Very few home improvement projects can effectively transform the beauty, warmth, style and value of your home like new hardwood flooring. There are 2 main types of hardwood flooring – engineered and solid flooring. Engineered floors are thinner compared to solid ones, which make them great for home remodeling.
This is because you can install them on top of an existing floor, without considerably changing your floor heights, as well as transitions between the different rooms. Engineered hardwood floors are your best bet if you plan to install a floor by yourself. The fact that they are prefinished, eliminates the need for sanding and finishing, thereby making the job simpler and faster. In this guide, you’ll learn step by step, how to install engineered hardwood flooring from the beginning to the end.
But first, let’s look at the necessary tools and materials you’ll need for this project:
- Flooring stapler
- Hand saw
- Table saw
- Hearing protection
- Knee pads
- Chalk line
- Jig saw
- Air compressor
- Cordless drill
- Wood screws
- Pull bar
- Nail gun
- Wood Putty
- Engineered wood flooring
- Narrow crown staples
- Rosin paper
- Transition pieces
- Painter’s tape
The Installation Process
For quality and durable results, you need to prepare properly before commencing this project. This involves preparing the installation area and the sub floor. Let’s look at each of them in great detail:
Preparing The Installation Area
Start by measuring the length and width of the room where you’d like to install the floor, and multiply the measurements to obtain the square footage of the room. When making your order for the flooring, be sure to add an additional 10% to allow for cutting as well as fitting.
Once your order arrives, stack them in the room where the installation will take place for at least one or two weeks before commencing the project. This helps to give the wood enough time to get used to the climate in your home. If your home is newly-constructed, ensure that the room is air-conditioned or heated continuously to match the temperature of a normally, occupied space.
Preparing The Sub-Floor
Engineered floors can be installed either on top of a plywood sub-floor, or old wood flooring. The sub floor should be at least � inches thick. And if you intend to install it on top of a single layer of plywood, it is recommended to add either commercial floor substrate material or an additional layer of about ¼ to � inch of plywood.
Use a wooden screw to attach the substrate material to the floor joists. The subfloor should be clean, flat, dry and squeak-free. So, if you locate any squeaky spots, you need to screw the spots immediately.
You also need to check for any rises or deeps using a carpenter’s level and straight, long board. Sand the bumps accordingly and fill the dips with using a leveling material.
Remove any shoe or base molding near the room’s perimeter. And then vacuum the floor to keep foreign materials and dirt from the work area.
Installing A Vapor Barrier
If moisture is a problem where you live, you need to install a vapor barrier below the flooring. This helps to prevent ground moisture from rising into the room, and affecting your new floor. Roll out the barrier to cover the whole ground, making sure it extends up to foundation walls. Then flatten any wrinkles or bumps and tape it in place.
Laying The Installation
You can choose to install your hardwood flooring either across, or perpendicular to the floor joists depending on your personal tastes and preferences. But, since all woods contract and expand, it is very important that you measure and leave at least � inch gap around the room’s perimeter for this purpose. Use a chalk line to mark the starter lines.
To prevent noticeable color changes, select boards randomly from several boxes, and lay them on the floor. Choose long strips for the first row, as it is much easier to align them inside the chalk line. Begin � inches away from the end of the wall, and face nail your flooring every 16 inches.
Continue installation on the other rows once the boards in the first raw are attached firmly. However, ensure that every board is tightly locked against the previous row, as even the smallest gap can cause the entire floor to look off.
When the installation is complete, you need to do some finishing touches to ensure the end result is of high quality and aesthetically pleasing. This includes cutting off any excess underlayment, which sticks around the edges, installing shoe moldings and baseboards, and nailing them to the wall. Finally, use a wood putty to touch up any slight installation marks and damages, and fill the holes where the boards were face nailed. Wood putty with a color that matches the finished floor is highly recommended.
Follow these detailed steps to help you install your prefinished hardwood flooring. The whole installation process should take only 1-2 days. When you’re done, enjoy the new look of your home.