Hardwood Floor Installation

hardwood floor Before installing hardwood floor there are a few things which must be taken into account in order to pro-long the life-span of your hardwood floor. It helps to reduce stress and damage to the newly installed floorings by prepping the hardwood floor used as well as the job site for installation of hardwood floors.

Moisture content of oak and other wood flooring materials milled from lumber which has been kiln-dried should be maintained. The wood should not be transported, loaded or unloaded on rainy, snowy, or excessively humid days and should be stored in a dry, weather proof and well-ventilated building. The site where the flooring is to be installed must be dry. The interior climate conditions (temperature & humidity) should be at or very near those which will be maintained during normal occupancy and should begin at least five days prior to the delivery of flooring material. The flooring material should be distributed into the rooms where it will be installed and allow to acclimate for four – five days. 

If hardwood flooring is to be installed directly over the home heating plant or main duct or piping trunk lines, these lines or the sub-flooring should be insulated to prevent low level infra red heat from drying out the wood flooring. Wood flooring can be installed on concrete floors that are on or above grade level. Installations below grade (like in basements) are not recommended. The concrete MUST be dry and must have a vapor barrier installed over them prior to the hardwood floor installation. As hardwood flooring is almost never finished on its bottom side, moisture can enter the wood from below and cause problems. Hardwood flooring must be installed on solid, approved sub-flooring materials. Non-veneered panel sub-flooring products (OSB, flakeboard, chipboard, etc.) are sometimes not recommended for use below hardwood floor installations. Always check with the hardwood floor supplier or installer prior to the construction of sub-floor to find out what suits best. 

Beginning Installation

Flooring material should be stacked indoors in the rooms it is meant to be installed in for 4-5 days to acclimatize to the home\’s humidity level. Flooring should be installed perpendicular to the floor joists. Mark the positions of the floor joists along a wall for reference, and cover the sub-floor with a layer of 15-pound asphalt felt to provide some moisture protection and minimize squeaks. Mark the centerline of the room. If the room is seriously out of square, position the tongue of the first row parallel to the centerline and rip the groove side at an angle parallel to the wall. Lay out several rows of boards, in staggered pattern so no end joint is closer than 6 inches to an end joint in the next row. Cut pieces (at least 8 inches long) to fit at the end of each row; allow a 1/2-inch gap at the wall. Use a radial arm saw or power miter saw to cut the boards. When blind-nailing with a hammer and finishing nails, leave each nail-head projecting up about 1/8 inch, then place a nail set sideways over it along the upper edge of the tongue and drive the nail home by tapping the nail set with your hammer. Finally, use the tip of the nail set to recess the nail\’s head flush with the wood.

1. Tack down (with staple gun) a layer of 15-pound asphalt felt, with 3 inch overlap at the edge. Measure the room\’s width at two or more points to establish an accurate centerline, and draw a chalk  line parallel to starting wall. Draw another chalk line that indicates start point about 1/2 inch away from the starting wall exactly parallel to your centerline. This 1/2-inch gap between the flooring and the wall will allow for expansion.

    2. Drill pilot holes for 1 1/2-inch finishing nails on starting planks by the wall (these holes will be covered by base shoe/base board molding), then face-nail the first row through the plywood sub-flooring to the floor joists or sleepers. Recess the nails below the surface. Blind-nail this and the next two rows by hand. At every end and every 10 inches along the lengths of the first two rows, drill pilot holes at a 45-to-50-degree angle through the tongues, centered on each joist or sleeper and fasten with 1 1/2-inch finishing nails. Use a nail set to finish driving each nail.

    3. Move a short piece of flooring along the edge of the 2nd and thereafter flooring and give it a sharp rap with a mallet to tighten the new row against the previous row before nailing. End joints in two adjacent rows should not be closer than 6 inches and should not line up over a joint in the sub-floor. 

    Tip : If a wide-plank floor is being installed, manufacturers recommend leaving a crack the width of a putty-knife blade between planks for expansion.

    4. Use a flooring nailer once you\’ve installed the first three rows. Slip it onto the board\’s tongue and, using a heavy rubber mallet, strike the plunger to drive 2-inch nails or staples through the tongue into each joist and into the sub-floor midway between joists. Be very careful to avoid scratching or otherwise damaging the flooring.

    5. On the final row, use a block and a pry bar to wedge the last boards tightly into position. Repeat as in the first plank with drill holes and face-nail boards where base shoe or baseboard molding will cover. Set the nail-heads below the surface using a hammer and nail set.

    6. If a change of level to a hallway or adjoining room is caused by the new floor, a reducer strip that is milled with a rounded or beveled top, fits onto the tongue of an adjacent board or the ends of perpendicular boards, should be installed for a smooth transition. It can be butted against the edges or ends of grooves. Face-nail the reducer strip at the edge of the floor, set the nail-heads below the surface, and fill with wood putty. 

    7. Re-install the base shoe or baseboard molding.

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