What Should I Consider When Installing Hardwood Floors?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
A house with hardwood flooring.
A house with hardwood flooring.

Putting in hardwood flooring is a great way to add charm to your home. While it is possible to choose a hardwood floor design that ranges from the traditional to the eclectic, there are a few basics that you should consider before beginning the job. Here is what you need to take into consideration when installing hardwood floors.

One of your first concerns is to assess the condition of the existing flooring. Your hardwood floor must rest on something. It may be a wooden sub-floor, or you may be working with a concrete slab. In either case, it is important to make sure the support flooring is level, smooth, and capable of supporting your new hardwood floors.

Installing hardwood floors may help add value to a home.
Installing hardwood floors may help add value to a home.

To make sure the sub-floor will function properly, clean the area thoroughly. This will make it easier to identify protruding tacks or flooring nails that must be removed before installing hardwood floors in any room. This will also give you the opportunity to walk the sub-floor and make sure the supporting floor joists do not seem to give under your weight. If there are any weak spots that seem to sink when you walk over them, the supports must be replaced or repaired before installing hardwood floors.

Before installing hardwood floors, make sure the sub-floor is strong, smooth and flat.
Before installing hardwood floors, make sure the sub-floor is strong, smooth and flat.

Once you are sure the sub-floor is sound, you can turn your attention to the installation of the padding that will reside under your hardwood floors. While not required for all types of hardwood floors, the padding is essential if you plan on using the tongue-in-groove flooring sections that basically snap into place as you lay the floor. The padding should be chosen in accordance with the manufacturer instructions and will make the task of installing flooring much easier. An additional benefit of the padding is that it will also provide your hardwood floor with a slight give and take as you walk across the finished floor.

When installing hardwood floors, first allow the boards to acclimate to the temperature and moisture levels in the house.
When installing hardwood floors, first allow the boards to acclimate to the temperature and moisture levels in the house.

There is one aspect of installing wood floors that far too many homeowners overlook. Before the actual installation begins, it is important to allow the boards to acclimate to the temperature and humidity level of your home. Wood will expand and contract slightly as a response to these two factors. Before you begin installing hardwood floors, place the wood in your home in or near the room where the installation will take place and leave it there for a couple of days. You will find that installing flooring after allowing this period of adjustment will help to minimize buckling or gaping as the years go by.

A concrete slab should be smooth prior to applying a hardwood floor.
A concrete slab should be smooth prior to applying a hardwood floor.

Installing hardwood floors not only enhances the look and feel of your rooms. With hardwood floors enjoying a resurgence in popularity, you are also adding value to your home. As with any type of home improvement, this increases your chances for making a profit should you ever decide to sell the property. In the interim, the act of installing hardwood floors will provide you with a home environment that is warm, cozy, and more inviting than many other flooring options.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

Drentel

@Laotionne - The reason you don't see the nails in the face of the hardwood floors that are tacked down with nails is because the nails are set below the surface, and then the holes are filled in with wood putty. This type of work calls for a little more skill than the locking floors require, so you might want to hire professional hardwood floor installers for this type of job.

When wood floors are set in place with nails and staples, the work is much easier and better looking when you use power guns to insert the nails and staples, so this is an additional cost unless you already have these tools. However, the work can be done by amateurs. You just shouldn't expect everything to go perfectly. You will have some mistakes, and this will cost you time and maybe a little more money, too.

Feryll

@Laotionne - I installed a laminate tile floor in our kitchen. The blocks of tile fit together in the tongue-in-groove fashion. This was the first floor I had ever attempted to install, and I was able to get it put down without any help. The floor looks good. This type of installation is much easier than trying to glue a floor down. I would never have been able to get the adhesive spread evenly and the floor laid properly.

So, I think the tongue-in-groove locking system is going to be the best type of hardwood flooring for you to buy if you are installing hardwood flooring yourself as a do-it-yourself project. If I were to have a professional do the job, I might choose another type of hardwood flooring installation.

Laotionne

Are the tongue-in-groove types of wood floors easier to install? I have always wondered how you hide the nails when you use the other type of hardwood flooring that has to be nailed into place.

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    • A house with hardwood flooring.
      A house with hardwood flooring.
    • Installing hardwood floors may help add value to a home.
      Installing hardwood floors may help add value to a home.
    • Before installing hardwood floors, make sure the sub-floor is strong, smooth and flat.
      Before installing hardwood floors, make sure the sub-floor is strong, smooth and flat.
    • When installing hardwood floors, first allow the boards to acclimate to the temperature and moisture levels in the house.
      When installing hardwood floors, first allow the boards to acclimate to the temperature and moisture levels in the house.
    • A concrete slab should be smooth prior to applying a hardwood floor.
      A concrete slab should be smooth prior to applying a hardwood floor.