwood floors.

Power Tools: Compound miter saw, jigsaw, circular saw if installing subflooring, jamb saw for cutting door stops though you might be able to use a jigsaw or hand saw.

Installation Tools: Air compressor and nailer. Tape Measure.

Supplies: Chalk line, vapor barrier, nails for the nail gun and for hand-nailing first and last boards. You should also consider wearing safety goggles for all cutting jobs.

Preparing the Floor for Installation

The first step is to get rid of any existing flooring and shoe molding. If it is carpet, make sure you nail down or remove the padding staples. A flat shovel is a great tool for removing staples and loose debris. Remove the tack strip too, of course. If it was vinyl flooring or linoleum flooring, get rid of glue by sanding it down or scraping it off with a flat shovel. If it tears out wood with it, fill the gap with wood filler and sand the rest.

The subfloor should be OSB or plywood and needs to be reasonably level. If it contains significant dips, you may need to fill the dips with something. One favorite technique of home flooring pros is to use 3-tab, single-layer asphalt shingles, or parts of them, to raise low spots. Once that is done, a final subfloor layer of plywood is necessary to give the hardwood flooring a uniform base.

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Before Hardwood Flooring Is Delivered

The conditions of your home must be ready for hardwood flooring before the material is delivered.

In fact, wood flooring is typically one of the last installations during a remodel.

To avoid physical damage to the surface, be sure it goes in after all construction and completed installation of any fixtures and appliances that will not sit on top of it.

How To Install Hardwood Floors

Go from subfloor to breathtaking in as little as a day. Follow this guide for installing hardwood floors in your home.

Hardwood floors are beautiful, last a lifetime, and are easy to install. With no special tools, you can go from subfloor to breathtaking in as little as a day. Before we get started with how to install hardwood floors, lets cover a few basics.

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Hardwood Installation Method #: Click

Just as the name implies, click-together or snap-together flooring locks into place using special grooves in each plank. These floors arent attached to a subfloor at all. Rather, they stay in place thanks to the pressure of the planks and surrounding walls. Hence, they float on top of the subfloor. Voila! Floating floors.

Compared to dealing with messy, smelly glue or nail/staple guns, floating floors are WAY easier to install. If youre wondering how to install hardwood floors as a do-it-yourself flooring option, this is by far the easiest way to go. Most engineered hardwood options can be purchased as click-together flooring, while solid wood click-together products are a bit less common.

Because floating floor planks click together like puzzle pieces, you get a seamless surfaceif thats your jam. But if you prefer a more rustic look, you can find that too. Kahrs, for instance, manufactures some of the best engineered wood flooring for people who want features like beveled edges and saw marks.

Now, you might be wonderingif theyre faster and easier to install, whatre the disadvantages of floating floors? Good question! The biggest complaints are a squishy or hollow feeling in the floors. But were here to tell yathats often due to inadequate underlayment and/or other installation issues rather than due to the flooring itself.

Pro tip: If youre interested in some of these alternatives to hardwood, read up on fake wood flooring!

How To Lay A Solid Wood Floor

How to Install Solid Hardwood

Originally posted 17th July 2019. Last updated 11th June 2021.

Post Authors
Paul Hambidge

Managing Director Factory Direct Flooring Ltd

Approaching the task of laying solid wood flooring can make even the most seasoned DIY fan feel a little lost. There’s a lot at stake when it comes to fitting this beautiful product in your home, especially as laying it wrong can come back to haunt you in the future. To help get you on the right path to fantastic floors we’ve looked at the tools you need for laying solid wood flooring, from your own hands to the nail in the final plank of wood.

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Let Your New Hardwood Flooring Acclimate

Weve said beforehardwood is amazing and beautiful, but porous. Thanks to the lovely pores in real hardwood, the planks are prone to expansion and contraction. Let them sit in the new room for 5-7 days to acclimate. Otherwise, theyre going to warp and swell and blow your house down. Kidding. Theyll just ruin your floors. And were willing to bet you didnt factor that into your wood flooring cost.

How Is Solid Wood Fitted

Before fitting wood flooring, it needs to be left to acclimatise in the room it will be laid in. This allows the wood to adapt to its new environments temperature. Giving at least 72 hours prevents the wood expanding once its already been laid.

There are three main fitting methods when it comes to fitting wood flooring: Glue-down, secret nailing/screwing and floating floors.

When it comes to solid wood flooring, we advise against using a floating floor. This is an installation method best reserved for engineered wood and laminate flooring, as the flooring is not attached to the subfloor hence the floating name.

Solid wood needs to be fixed to the floor, therefore a floating floor would not be secure enough.

So how can you install solid wood?

You can glue your wood directly to the subfloor. Referred to as a glue-down installation, special adhesive is applied to a wood or concrete subfloor before laying the flooring on top.

If youve got a concrete subfloor, you should use a damp-proof membrane before laying your flooring. This prevents moisture from your subfloor damaging your flooring over time.

The second fitting method wed recommend is secret nailing. This is where a nail is driven through the tongue of a wooden plank. This then secures the plank to the subfloor.

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Add The Finishing Touches

The finishing details can make or break the success of a professional-looking job, so dont cut corners here, says Pastrana, who notes that you may need to cut boards lengthwise for the last row. Once you are nearly finished,trace for contours to be cut and fitted according to the installation guide. When all rows are installed, remove the spacers and attach trim and moldings.

How To Lay Solid Wood Flooring

Step 1

Line up an offcut of floorboard with the architrave. Use a panel saw to trim the architrave to its height. Then, use a hammer and chisel to remove enough of the bottom of the architrave that the solid wood will fit underneath it. Be sure to leave a 10-12mm expansion gap.

Step 2

Once youve worked out how many rows of boards youll need, and the width of the last row, you may need to do some cutting to ensure your last row isnt less than 60mm wide. If necessary, cut the boards in your first row accordingly so that your last row wont be too narrow.

Step 3

Starting in the left-hand corner of the longest wall, use a trowel to spread adhesive from the wall to the width of two planks.

Step 4

Lay the first board with the groove side facing the wall. Depending on the length of the board, place one or two 10-12mm spacers along the length, and one across the width.

Step 5

Introduce the next board at an angle of around 20-30° and lower into place. Take great care with the alignment as it is key that your first row is perfectly straight. Add spacers to maintain an expansion gap between the board and the wall.

Step 6

Continue laying until you cant lay any more full boards, ensuring the line of boards is perfectly straight. To fill the gap at the end of a row, measure the distance between the last full board and the wall spacer.

Step 7
Step 8

Clamp the board into a workbench and cut with a jigsaw or a panel saw. Then place the cut board into position to complete the first row.

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Hardwood Installation Method #: Stapling To A Subfloor

Both solid and engineered wood flooring can also be stapled to a subfloor rather than being nailed. The process is much the same as the nail-down method, but it uses staples. Surprise.

What are the pros and cons of using nails vs. staples? Well, staples have a firmer grip on your wood planksmeaning the boards are more secure. But, nails are more forgiving with movement. And when it comes to the inevitable expansion and contraction of the solid hardwood planks, thats definitely something to consider.

What Is Engineered Vs Solid Wood Flooring

While solid wood flooring uses boards cut from a single piece of hardwood, engineered floorboards are made by gluing multiple layers of material together. Engineered cherry wood flooring, for example, has a top veneer of cherry wood which is glued to layers of backing material such as plywood, pressboard, fiberboard or, in the case of Carlisles superior products, Baltic Birch. This type of construction forms a strong core that is more resistant than solid wood flooring to large changes in humidity or temperature. Engineered flooring is ideal for homes where the relative humidity is much higher in summer, or in places like basements, over radiant heating systems and on concrete slabs.

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Laying The First Rows Of A Wood Floor

For the first three rows of flooring, choose very straight boards. Then cut one starter board for each row. The boards should vary in length by at least 6 inches so the end joints will be staggered by at least 6 inches from row to row.

Face the tongue of the first row of boards away from the wall and dry-fit the boards in place. Use 1/2-inch spacers along the base of the wall to provide an even expansion gap between the flooring and the wall .

Use a measuring tape to measure from the guideline to the boards edge to double-check that it is the same distance at both ends. Hold the board in place and top-nail it to the subfloor with 1 1/2-inch finishing nails placed about 3 inches from the boards ends and about 1/2 inch from the grooved edge at 6-inch intervals. Set the heads below the surface using a nailset. Install all of the boards in the first row.

Fit a board for the second row so that its groove interlocks tightly with the tongue of the first row. Use a tapping block or small piece of flooring to protect the tongue and tap the second row boards tightly against the first row.

Then blind-nail through the tongue, placing a nail 3 to 4 inches from the end of each board and every 8 to 10 inches along its length where possible, nail through the subfloor into the floor joists. Until you reach the second or third row where you can fit the flooring nailer in place, youll have to do this blind-nailing by hand with a drill, hammer, and nailset.

Hardwood Installation Method #: Glueing To A Subfloor

How to Install Westhollow Solid Hardwood Flooring

Many types of wood flooring can be glued to a subfloor, and youll often see this method used to create amazing wood floor designs .

Additionally: lots of other types of flooring are commonly sold as glue-down productsif youre looking into the best cork flooring, for example, youll see that many of your options can be installed this way.

But doyour research. Some flooring adhesives contain VOCs , which can emit toxins in your home. Again: we urge you to find a nearby flooring store so you know exactly whos installing your floors and exactly what theyre using to do it. If you want to know how to install hardwood floors without toxins, theyre the ones to ask!

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If You Are Fixing Solid Wood Flooring To Existing Timber:

  • nailing will be the best option. Although it is good to lay the new board at a 90° angle to the old, it is not imperative. That said, this is essential if you are nailing directly to the joists.
  • Because you are likely to be fixing your solid wood boards to the subfloor, underlay is not usually used, but there are slatted underlays you can buy for the purpose, with pre-cut slots that allow the floor to be glued directly to the subfloor .

Before beginning work, skirting boards should ideally be removed to achieve the neatest finish. Some homeowners do, however, choose to leave skirting in place and use quadrant beading to cover the gap between the floor and skirting although the finish is rarely quite a polished.

Most solid wood flooring comes with tongue-and-groove edges and can be either glued or secret nailed, but before you begin, remember you will need to leave an expansion gap around the walls of around 15mm to allow for movement. You can pick up plastic spacers to do the job for you.

Depending on the size of your room, it should take around two to three days to lay wood flooring, although it has to be said that laying a fixed solid floor is a more time-consuming task than installing engineered wood. The results, however, speak for themselves.

Acclimatise Your Wood Floor

As soon as your hardwood flooring has been delivered to your property, it is important to let it acclimatise sufficiently. Acclimatising means to allow the flooring to adapt to its new surroundings. Hardwood is a natural product and will inevitably expand and contract with changes in heat and humidity. By letting you hardwood flooring acclimatising to your home, you are reducing the risk of damage to the wood once installed. Here are some simple steps to follow to make sure you acclimatise your floor properly:

  • Make sure your floor is delivered in plenty of time before the installation starts.
  • Put the hardwood flooring, still in its packaging, in the room where it is going to be installed.
  • The room should be thoroughly dry. The hardwood should not be left on a damp floor or in an area with wet plaster on the walls.
  • Make sure you do not leave the wooden flooring directly next to a heater or radiator.
  • Leave solid wood flooring to acclimatise for at least 7 days.
  • Leave engineered wood flooring to acclimatise for at least 72 hours.

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Completing A Wood Floor Installation

Now it is time to dry fit five or six rows of flooring, sorting and positioning the boards for a pleasing pattern and appearance. Remember to stagger the end joints by at least 6 inches. At the end of each row, cut boards to fit. Its smart to pull flooring from several different packages or boxes to mix up any variations in wood color and grain.

Next, nudge all but one of the loose rows away from the attached second row and, if possible, begin the process of blind-nailing with a pneumatic floor nailer.

HomeTips Pro Tip:If the flooring nailer does not have a protective plastic boot to prevent it from scratching the floor, cover its metal base with masking tape.

At floor heating registers, always cut boards to fit the opening before installing them. When you come to an obstacle such as a fireplace hearth, miter boards to create a border that will frame it.

Glue this in place and then face-nail it. Also consider gluing the ends of the boards fitting snugly against it.

Continue across the floor. When you get to the last two or three rows, it will be difficult to use the floor nailer, so you may need to top-nail as you did the first row. To force the boards tightly together, use a small pry bar. Fill any face nail holes with wood putty and wipe off the excess.

When you reach the final row, you may need to rip-cut lengths of flooring to fit.

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