How to install hardwood floors

How to install hardwood floors

How to install hardwood floors

A hardwood floor undoubtedly adds charm, character and value to a home. Beautiful and hard-wearing, they almost never need to be replaced. With a huge variety of woods, finishes and designs, hardwood floors offer an endless choice of possibilities to suit any type of home.

Sub floor preparation

• All sub floors must be clean, level, absolutely flat and dry. Scrape and smooth any debris off the surface, sand high areas or joints and fill low areas and cracks with the proper compounds. • Prepare all doorways and walls — undercut all door casings and remove all moldings. • Concrete sub-floors must be completely cured and dried (8-12 weeks old) with minimum surface temperature of 60ºF (15ºC) and maximum moisture content of 2% dry-weight basis. The ideal relative humidity in the room should be 55%. • Wood sub floors need to be well secured with counter sunk screws on ring shank nails. It should not exceed 14% moisture prior to installation.

Floating Installation

Spread and unroll the required polyethylene cushioning underlayment parallel to the longest wall (they can be trimmed after the installation has been completed). Allow sufficient overlap on all joints with the next sheets; use double adhesive tape to fix the joints. Complete until the whole surface is covered with the underlayment. Pick the first floorboard and align it with the closest wall, groove side facing the wall. The installation should begin from the right corner of the room.

Use ½” (12mm) temporary spacing-wedges to create the necessary gaps from the walls. Pick the second board, apply 1/8” (3mm) glue bead at the inner topside of the groove at the board end, and start jointing the board in the row. Never apply glue onto the tongue. Continue the same steps until the first row is competed.

Use a specially designed crowbar to push all the joints tight at the same time. Use this crowbar to tighten joints from the sides and use clamps whenever necessary to ensure tight and square joints. Never fail to wipe off any excess glue immediately. Repeat all processes and install the rest of the floor.

Allow the finished floor to be free from load and traffic for at least 8 hours before all temporary spacing wedges are removed. Install all the skirtings/moldings the next day, making sure that they are fixed onto the adjacent wall only, and not directly fixed onto the floor.

Nail Down Installation

This method of flooring installation gives some advantages over other methods such as speed, reduced labor materials and more immediate “use” of the floor. However, the process is more difficult and some professional assistance may be required.

Lay the first floorboard as for floating floorboards. Once the floorboard is aligned perfectly, face nail the board with the nail perpendicular to the surface. Use 1 – 1.5” finishing nails depending on the thickness of the floorboards installed. Continue the same step until the first row is completed.

Start the second row in the same manner. From the second row on, nailing is done on the tongue side only. Continue to install all the remaining rows.

The final row of flooring is usually narrow and it will likely be necessary to rip floorboards lengthwise to fill in the row. Measure the remaining space and cut the boards accordingly, ensuring a ½” (12mm) gap at all sides. Nail down this last row in the same manner as the nailing of the first row, and complete the installation. Once the nail down work is completed, install all the skirting and moldings. Make sure that all skirtings/moldings are fixed onto the adjacent wall only, NOT directly to the floor.

Glue Down Installation

This method of installation requires fans to create airflow and to help speed up the drying time of the adhesives. This type of installation does not need any cushioning underlayment.

Determine the working area to begin the installation in and the longest wall in the room with access. Make a test and dry lay floorboards beforehand, if necessary. A starting block is recommended to help the initial floorboard placement. Nail the starting block down firmly along the starting line, within the working area, to help hold the first row of the installed floorboards firmly in place.

The adhesive should be used sparingly over an area that can be laid with flooring within 3 hours. Pick the first floorboard and align it with the starting line (starting block) along the groove’s edge. The installation should ideally start from the right side. Lay the first floorboard and ensure that there is a 12mm (1/2”) gap from the adjacent wall. Pick the second board, apply 1/8” (3mm) glue bead on the inner topside of the groove at the board end and start jointing the board in the row. Never apply glue on the tongue. Continue the same steps with the next floorboard and complete the first row. Use a specially designed crow bar to pull the last board into place. Push joints tight and drive spacing wedges in. Clean any excess glue from the joints immediately.

Continue laying each row as described above. Note that unlike the floating installation method, longitudinal tongue and groove gluing (along the edge of each row) is not compulsory with this glue down method.

To prevent movement, tape flooring down every 3 completed rows across the face together using temporary–adhesive masking tape.

Every 2-3 hours and upon completion, roll the floorboard surface with a 100-150 lb (50-70 kg) roller to ensure all boards are flat and in perfect contact with the adhesive. Wrap the roller with cloth or foam pad to avoid scratches or dents on the floor surface.

Allow the finished floor to be free from load and heavy foot traffic for at least 24 hours after completion. The next day, remove all temporary spacing wedges and install all of the skirting/moldings, making sure that they are fixed onto the adjacent wall only, not the floor.

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