Install Hardwood Floor
Some homeowners are returning to floors with a more traditional look, and although some laminate floors come close, nothing quite matches the look and feel of hardwood.
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Materials and Tools:
hardwood flooring glue
hardwood floor strips
1/4" lauan (pronounced loo'-ahn) plywood underlayment
pneumatic stapler (you can rent this tool)
- Hardwood floors should not be installed in rooms that are below grade (below the ground). These areas are at greater risk of moisture damage.
- Hardwood floors should be installed only over solid, sturdy surfaces. If you 're unsure about installing hardwood over your existing floors, check with the hardwood floor manufacturer.
1. Start by measuring the square footage of the area where you plan to install the floor. Add 5 percent to the amount to make up for scratched wood and cutting errors. You might even want to draw a diagram of the area; the folks at your local home center can use it to help you determine how much material to buy.
2. When you get the flooring strips home, open the packages and let them acclimate to the temperature and humidity of your home for at least 72 hours.
3. Remove all of the furniture and appliances from the room you'll be working in. Make sure that stationary appliances such as your dishwasher will have enough clearance to be removed later if necessary. If you have gas appliances, contact a licensed plumber about disconnecting them.
4. Carefully remove the shoe molding from around the room; you may be able to reuse it after your floor is finished. Remove any doorway thresholds. You may also need to cut away a portion of the bottom of the doorjambs.
5. Measure and cut 1/4" plywood to use as underlayment on the floor, and attach it to the floor with staples or nails. A pneumatic stapler can make this job go much more quickly. Be sure to stagger the joints and seams so you don't have four corners meeting in the same place. Countersink the fasteners to make sure they don't interfere with the hardwood. If you're installing the hardwood over concrete, you'll probably need a vapor barrier on top of the underlayment.
6. Inspect your flooring strips. Some may have gouges, scratches or broken areas. Be sure to check the tongue of each board; if it's damaged it won't join properly with other boards.
7. Measure and mark a spot 12 inches from the left and right side of the wall where you plan to start. Then snap a chalk line between the two marks.
8. Dry-fit a set of strips starting at the chalk line and moving toward the closest wall. Slide the strips forward or backward so that there's a 1/2-inch expansion gap between the last strip and the wall. Draw a line along the edge of the strips facing into the room to use as a new starting point.
9. Vacuum the floor to remove as much dust and debris as possible.
10. Nail some support boards (you can use scrap floor strips) along the starting line on the side closest to the wall. You'll be installing the floor planks toward the middle of the room, and these boards will provide support when you need to tap the floor planks tighter.
11. Use a notched trowel to begin spreading glue along the starting line. Hold the trowel at a 45-degree angle for smooth, even coverage, and spread enough glue for about four rows of floor planks. Be sure you're using the correct glue; manufacturers use different glues for different types of installations.
12. Now you can start installing the floor planks. Work with one row at a time using planks from several different cartons at once to ensure a good mixture of color and shade. Be careful not to install the planks so that two ends are next to each other; the planks come in a variety of lengths, so this shouldn't be a problem.
13. Tap the sides of the planks with a tapping block as you complete every third or fourth row to be sure the rows are as tight as possible.
Occasionally apply masking tape across the rows to be sure they're not spreading apart.
When you get to the end of a row, you'll need to cut a plank to fit. For best results use a power miter saw, and make your cuts with the finished side of the wood facing up. Also, be sure to cut off the tongue end, not the grooved end.
When you get to the far wall, you may have to rip (cut lengthwise) the final pieces.
14. When you're ready to install the flooring between the starting line and the wall, remove the support blocks and apply glue to the floor. Continue the installation as before until all the planks are in place. You may want to use a pry bar to tighten the final planks.
15. Remove everything from the floor except for the tape. Allow the glue to dry for 24 hours and avoid walking on the floor; foot traffic could cause the boards to shift apart.
16. Finish the installation by replacing the shoe molding and attaching thresholds (also known as transition strips).
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