Installing a new Hardwood Floor? Don’t Do It Until You Read This…

November 5, 2021

Are you in the process of refurbishing your home? Are you looking for the best and most efficient way to choose and install your new hardwood floor?

Renovating your lodgings with new hardwood flooring can be both an exciting and frustrating time. The exhilaration of novelty and change can add a new sense of vitality to your days, but the discouragement that can come from over budgeting, unexpected setbacks, and losing the orderliness of your home can be very frustrating.

However, this process can be smoothed out by having a systematic approach. Everything from doing the research to picking the right flooring for your home to determining the installation procedure should all be thought out beforehand. And in this article, we will give you that step-by-step process to ensure your home renovation goes off without a hitch.

Picking Your Hardwood Floor

1. Choose Engineered Flooring

Even though solid hardwood flooring is available, many companies today are opting for the engineered flooring alternative. These particular planks have a top coating of hardwood that’s connected together by additional coatings produced to stop the floor from moving during the patterns of expansion and contraction. Woods move in three different directions: These are longitudinal, radical, and tangential movements. The unique selling point of engineered flooring is it creates conflicting forces inside of the plank that constrict the intuitive movement of the wood.

For areas with concrete subfloors (basements, apartments, etc), engineered flooring has many installation benefits. This compared to solid hardwood, which has the potential to increase the floor height and obstruct doors.

However, it’s good to practice due diligence and choose wisely. Some engineering floor planks have top coatings that are so thin that it can’t be resurfaced or restored in future renovations. Superior and higher quality versions will generally have thicker coatings.

2. Decide on Either Site Finish or Prefinish

Hardwood boards can be bought with an untreated surface that gets processed by an expert after they have been installed. This would be referred to as Site Finish. Furthermore, they can also be bought prefinished, which means they arrive with the topcoat already administered. The main benefit of prefinished wood is that there are no surprises -- you know exactly what you’re getting. Additionally, prefinished flooring is also easier and quicker when it comes to the installation process. This is due to the fact that you’re not required to add any sealer.
On the other hand, site finishing permits a certain level of personalization that’s very desirable to designers and homeowners alike. When it’s all said and done, the end result will be much more flush and polished because prefinished needs to be sanded down once it’s been installed.

3. Decide on the Finish

There’s a large gamut of products to choose from for your finishing. Generally speaking, the majority of finishes will land in one of two divisions: polyurethane or oil.

Oil can puncture the plank and has a very tactile look and feel. However, it’s not as impenetrable to damages or blemishes as polyurethane, which produces a tough coat on the face of the plank that’s generally more durable. Oil finishes are more vulnerable and tend to get dinged up and scratched easily. However, the blemishes that do appear on their surfaces are more easily hidden.

Additionally, it’s also a simple fix to refurbish them whenever a mark or abrasion occurs. The same can’t be said for polyurethane. If it gets noticeably marked up, your only option to restore it is to replace the entire board or recoat that section of the flooring.

Next variable to consider is maintenance. With an oil finish, maintenance is easier and quicker, however, upkeep is required more frequently. With polyurethane, you don’t need to do a whole lot of maintenance, but when it does come time to do it, a lot more work will be waiting for you.

4. Think of the Variation of Woods

Oak is the predominant type of wood in North America. Its durability and resilience make it a smart choice for renovations. Additionally, its popularity has made it readily available all over, which means that the price tag is very budget friendly.

Another in-demand option is walnut. It retains a certain depth to its color that makes it perfect for rooms with a more dim and dingy decor. Additionally, other accessible and popular North American hardwoods are ash, maple, cherry, and hickory.

5. Decide on the Pattern of Grain

Cutting logs happens in three ways: rift-sawn, quarter-sawn, and plain-sawn. Consequently, a different grain pattern will result from each method of cutting. Rift-sawn planks will have an elongated, sequential, unwavering grain pattern. Quarter-sawn planks share similarities with rift, but retain additive jagged features. And these traits can be either desirable or unfavorable based on personal preference. And last but not least, plain-sawn cutting creates wood grain of a more conventional style, producing billowing patterns referred to as cathedrals.

Generally, most hardwood is bought in the plain-sawn style. However, there are also mixtures of quarter and rift-sawn blended. At the end of the day, no method is “better than the other”, it’s all predicated on what you want as well as how it is installed.

6. Choose the Width of the Board

Today, many people are expanding the width of their boards. Traditionally, boards would be installed at two or three inches in width. However, that has now changed to four to six inches in width for reasons that pertain to luxury and uniqueness. Many often feel that wider planks offer a sense of splendor and richness. This has led to the expanded dimensions now becoming the standard width size.

Furthermore, wider boards means a reduction in seams. But it’s worth noting that this change in width size may lead to seams that are more pronounced as the wood goes through its expansion and contraction cycles.

Installing Hardwood Floor: A Step-By-Step Guide

Necessities: Equipment and Materials

The tools, equipment, and materials required will vary based on the type of hardwood you’re installing. So be sure to review the instructions in order to know what you’ll need.

1. Decide on the Method of Installation

Begin by clarifying the proper installment process for the particular flooring you’ve chosen. Also, take into consideration that the procedure for installment will be different based on the thickness, the width, as well as the build of the hardwood. Hardwood is usually affixed to its proper position by being nailed to the subfloor. Conversely, engineered hardwood can be glued in place as a floating floor based on the type of flooring you’ve decided on.

Be wary of these installations, they can cause a lot of difficulty even amongst experienced DIYers. This kind of refurbishment is a big investment in your home, so it’s essential that it’s done properly. If you’re confused, call in an expert.

2. Give Floors Time to Adjust

Many don’t know that new flooring needs time to adjust to a new room. It must be acclimated to the atmosphere conditions of the space. To allow this acclimation process to take place, start by bringing the sealed planks to the area in which they are allocated to be installed. Let them sit for a few days with the packaging open exposing the boards to the air temperature of the room. This process is not designated for engineering wood, more so for the hardwood flooring.

Additionally, maintaining your home’s humidity levels at around 35% to 55% is ideal for the planks.

3. Prep Your Area

Be sure that you read through the instructions before getting started, you want to be absolutely clear on how you should handle your product. It can also be advantageous to watch YouTube videos or read a few blog posts on the topic if you happen to be confused. Make sure your floor is clean, clear, and dry, and that you have the proper tools by your side.

If there’s an existing floor you’re installing over, ensure the doors can still open and close freely. The majority of hardwood floors can be used over current floors as long as you have the right bonding (always adhere to the producer’s recommendations and suggestions).

Moreover, if you do happen to be placing your hardwood floors over other tiles, marble, etc, be especially diligent if the faces of the boards carry asbestos or are layered in lead paint of finishing.

You will then want to calculate the dimensions of your space of installment. Tack on 5% for the finished footage for cutting contingencies. Use snapchalk to mark the measurements, be sure to take off any trim that may be in the way. But do this delicately because you’ll want to reuse it, but if you damage it during removal, then that won’t be an option.

4. Insert Flooring

Roll out the underlayment, then place the floor pieces side by side against the longest wall. Start on the left and then slowly work your way to the right while having the tongue side directed to you. Take advantage of spacers, nestle them in between the planks and walls as this will permit enlargement. And always remember, adhere to the instructions from the manufacturer.

Have a pneumatic nail gun? Great. Drill a few test holes, and then nail a couple of rows to make enough room for the gun.

5. Finishing Touches

This is one of the most important portions. This section of the process allows for those final polishes to be made, and that’s where the quality of the installment will become apparent. You might have to trim some planks longitudinally for the final row. Upon completing the process, watch for curves and outlines that may need to be trimmed as stated by the manufacturer’s specifications. Once the rows have been properly placed in their positions, you can dispense with the spacers and add the moldings and trim.

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