Installing Engineered Wood Flooring

  • 01 of 04

    Installation Options with Engineered Wood Flooring

    Engineered Wood Flooring
    Engineered wood flooring is made up of multiple layers or plies for additional dimensional stability. Home-Cost.com 2006

    Engineered wood flooring is a beautiful, durable flooring product that offers a few different installation options. Some products are designed for glue-down application, as is often used when installing flooring over a concrete slab. Other products are well-suited for securing to a wood subfloor with nails or staples, called a nail-down installation. But for do-it-yourselfers, the most popular method is the floating-floor installation, which uses no glue or nails. With this installation method, the engineered wood planks are joined together with interlocking joints, creating a single, continuous layer that "floats" over the subfloor.

    Each installation method comes with specific considerations and installation steps. 

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  • 02 of 04

    Installing Engineered Wood Flooring Over Concrete

    It is important to test moisture vapor transmission and alkalinity of a concrete slab before installing flooring. www.vaporgauge.com

    In some cases, engineered wood flooring can be installed directly over concrete and even in below-grade applications. This is something that solid wood floors typically cannot do. However, before installation is attempted over a concrete floor or a basement slab, it is important to conduct a vapor transmission test to determine whether the level of concrete slab vapor emissions (hydrostatic pressure) is acceptable.

    Excessive moisture in a concrete slab can be devastating to an engineered wood floor and can cause the plies to separate. Moisture emissions through the slab typically must not exceed 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet in 24 hours. You can test a slab yourself using a calcium chloride vapor transmission test kit sold by flooring suppliers.

    A new development that makes engineered wood flooring and laminate plank flooring easier to install over concrete is a system of raised subfloor tiles. This system effectively lifts the flooring slightly above the slab, creating a space for air circulation beneath the flooring and reducing the chances of moisture damage. Raised subfloor panels can also be used on standard floors where the condition of the subfloor is less than ideal. 

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  • 03 of 04

    Engineered Wood Flooring Nail-Down Installation

    Engineered wood flooring designed for nail-down (non-floating) installation has tongue-and-groove edges similar to traditional hardwood flooring. Most types can also be used for glue-down applications. Always follow the flooring manufacturer's instructions. The basic installation follows a standard process:

    1. Unpack and acclimate the flooring planks for three to four days in the room where it will be installed, so that it may acclimate to the temperature and humidity of the room. Do not store engineered wood flooring in basements or garages.
    2. Remove the baseboard trim around the perimeter of the room, using a pry bar.
    3. Remove the old flooring, if necessary. Carpet and ceramic tiles floors will likely need to be removed, but a new engineered wood floor can often be laid directly over existing vinyl flooring.  
    4. Clean, level, and prepare the subfloor by nailing down loose areas and checking for dips and other imperfections. The smoother and flatter your floor, the better your new installation will be. 
    5. Trim door case moldings at the bottom so the new flooring can slide under. Special flush-cutting panel saws are available for this. An electric oscillating saw can also do this job easily. 
    6. Install the recommended underlayment for nail-down installation. Sometimes this is ordinary builder's paper or felt; other manufacturers may recommend some type of foam underlayment. 
    7. Begin installing a row of flooring strips along one long wall, using a chalk line as a guide to keep the strips straight. Also use spacer blocks to create a small gap between the wall and the first row of flooring. In most installations, the first row is nailed through the top face of the flooring (face-nailing), using finish nails. 
    8. Install subsequent rows of flooring with a flooring nailer or staple gun, as appropriate. This involves driving the nail or staple through the tongue of each strip, a technique called blind-nailing because the nails are hidden by the next row of flooring. Stagger the joints between strips from one row to the next, for a natural appearance. 
    9. Trim and fit flooring pieces as necessary around floor obstructions;
    10. Install baseboard trim, then do a final cleaning of the floor.
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  • 04 of 04

    Engineered Wood Floating-Floor Installation

    A floating-floor installation follows a similar process to a nail-down floor but requires no nailing of the flooring planks. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for your flooring and application. Most installations involve a similar process: 

    1. Unpack and acclimate the flooring planks for three to four days in the room where it will be installed, so that it may acclimate to the temperature and humidity of the room. Do not store engineered wood flooring in basements or garages.
    2. Remove shoe molding from baseboard trim, using a pry bar. You do not have to remove the baseboard trim itself.
    3. Remove the old flooring, if necessary. Carpet and ceramic tiles floors will likely need to be removed, but a new engineered wood floor can often be laid directly over existing vinyl flooring. 
    4. Clean, level and prepare the subfloor. A smooth, flat subfloor will greatly improve the look of your new floor. 
    5. Trim door case moldings at the bottom so the new flooring can slide under. Special flush-cutting panel saws are available for this. An electric oscillating saw can also do this job easily. 
    6. Install foam underlayment as recommended by the manufacturer. This resilient foam both provides a cushion for the floor and also helps dampen sound. If sound-proofing is especially important, you may want to look for an underlayment pad specially designed for that. 
    7. Install wood spacer blocks along the wall where you will start. Each manufacturer will have a recommendation on how much space to allow. Don't install the flooring flush against the wall; floating floors are meant to expand and contract slightly, and the gap around the walls is important for proper installation. 
    8. Set the first plank of flooring in place along one of the long walls of the room, with the tongue edge facing the baseboard. End joints on this first row of planks will likely have interlocking joints. Secure them tightly, using a wood block and hammer. 
    9. Install the planks for subsequent rows by holding each plank at an angle and fitting the tongue of the plank into the groove of the plank(s) in the previously installed row, then press the plank flat to interlock the planks. Tap the planks together, as needed, to tighten the joints, using a hammer and a wood block. 
    10. Install remaining strips of flooring the same way, randomly staggering end joints as you go. 
    11. Trim and fit planks as necessary around floor obstructions. 
    12. Install baseboard shoe molding trim, then do a final cleaning of the floor.