How to Install Unfinished Hardwood Flooring

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Sep 27, 2017
Step 1: Check the jobsite conditions

On a construction project, wood flooring should be left as one of the last steps. It is important to evaluate the jobsite prior to installation and prior to the flooring arrived at the jobsite so potential problems can be minimized. Installing an unfinished solid wood flooring consists of many stages, including the adaptation to the wood, subfloor/ substrate, and the jobsite itself. Its ambient temperature and relative humidity at the installation's time and all variables could have an impact on a wood floor.

Step 2: Acclimatizing solid wood flooring

The acclimation of wood flooring is crucial for a successful finished result. It is the process in which the wood flooring adjusts its moisture content to be in equilibrium with the surrounding environment in which it is expected to be installed.

You can facilitate the acclimation by breaking the flooring material units into small lots and/or opening the packaging. A common practice is to separate each layer of flooring with spacers (3/4" to 1" sticks) and allows air ventilation on all side of all boards.

It is often recommended to let solid wood material to acclimate for at least 3 days up to no given maximum. For onsite-finished product like unfinished solid hardwood flooring, it will take for about 5 to 7 days for the material to stabilize. It also varies depending on the wood species. While acclimation takes time, it is essential for the wood flooring to reach a moisture content that is in equilibrium with its expected use.

A general rule dictates that a relative humidity ranges from 30 to 50% and a temperature ranges of 60 to 80 Fahrenheit is an ideal environment for wood flooring's best performance (with geographic exceptions).

Step 3: Decide on an appropriate grade level

Solid wood flooring is guaranteed to be successfully installed above grade or on grade level, but below grade installation is not recommended. Below grade level flooring is where soil is present along any perimeter wall. Note that ground should be sloped away from your property for proper drainage.

Step 4: Preparation before solid hardwood flooring

A smooth, level, clean, and structurally sound base should be the foundation for a new solid wood flooring. Depending on the project and property, this base may be an existing wood floor in good condition, a previous floor covering, a new plywood subfloor, or a concrete slab. A concrete slab that is at least 60 days old and has been undergone professional moisture examination can be used as subfloor for your solid wood flooring. It must also be flat and without bumps.

Removing an old flooring can be messy, which can be avoided if you choose to install the solid wood over it. This option actually gains the insulation and soundproofing from the old floor. You might need to fix any irregularities as you leave the existing flooring in place.

It doesn't matter what is underneath your new solid hardwood flooring as the removal of doors and base shoe molding is a must to prepare floors for hardwood boards. Only remove baseboards if there is no shoe molding. Keep in mind how many molding pieces there are so they can be easily replaced once you're done.

Minimize foot traffic on a new floor; otherwise, its quality will be compromised. Proper preparation techniques depend on the type of flooring being installed and the base's conditions underneath it.

Step 5: Subfloor preparation

Similar to the base, the subfloor must also be clean, flat, dry, squeak-free, structurally sound, and free from any bump or fasteners. Clean the subfloor by scraping, sweeping, etc. as necessary. To check if there is any dip or rise, use a long, straight board and a carpenter's level. If bumps are found, sand them down and fill dips with levelling compound.

When it comes to dealing with any raised fasteners, reseat them and screw down any squeaky spots using 1 1/2-inch screws. For every 100 square feet of crawlspace, the crawlspace underneath a raised floor should be no less than 18 inches high and properly vented with 1.5 square feet of vent area so that you can avoid ground moisture humidity from increasing in the room and negatively affecting the flooring. Use 6-mil black polyethylene to cover the entire ground area by putting one sheet after another on top of each other and then taping them together.

Happy reading!

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