Wood Floor Installation

Before the wood floor installation, and specially if you are tackling an extensive remodel, by this time you should have your floor plans completed.

Also, all the rough plumbing and rough electrical are in place. Any modifications to the wall structure are completed. The drywall is hung and sealed and all the many details are completed.

In short, we are ready to start installing the new material to make sure YOUR kitchen or any other room in your home is efficient and EXACTLY what YOU want.

So let’s get to the floor!

For this example, let’s say we are going to use pre-finished wood planks and put them down in the kitchen. For the sake of keeping everything level, I like to cover the entire floor.

IF you have a large kitchen, for the sake of economy, you can mark out areas under the cabinets and use something else beside the expensive pre-finished wood planks for that space.

Just make sure the thickness is exactly the same as the wood planks and the under layment together. The under layment is the material (felt or tar paper) between the sub-floor and the pre-finished wood planks. You can see the tar paper (the under layment) in the picture to the right showing installing wood floors.

Pre-finished solid wood used in a wood floor installation usually 0.747 to 0.750 inches thick. The filler you use can be any material. I just measured some different materials in my garage and found plywood at 0.735 in to 0.755 in. Fifteen or twenty thousands may not seem like much, but the result can be a base cabinet that leans to the rear by several degrees.

The countertops should be level. Make sure that the cabinets are level before the final attachment of the countertop. You can always add shims between the cabinets and countertops to make the countertop level. Remember, a small error here can contribute to major problems later.

Place the new flooring, while still in boxes, in the new room to acclimate it to the new environment for several days before installation.

If you are using material from the same manufacturer, but with several lot numbers (not a good idea but happens on large jobs), mix the material with all the other boxes. This will ensure that the color variations do not stand out but give the floor character.

Always use the same manufacturer’s products for your entire wood floor installation. There might be differences in widths or how the boards were machined. There is no industry standard on height or depth for the tongues or grooves. After the under layment is down, install the wood planks starting at the side of the room with the grove, not the tongue.

Do not nail anything until you have determined the room is square. Make sure to lay out the planks in such a way that the ends are staggered and not even with each other.

After you are satisfied they fit, start nailing. Place them tightly together. There are special installation tools to install wood flooring. You might want to consider working with a flooring contractor as they have these special tools.

An option for your consideration for your wood floor installation is for you to do some of the work. For instance, if the contactor does the complete job which consists of taking up the old floor, hauling the old floor off, putting the new flooring down and finish the molding, the extra work will add to your cost.

Usually it is cheaper for you to take the old flooring up, haul it off and put the under layment down. Have the floor installer install the wood planks. Then you finish the trim.

My floor installer loves this arrangement as he is in and out quickly. Besides he really does not want to haul scrap or spend the time working on the trim pieces.

If you can, make sure you purchase the transition pieces and shoe molding at the same time you purchase the planks. This way all the material finish should be the same for your wood floor installation.

Last thing to remember is, no shoe molding is installed until the room is almost finished.

The big box store has rolls of rosin paper. This is a heavy duty paper that you can place on the floor to protect it while you work in the room. Put it down everywhere but under the cabinets to protect the floor. Take it up when you are complete. Tape all edges as you do not want dust under the paper grinding its way into that new floor.

JUST AN EXTRA THOUGHT: Never use particle board in the kitchen or bathroom! I have experienced so many problems with this material in flooring. If it gets wet and stays wet, it swells up and literally disintegrates.

Now that your wood floor installation is finished it’s time to move on and install the cabinets.

Dave Altman

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