A hardwood floor adds value and a certain luster to any home. Of course, like anything that adds to a home, it comes with an upfront cost.
Since hardwood flooring installation costs can be as much as double the cost of materials per square foot, many homeowners look to perform the installation themselves.
If you want to go it alone, be prepared to sink some time into the project and follow these tips to get your floor in with less hassle.
Hardwood Flooring Installation
The difficulty of a hardwood floor install depends largely on the format of the materials. The tree species rarely makes a difference to the steps taken though it may affect the types of fasteners used in nailing and gluing, so check that information carefully.
For snap-together types of flooring, you will need to be careful with the first and last rows. When nailing and gluing boards, you’ll find the same caution is warranted but in a slightly different way.
1. Acclimate Your Wood
Depending on where you ordered the wooden flooring, where it was stored, and how long it was in transit it may swell or contract. To make the flooring fit neatly, you want the wood to be the shape and size it will be when set in place.
To this end, it’s best to unpack your materials and let them sit for a few days along the floor of the room you’re working on or one with similar temperatures.
It takes about a week to normalize, so it’s best to shop local to shorten the time. Of course, the tree species chosen will also adjust this timeline. For middle temperatures in the easter part of North America check out the maple hardwood collection.
2. Know the Subfloor
While you wait for the wood to acclimate, examine the subfloor. In particular, you want to confirm its level and that it doesn’t shift much in height across the room.
You can expect to see some variation, nothing is perfectly level. Changes should be limited to less than three sixteenth of an inch for any given six-foot area.
It is fine if from one wall to another it dips more than that, a gradual slope, while a problem for rolling things, won’t leave gaps or mar the floor.
Apply layers of plywood or a thick layer of epoxy to shore up any dips to ensure a more level floor for a better install.
3. A Straight Start
Every mistake in an install cascades forward. This means that the early part of the install needs to be tight and straight.
The final rows can (and often do) get a little loose in their lines.
Always start on an exterior wall side. These walls are the least straight, so you will measure and plan your line then fill between the straight row and the wall. This will ensure a better overall appearance and is one of the most fundamental techniques in how to install hardwood flooring.
Find Your Dream
Of course, no matter how straightforward hardwood flooring installation seems, it still takes time. Expect a few hours per room with help, more if going it solo.
Bonus tip: don’t buy the tools when you can rent or borrow. Few of the tools needed are things you will find repeated usage for.
Come back here for more ideas on how to shape your home and your dream life.