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5 Things to Do When Installing Hardwood Floors

When it comes to renovating their home, some home homeowners are used to tackling DIY projects rather than leaving things to the pros. Installing hardwood floors is often one of those projects. Of course, any DIY project can be a successful one – provided that you know exactly what you need to do.

After all, no one wants to deal with any buckling and warping of hardwood floors, but this can easily happen if they aren’t properly installed. In order to ensure the installation process goes smoothly and you end up with elegant, durable, and beautiful flooring that will boost your home’s value, here are five things to do when installing hardwood floors.

Make sure that the area is suitable for hardwood flooring

While it’s true that hardwood floors help beautify any space, they aren’t exactly the ideal option for every part of the house. The amount of moisture will play a vital role in helping you decide whether the area is suitable for installing hardwood floors.

For rooms with excess moisture such as basements and rooms below grade, you are better off installing other types of flooring. If the climate you live in is generally high in humidity levels, your best bet would be engineered flooring. alternatively, you can opt for wood such as teak, which responds minimally to moisture.

Check if the subfloor is clean and dry

Floor preparation is half the task. First off – and this may sound like a no-brainer – you need to make sure that the subfloor you’re planning on installing over is dry. Otherwise, you’re running the risk of the flooring expanding due to moisture transferring from subfloors. 

Secondly, you want to make sure that the area is clean. The last thing you want is for the flooring boards not to fit properly as you try to install them. This often happens when there’s debris or dirt left, so clean everything before starting the project.

Ensure the subfloor is flat and structurally sound

A good subfloor is vital to installing hardwood floors properly and will largely determine their structural integrity. Without a solid foundation, it is impossible to expect this type of flooring to last long. Furthermore, a solid foundation will ensure there are no squeaks, buckling, or warping. This is why it is so important to ensure the subfloor is flat and structurally sound.

Prior to starting hardwood floor installation in your home, be sure to test the area. Walk around to check for any squeaks and identify any areas that need repairing. There may also be joists that need to be fixed. Other than ensuring structural soundness, you also want a subfloor that’s flat. This is vital so that the floorboards could fit together properly, and the flooring could fit tightly to the subfloor.

Be careful of what you install hardwood flooring over

One of the most common mistakes homeowners make when installing hardwood flooring is installing it over the wrong surface. For starters, you don’t want to install it over the carpet. This is especially true if the subfloor is moldy, cracked, sloped, or damaged. Generally speaking, concrete and wood make for ideal subfloors for hardwood flooring.

That being said, even experienced installers often make the mistake of installing hardwood flooring over concrete that hasn’t dried yet, which is often the case when it comes to new construction. It’s important to give wet concrete time to cure, and you may even want to consider using a moisture barrier as well. 

Remember to leave the expansion room

Last but not least, another important tip to remember when fitting hardwood flooring is to leave the expansion room. Also referred to as the expansion gap, this is the space that’s left for the wooden flooring to naturally contract and expand. Surroundings change, and the wooden flooring must react to these changes as they happen. It needs room to move and expand as it will inevitably absorb subfloor and air humidity.

On the other hand, failing to plan for an expansion room comes with the risk of ending up with raised and damaged flooring, since the floor has nowhere to go but up. Both engineered and solid wood floors need expansion room, although the former are better equipped to withstand moisture.

Wrapping up

There are many reasons why homeowners choose hardwood floors over other flooring options. Long-lasting and beautiful, they’re a worthwhile investment, but installing them improperly can be a costly mistake. Stick with the tips above before undertaking such a project, and you’ll have no trouble ensuring elegant, beautiful flooring for generations to come.

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