Home Improvement Project – Hardwood Floor Installation

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hardwood floor installation3So you’re looking to spice up your home and have decided that hardwood floor installation is the perfect choice to bring your room life.

This could be a great DIY project for your living room, kitchen, bedroom, or basement, but there are a few things to consider before diving right into this project.

You’ll want to know how to choose the right type of wood for your floors and know some best practices for the hardwood floor installation process.

If you keep these things in mind, you can avoid a few potential headaches and have the home of your dreams! Let’s get started.

Choosing the right type of wood for your home:

There are a few important aspects to remember when choosing between solid or engineered wood for your floors.

The first thing to consider is where the wood will be going in your home. Let’s say you own a two story house with a below ground basement.

The first story, which is even with the outside ground level, is known as grade. Anything below that level (the basement in this example) is considered below grade.

The second story is considered above grade. If you want to install hardwood floors below grade, for example, you would not want to use solid wood as the moisture that seeps up through the ground could damage your new floor over time.

While you shouldn’t have to worry about moisture above grade, installing wood floors at grade gives you the most flexibility.

The second thing to consider is the type of subfloor that the hardwood will sit upon. Most homes have either particle board, concrete, or plywood subfloors, with plywood being the most common.

Plywood also allows the most versatility when choosing a type of hardwood floor to place over it. Particle board, on the other hand, is very similar to plywood, but mostly found in homes built in the 1970’s.

It is a cheaper, less sturdy version of plywood. Therefore, if you are set on getting hardwood floors, you’ll want to remove the particular board first and replace it with plywood to ensure a stronger base for your floor.

With concrete sublfoors, you’re mostly limited to engineered wood.

If the concrete subfloor is on grade, you can use solid wood, but it will need to be glued down, preferably by a professional, and you’ll need completely flat boards which can be difficult to find.

A second option for concrete subfloor is to lay plywood over top, but this route can by costly.

Other considerations to keep in mind include living habits, the style of your home, color scheme, and budget. If you have kids and pets, it may be best to consider a more durable type of wood as opposed to something that simply looks fashionable.

You wouldn’t want to install a softer wood that will look like it has been through a war after a couple years of use. When considering the style of your home, traditional style homes typically look better with hickory wood while modern homes would be better suited to maple or oak.

Style also ties in nicely with the color scheme which really just depends on your own personal preferences. Lastly, your budget may help you determine whether to get solid or engineered wood.

Solid wood is a little more expensive than engineered wood per board. So even if your room meets all of the requirements for a solid hardwood floor, you may want to stick with engineered to stay within budget.

Installation Steps:

First things first, you’ll need to remove the old flooring down to the subfloor, and get rid of any extra nails that may be sticking out of that subflooring.

Once this is done, you’ll want to snap a chalk line or a small, scrap piece of wood up against the longest and straightest wall in the room.

This scrap board, or spacer, should be the length of one of the floorboards and measure about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick to allow room for the floorboards to expand once they’re installed.

You’ll then want to start with the longest and straightest boards you have. Nail these into the floor as straight as possible.

This will prevent your new floor from looking slanted as you go across the room. Next, lay the remaining boards out across the subfloor.

This will give you a chance to properly rack the boards, find any boards which might have small defects, and place those boards in less noticeable areas along the other walls.

When racking the boards, it’s best to line up each board end about 4-6 inches from the one beside it. This will give the floor a nice, staggered look. Make any extra necessary cuts at this time to make sure the floor boards line up properly.

Once the boards are racked and straight, it’s time to nail them to the subfloor. Using a floor nail gun is recommended here. The first few boards along the wall may be tricky to reach with a floor nail gun.

The best option is to face-nail (nail straight into the board, perpendicular to the floor) the first few boards until you get enough room to angle nail the remaining boards.

Angling the nails will provide a more secure joint. Your nails should be about 8 inches apart from one another.

Hardwood floor installation is not an exact science, so measure your work again and again as you go to make sure everything is remaining nice and straight.

This will keep you from running into problems at the end of the room. Once all the boards are nailed to the floor, your last step is to install the trim, and you’re finished!

And there you have it! Hopefully your hardwood floor installation runs smoothly and brings your home that extra perk you’ve always wanted.

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