Engineered hardwood flooring has quickly become the most popular type of wood flooring on the market. This type of flooring is actual real wood that has been applied to a plywood or ply base. Homeowners now typically prefer engineered wood flooring over laminate, vinyl planks, and even some solid woods because of its unsurpassed stability and durability. The plied (applied) base stabilizes the wood, keeping it from growing or buckling over the years. With over 70% of sales going to engineered wood flooring this past year here at Hardwood Bargains, we knew our customers could benefit with a step by step guide to installing this type of quality flooring in their own home.
Step 1: Choose the right wood for your lifestyle
Consider your own family and lifestyle when choosing a hardwood floor. Species like cherry are generally softer words. They’re still durable, but may be more prone to dents. Species like Acacia are going to be harder and can tolerate more roughness. Be sure to consider the traffic that goes through your home and base your search off of that. On average, engineered wood floors are priced at around $3.39/square foot. To estimate how much flooring to buy, calculate the square footage of the room you plan on flooring and add a 7% waste allowance for cuts, trims, etc. Our floor finder can help you find the right floor for your home.
Step 2: Prep work
Prepping your wood and concrete floor is the most crucial step in the installation process. Start by letting your newly purchased flooring acclimate in open boxes in the room you plan on installing the flooring for about 2-3 days. This allows the flooring to match the humidity of the room. The moisture in the wood needs to be within 3 percentage points of other existing wood based material in your home. Avoid storing flooring in basements because it could absorb extra moisture, causing it to shrink when it acclimates to the room you’re installing it in.
Determine what supplies you need. Take inventory of what you have and what you need to buy. Supplies typically needed in the installation of engineered wood floors are a basic saw, miter saw, jig saw, tape measure, straight edge, builders felt or tar paper based off of the square footage of the room, rubber mallet, and flooring stapler or nail gun. All supplies can be found in-store and online at Hardwood Bargains.
Lastly and most importantly, make sure your concrete slab is clean and flat. Sweep away anything off the floor, clean off paint or drywall residue, and use a belt sander to level and smooth the surface. Ensuring that the floor is flat is key. To do this, sweep a 10-foot straightedge across the floor. Make sure there is no deviation of 3/16th of an inch. Mark the floor wherever light shows underneath the edge, then level the floors with a sander or by filling depressions with an acceptable product you can nail to. It is very critical that your floors are level before laying any of the pieces down.
Step 3: The Installation
The first thing you will to do is undercut door jambs casings. This will allow your flooring to slip underneath easily. To do this, place a scrap of your newly purchased flooring in front of the door casing and slowly saw across the casing so the wood planks can slide under. Do this around all doorways in the room. Remember to dust or vacuum immediately after to ensure a clean work surface.
Next, you’ll want to roll out builders felt or tar paper. These products form a moisture barrier that prevents any moisture from potentially contacting the flooring and rotting the underside of the wood. Run it in the same direction as your new flooring, typically, in line with the longest wall. Close the edges of the paper or felt as close together as possible and staple down each edge every 4 or 5 feet. Trim it to be within a ½ inch of the walls. Be sure to tap down any poorly set staples to ensure a flat floor.
Now you’re ready to start laying the planks. Start in a corner, along the longest wall in the room. Most engineered wood floors are tongue and groove, so they piece together very easily. You’ll want to place ½ in spacers against the wall and its adjacent wall to create an expansion gap to prevent any buckling of the wood. These spacers will also make installing baseboards easier. When installing a nail down floor, the tongue side has to face out. The floor gun adheres the plank by driving a staple or nail at a 45 degree angle through the top of the tongue and into the sub-floor. This is called “blind nailing”.
Using a pneumatic flooring stapler or a brad nail gun loaded with 1 ½ in brad nails, nail or staple down each plank every 6 to 8 inches and within 1 inch of the wall. Continue running rows of the planks, varying lengths as you go to create various staggering seams. Remember to check tongue alignment as you go. Most floor installers offset end joints by at least 12 inches from those in the first course. The further apart, the better. When you eventually get to the other side of the room, you will need to use a finisher nailer to lock these boards because the stapler will not fit against the wall.
Lastly, remove all spacers and reinstall the baseboards. Be sure to vacuum the floors and fill all nail holes with wood putty.
Step 4: The Care and Maintenance Of Your Engineered Wood Floors
Keep your engineered hardwood flooring vacuumed or swept on a daily basis. This prevents any dirt or debris from getting in between the planks, or worse, scratching the surface of the wood. Though engineered wood flooring is extremely resistant to moisture, excessive liquid can damage any type of flooring. Avoid wax based cleaners and harsh detergents. Hardwood Bargains offers an array of quality wood cleaners that help protect and maintain the surface of your new wood floors.