How to Install Hardwood Flooring

Get expert installation tips and tricks

Hardwood flooring

Timber Floors/Flickr/CC 2.0

Installing hardwood flooring might present big challenges for a novice builder. Following the best technique for hardwood flooring will produce you a bright, durable and beautiful product for on your construction project.

Hardwood Flooring Installation Areas

A hardwood floor could be installed above grade or on grade in the following subfloors:

  • Wood Subfloors either plywood or OSB board. Remember that wood subfloors must be structurally sound and free from movement.
  • Concrete subfloors. When installing hardwood flooring on concrete, this must be at least 30 days old and must have passed all moisture tests.
  • Hardwood flooring could be installed over radiant heating systems, only if approved and recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Hardwood flooring could also be installed over tile, stone, bamboo, and vinyl. These surfaces must be checked for integrity prior hardwood installation.

    Hardwood floors are not recommended in areas where high moisture is present unless approved by the manufacturer.

    Hardwood Flooring Installation Material

    Installing hardwood floor requires some basics materials such as:

    • Broom
    • Carpenter's square
    • Chalk line
    • Crow Bar
    • Electric Saw with carbide tipped blade
    • Hammer
    • Jigsaw
    • Spacers
    • Tapping block
    • Utility knife
    • Utility towels
    • Soft rubber mallet
    • There are other materials needed depending on the type of hardwood installation.

    Hardwood Flooring Installation Techniques

    Hardwood flooring installation could be done using the following techniques:

    • Glue down Installation
    • Nail Down / Staple Installation
    • Floating Engineered Installation
    • Glueless Installation

    Hardwood Flooring Installation: Surface Preparation

    The most important aspect of installing a hardwood floor is the surface preparation. Prior to installing hardwood floors be sure to:

    • Remove all existing flooring.
    • Verify moisture levels using a moisture meter to test subfloor moisture. A maximum of 4 percent is allowed between the subfloor and the hardwood flooring.
    • A PH alkalinity test must be performed on all concrete subfloors.
    • A calcium chloride test is also recommended on concrete subfloors.
    • Your subfloor surface must be level, clean and free of bumps. If required use self-leveling products and sand down high spots.
    • Store your hardwood floor near or where it will be installed. It is recommended that your hardwood floor could have the same characteristics as the place where it will be installed.
    • Measure your hardwood flooring moisture and follow strict manufacturer's recommendations.
    • Remove all door casings in the area where the hardwood flooring will be installed.
    • Remove door and molding.
    • Sweep and pick up any debris from your floor before the hardwood flooring installation.

    Hardwood Flooring Installation Tips

    The following tips are recommended when installing hardwood flooring:

    • Use a carbide tipped blade to cut the hardwood flooring.
    • Saw the pre-finished side first to minimize chipping the hardwood flooring.
    • To reduce the chipping possibility, use blue painters tape as a guide.
    • Roll out enough felt paper to cover the sub-floor and trim the edges.
    • Leave an expansion gap at the starting and ending rows. The gap should be the same as the thickness of the hardwood flooring.
    • Move the hardwood into position using a tapping block.
    • Avoid cutting hardwood flooring inside the room where the installation will take place.
    • Professional installers recommend start working from left to right.
    • Use the manufacturers recommended floor cleaner to remove any marks that you might have produced during installation.
    • When measuring the boards to fit at the end of the row, use a board that is longer than the space. Flip it upside down so that the tongue is now facing towards the installed boards. Make a mark and then transfer the mark to the surface of the board. Using an electric saw carefully cut the board at the mark that you made.
    • Do not hit the hardwood flooring directly.