Installing Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are the best, ask anyone.  They offer warmth in elegant, high-end interiors, and durability in highly-trafficked utility spaces. They are extremely low-maintenance; cleaning is a breeze – vacuum, mop and keep dry – that’s it!  With no fibers, grout lines, or embossing that can trap pollen, dust, or animal dander, allergy-sufferers can breathe easy!  These floors are great for maintaining healthy indoor air quality.  And, hardwood floors are a good investment. They are often a strong resale argument, exceeding the initial installation cost of the floors.

engineered-hardwoodConvinced?  Well, if you have a few tools begging to be used, and your knees are arthritis-free, it’s a great do-it-yourself project. But in case your tax return doesn’t quite cover the cost of a roomful of zebra wood, consider laminate or engineered flooring. Good quality engineered hardwood flooring has the same resale value as 3/4 inch solid wood flooring, if you ever decide to sell your home. There are just as many colors, styles, stains available, and there is actually more resistance to higher moisture levels than solid wood flooring, which makes them ideal in damp basements or in areas of higher relative humidity levels.

To get started, there are a few tools you will need to get the job done:

  • rubber mallet
  • staple gun
  • miter saw
  • finish nailer
  • pneumatic stapler
  • air compressor
  • table saw or circular saw
  • awl

Your materials will include:

  • tar paper
  • baseboard molding
  • wooden thresholds
  • and, your desired engineered wood flooring

Begin this project with some tidying-up.  Clean the floor to be covered, or subfloor, of any debris. Remove any protruding nails or staples that may have been left behind from the previous floor. Vacuum, sweep and wash the floor to remove any dust, and give the floor a chance to dry thoroughly before continuing with the installation.

laying-tar-paperNext, roll out the sheets of tar paper over the clean subfloor, and use a staple gun to affix the paper to the floor. Tar paper forms a moisture barrier which will prevent any condensation from the floors below, and protect the underside of the flooring from rot.

Hardwood floors look best when the “natural” color variations are consistently distributed across the room.  One box of engineered floor planks may look exactly the same, but the next box might have some tonal differences from the first. You don’t want to look like an amateur, so we recommend opening all the boxes of planks, and intermix the planks to ensure a better blend of color as you install.
laying-hardwoodYou are ready to start laying the planks.  Start by running one row along the longest wall of the room. The floor planks are tongue-and-groove style, so they should slide right together. Manufacturers recommend that you install the planks with the tongue side against the wall and the groove side facing into the room. Use a pneumatic stapler to drive staples through the groove at a 45-degree angle. Staple every 6 to 8 inches. If you are having trouble getting the planks to slide together easily, use a rubber mallet to coerce them into place.  Very therapeutic.

awlContinue laying rows of flooring, using different length planks to create staggered seams. When you get to the other side of the room, you will eventually hit the wall.  Literally.  You may have trouble fitting the flooring stapler into the last row or two of flooring because a wall will be in your way.  When this happens, switch to a finish nailer, and nail directly through the face of these boards every 12 to 18 inches.  That way, you will keep the nail holes to a minimum.  And, in case you were wondering when you’d get to use that awl, now’s the time.  Nail heads not recessed into the wood floor are going to cause problems for anyone who steps on them in bare feet.  Use the awl and a hammer to bury the nail heads below the surface of the floor.

You may not be able to walk well for a couple of hours, but the hard work will certainly pay off.  When other floors will begin to look tired and worn, your hardwood floors will still look beautiful. Also keep in mind that unlike carpeting and vinyl, hardwood floors can be refinished rather than replaced. If you’re sold on the idea of hardwood flooring, but not the work required to install it, call HandiCo!  They have the experience, tools, and knee pads to see the job through.Finally, you can hide the space where the floor meets the wall with a baseboard. Nail the baseboard to the bottom of the wall with a finish nailer. Paint or stain the baseboard before it is installed, or plan to spend more time on your knees. Use your miter saw to cut thresholds to the length of your doorway openings. Install them by simply laying them in their correct location and finish nailing them to the subfloor. As with the floor planks, use an awl to tap the nail heads down so they sit below the surface of the threshold.

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