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Hardwood flooring can bring warmth and durability to your home, but installing it requires some planning and preparation.
To begin, measure the square footage of the room or area you plan to cover. You can do this by measuring each section individually.
Lay The Planks
When installing engineered or natural hardwood floors, your floor planks must be perfectly matched for an even look. This may involve racking the planks to achieve proper color variation for the desired aesthetic.
The initial step is to lay your planks on the subfloor and space them evenly. You may need to use a pencil and tape to indicate where each plank will go.
When installing wood planks, it’s essential that they be staggered so the seams don’t line up in adjacent rows. Doing this creates an unsightly pattern and may compromise the structural stability of your floor.
Install the first row of flooring using a tongue-and-groove fitting technique, leaving an expansion gap of 1/4 inch between the wall and plank. Face nail this row about half an inch from each edge and 1 to 2 inches from each end. Blind nail the second row, being sure to countersink nails so they sit evenly with the rest of the surface.
Acclimate The Wood
When installing new hardwood flooring, it will need time to adapt. The wood needs time to adjust to the temperature and humidity of your home.
Acclimatization helps avoid excessive expansion, shrinkage, dimensional distortion, or structural damage during installation. It also guarantees that the floor will be installed within the range of acceptable moisture content (MC) for its region of installation.
Before installing wood floors, it’s essential to acclimate them properly. Otherwise, you could end up with cupping or buckling floors that won’t look as great after installation.
Acclimatizing wood requires placing it in an environment with consistent humidity and temperature, so the wood can reach its equilibrium moisture content (EMC).
Prep The Subfloor
Subfloors are essential in any resilient floor covering installation, providing the foundation that the new flooring material will rest upon. If the subfloor is uneven or in poor condition, it can telegraph through to the new materials, creating an unsatisfactory surface with excessive wear in high spots.
No matter the subfloor material – concrete, wooden, or particle board – it should be thoroughly cleaned and dried. Use a long level to check that the surface is level within 3/16 inch for every 10 feet; sand any high spots and fill any low ones with leveling compound.
When installing hardwood, ceramic, or porcelain tile, you’ll want a sturdy subfloor that won’t flex under the weight of the flooring. Carpenters sometimes apply construction adhesive over joists for extra rigidity; depending on your installation, you may even want to double up on them (known as sistering).
Install The Planks
Wood floors are relatively straightforward to install, but it is essential that you plan your installation correctly. The most accurate way to do this is by measuring and calculating the square footage of your home or building.
Measure each room or area individually, taking into account any grade changes, stairs, and hallways present. Then add up all of your measurements together.
Once the square footage has been determined, you can determine which direction looks best in each space. For instance, if your room opens to a narrow hallway, you might want to lay flooring from the long end of the room to the short end.
To guarantee your floors are structurally sound, always lay the floor perpendicular to the joists rather than in between them. Doing this helps prevent separation, sagging, or buckling of the boards.