What the Pros Want You to Know Before Installing Hardwood Flooring
Even if your DIY experience level is advanced, when it comes to installing hardwood flooring, this is one project where it’s best to call in the pros. A seasoned professional who installs hardwood flooring for a living knows the idiosyncrasies of different wood species and how to minimize errors, mess and waste. They also have the tools and expertise to produce a beautiful, efficient and correct installation.
That doesn’t mean you can’t roll up your sleeves and be part of the project. In fact, it’s important for you to understand the process of installing hardwood flooring. Being prepared and knowledgeable puts you in a better position to communicate your expectations to your installer.
Your flooring retailer will coordinate the installation process for you and that includes project costs, materials ordering and delivery, estimated completion time and scheduling the installation. They will also guide you on what to expect during the installation. That said, here are practices common to installing hardwood flooring.
What to expect when installing hardwood flooring
Before work begins – Remove all furnishings, draperies and wall hangings from the room. Some installers will do this for an additional fee. Same goes for the removal of old flooring, which needs to be done at least one day prior to arrival of your hardwood to allow for cleanup and floor preparation.
Subfloors/underlayment – Existing subfloors must be clean, dry and flat and may require additional preparation to get to this condition. The stability of your subfloor is a vital component to successfully installing hardwood flooring. You may find out that a new subfloor is necessary. It’s not uncommon, too, to require an underlayment to level, cushion or dampen noise, or to protect your new hardwood floor from moisture.
Acclimation – All hardwood products must acclimate to their new environment for several days, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, so that the natural wood material can expand or contract as the room’s humidity and temperature dictate. Your installer will open all the flooring cartons to allow acclimation to take place.
Installation techniques –There are several commonly used techniques for installing hardwood flooring: nail-down, staple-down, glue-down and glueless or “floating” installation. Your installer will use the installation technique recommended by the wood manufacturer as specified in the installation instructions that come with your flooring.
Blending boards – Boards should be installed from several cartons at the same time to ensure an even blending of color and shade. Your installer will likely preselect and set aside boards that blend best with trims and moldings for a seamless look. Remember, however, that no two floor boards will be identical and that variations in appearance are completely normal.
Dust/odors – When installing hardwood flooring that’s unfinished (or site finished), be prepared for some noise and disruption during the sanding and finishing part. Dust containment systems can minimize airborne debris, but no system is 100% effective. You may want to cover any items that you want to keep dust-free. If you or family members are sensitive to dust or odors, ask your installer about providing good ventilation during this step.
It doesn’t take a lot of research to learn about installing hardwood flooring and a little knowledge goes a long way in ensuring the best installation possible. So, before you start planning an open house to show off your beautiful new hardwood floor, take some time to learn about installation.
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