Installing Engineered Wood Flooring Installation

  • 01 of 04

    Introduction

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

    Although they look similar on the surface, engineered wood flooring is much different than solid wood flooring. Learn more about the structural differences by referring to this article.


    Engineered wood flooring consists of three to ten layers of structural wood layers (usually five), including a prefinished veneer face layer. Each layer of wood is called a "ply" and is oriented in different directions for strength and then glued under high pressure.


    This laminated construction technique results in...MORE a product that is more stable than a solid wood floor—less susceptible to shrinkage and expansion movement due to fluctuations in humidity or temperature.


    Since prefinished engineered wood floors are constructed and finished in a factory, you will end up with a more durable finish than with a site-applied finish applied to solid hardwood floors. Factory prefinished floors are rich in aluminum oxides and are cured under ultraviolet lights. Also, prefinished floors allow you to walk on the floor as soon as it is installed, unlike site-finished floors.


    Site-finished floors have a smooth surface between boards as a result of plank design and on-site sanding, but prefinished engineered wood flooring looks different, in that it has a small bevel at the joints. These joint bevels are actually helpful, as they collect dirt and dust for easy cleaning, rather than getting ground in with foot traffic, as is the case with field-applied finishes.  


    Engineered wood flooring is a beautiful flooring product, and there are several different installation options. Some products are designed for glue-down application, as is often used when installing over a concrete slab. Some other products are well-suited for securing to a wood subfloor with nails. Increasingly popular, though, as the engineering has been steadily perfects, is an installation method in which the engineered wood planks are joined together with interlocking joints, but do not get glued down or nailed at all, but simply "float" over the subfloor. Let’s take a look at some installation issues and a summary overview of different engineered wood flooring installation methods.


    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    Installation Options with Engineered Wood Flooring

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

    A nice feature of tongue-and-groove engineered wood floors is that you can choose how you want to install the flooring. It may be installed non-floating, i.e., directly to the sub-floor using staple nails or glue-down adhesive, or it may be installed as an interlocking floating floor that requires no glue or nails. Interlocking floating wood floors are the easiest to install and require no specialized tools.


    Installation Over Concrete:
    In certain circumstances engineered wood flooring may also...MORE able to be installed directly over concrete or in below grade applications. That is something solid wood floors typically cannot accomplish. However, before installation is attempted over a concrete floor or a basement slab, vapor transmission testing must be done to determine if the level of concrete slab vapor emissions/ hydrostatic pressure is acceptable. The problem of excessive moisture in a basement slab or concrete slab may be devastating to an engineered wood flooring installation and can cause the plies to separate.  Moisture emissions through the concrete slab must usually not be more than 3 lbs per 1,000 square feet in 24 hours. The calcium chloride vapor transmission test kit can often be found at flooring supply distributors.


    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 air circulation space beneath the flooring and reducing the chances of moisture damage. Raised subfloor panels can be also be used on standard floors where the subfloor may be less than ideal. 


    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    Non-floating Installation of Engineered Wood Flooring

    Engineered wood flooring designed for non-floating installation is either nailed down into a wooden subfloor or glued down, such as when installed over a concrete slab. Check carefully with manufacturer's product instructions. Some products are only meant for floating application, while others are suitable to either installation style. 


    Non-floating flooring is generally installed with the following steps:


    1. Unpack and acclimate the flooring planks for three to four days in the room where it will be...MORE installed, so that it may acclimate to the temperature and humidity of the room. If the installation is occurring in a room with new drywall or plaster, the higher humidity of these rooms will require at least seven days of acclimation. 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, if you are doing a nail-down installation. Sometimes this is ordinary builder's paper or felt; other manufacturers may recommend some type of foam underlayment. 
    7. For glue-down installations, you will trowel floor adhesive down onto the subfloor in sections, installing floor sections as you go. 
    8. Begin installation along a long wall, using spacer blocks to create a small gap between the wall and the first row of flooring. 
    9. Begin installing flooring pieces, nailing or gluing as appropriate. As subsequent rows get installed, stagger the joints randomly. 
    10. With nailing applications, strips installed after the first row are often "blind-nailed" with a special power nailing tool that drives nails into the edge of the tongue-and-groove joints. Follow your manufacturer's recommendations on this. 
    11. If  your flooring product is of the interlocking tongue and groove variety, then the planks will be "snapped' together, with ends snugged up using a wood tapping block and hammer.
    12. Trim and fit flooring pieces as necessary around floor obstructions;
    13. Install baseboard trim, then do a final cleaning of the floor.

    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    Floating Installation of Engineered Wood Flooring


    Floating engineered wood flooring interlocks together and is generally installed with the following steps:


    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. If the installation is occurring in a room with new drywall or plaster, the higher humidity of these rooms will require at least seven days of acclimation. Do not store engineered wood flooring in basements or garages.
    2. Rem...MOREove 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. 
    9. End joints on this first row of planks will likely have interlocking joints. Secure them tightly, using a wood block and hammer. 
    10. On subsequent rows, holding the  wood floor planks at a bit of an angle, tap them into the starter strip row of planks with a special hammer called a dead blow hammer, which is a tool made to absorb the shock of a hammer strike.
    11. Install remaining strips of flooring the same way, randomly staggering end joints as you go. 
    12. Trim and fit planks as necessary around floor obstructions. 
    13. Install baseboard shoe molding trim, then do a final cleaning of the floor.