Blog / How to prepare for a hardwood floor installation

May 27, 2021

Hardwood flooring continues to be one of the most popular, and timeless, flooring options available to homeowners, regardless of personal preferences in other aspects of home decor. Stylish and versatile, wood flooring is easy to clean, repair and maintain through its life span. In addition, hardwoods are naturally durable and can typically withstand everyday wear and tear.

Looking to install hardwoods on your own? It sounds harder than it actually is. Continue reading for a simple outline of steps and tips to follow along the way of your hardwood floor installation.

Prep your space

Before diving in too quickly, take time to prep your space for the hardwood floor installation. The more time you spend prepping, the less time you’ll spend on cleaning up and repairing damage. Trust us, preparation and surface protection are crucial during any home improvement-related construction or remodeling job.

First, clear the area where you’ll be installing your new floors. Carefully move all furniture, personal items and decor into another room. If your belongings are in an open area and still exposed to the area you’ll be working in, cover these items with a drop cloth. Next, build a dust containment system.

Once your dust containment system is in place and sealed off, be sure to cover any other exposed surfaces to prevent dust damage. In addition, seal off your HVAC ducts with protective film to keep the dust from circulating in your space.

Choose your install method and measure space

Once your space is prepped, take time to measure your flooring area to determine square footage and how much new flooring you’ll need. In addition, explore the different types of installation techniques, and choose one that suits your needs.

  • Click and lock: Also known as a floating floor installation, click and lock is common among DIYers. This installation method is simply clicking and locking the new hardwood panels together, no additional security on the flooring materials is needed.
  • Glue down: This option sounds simple, but make sure you do your research! Explore all of the adhesive types to ensure you are choosing the right type of glue. In addition, be sure to leave yourself ample time to prep your subfloor as sanding and leveling are crucial.
  • Nail down: Nailing or stapling down hardwoods is a method of installation traditionally used by professionals flooring installers. We recommend consulting with a professional, prior to using flooring nailer.

Remove current flooring, doors, baseboards, trim

If you are renovating a space, the next step is to remove the current old flooring, baseboards, trim, shoe molding and doors. This will ensure that the wood flooring planks can be installed as closely to the walls as possible, creating a seamless look.

If you have chosen to use the click and lock installation method you may not need to remove your existing flooring! Planks can be installed above plywood subfloors, ceramic tiles, laminate flooring, concrete and linoleum materials. Just make sure your surfaces are completely level prior to installation.


Prepare the subfloor

Preparing the subfloor is a critical step, especially for the glue down or nail down methods. Sand down the surface to remove any materials. Vacuum up the remnants, and then dispose of them. If there are any squeaky spots, securely screw the subfloor into the floor joists.

Once your surface is sanded and level, install a vapor barrier. Red rosin paper, foam and felt are great economical options. If you are looking to reduce noise, explore a noise barrier underlayment.

Hardwood Floor Installation

Finally, it’s time to lay your hardwoods! This step will differ based on your hardwood floor installation method. When installing, it’s best to begin the first row with a long piece of hardwood. Align the board with the drywall, and secure into place. Installing the next row of boards will depend on which installation method you have chosen. When in doubt, call a professional to help!

Keep your wood floors looking new

After you’ve invested in hardwood flooring and hardwood flooring installation, take care of your floors to increase their lifespan! Below are just a few tips to keep your hardwoods looking new.

  • Sweep or vacuum your floors regularly, and use a hardwood floor cleaner regularly
  • Clean up any spills in a timely manner to prevent stains
  • Add felt pads to necessary furniture to avoid scrapes, and use canvas drop cloth when moving heavy furniture

Preparing for and then performing a wood floor installation isn’t just something for professionals floor installers. Follow these tips and you and your family will be able to enjoy the warmth, durability and beauty of solid wood floors for decades.

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