Hardwood floor installation demands time and attention

When it comes to do-it -yourself projects, hardwood floor installation is not for the faint of heart. You first must choose the type of wood for your project. The choices include red oak, white oak, ash, maple, beech, birch and pine. Using prefinished materials will save time, and ensure a professional finish. You can go with a parquet design which are smaller pieces of wood arranged in a pattern, typically in a 12 square inch tile. Strip wood floors are boards which come in a variety of widths, typically 1 ½ to 3 inches, or plank floors which are boards that come in widths of 3 to 7 inches.

Proper preparation is essential to the success of hardwood floor installation. Prior to installing the wood floor, the material should be stored in the room it is to be used in, to acclimate it to the rooms humidity conditions. The hardwood floor should be installed on a clean, level, base floor, either a plywood sub floor, old hardwood floor or a concrete slab. The doors and shoe molding must be removed. Roll out a vapor barrier paper, typically a 15 lb. tar paper which will also help to reduce squeaks. Staple the tar paper securely to the sub floor, and mark with a pencil the location of the floor joists.

Lay the first boards perpendicular to the floor joist in order to get a solid anchor. Begin the hardwood floor installation at the longest unobstructed wall and choose a long straight board. Snap a chalk line 3/8” from the wall to allow for expansion. Lay the board along the chalk line and face nail the board at every joist. Be sure to use different length boards in order to stagger the seams. Lay out a few row of boards ahead to visualize how the floor will look. Once you are a few boards out from the wall, you will have enough room to use a nailer, especially designed for hardwood floor installation. The baseboard and shoe molding will cover the gap left for expansion, and provide a nice finish.


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