Everything You Need to Know About Laying Your Own Hardwood Flooring: Best Tips & Tools

A hardwood floor can be an attractive addition to any home. Its rich appearance will attract you and your guests and it will definitely add value to your home. You can install hardwood flooring in your bedrooms, living rooms or even kitchens which makes it quite a versatile home improvement technique.

However, when it comes to laying a hardwood floor by yourself, one has to consider a number of different things. Starting from selecting the type of hard wood flooring, you can choose between solid hard wood or engineered hard wood. More on this in the following section.

Before starting this project, it is imperative that you should make sure that the subfloor is prepared for hardwood installation or otherwise, you might have to be content with a squeaky floor.

If you’re planning to install a hardwood floor by yourself, but aren’t sure of where to start from, you’ve just landed at the perfect place. In the below-mentioned guide, we’ll discuss ingreat length about some of the best techniques which can help even a novice builder to come up with a perfect construction project.

Types of Hardwood Flooring

There are two types of hardwood floors which are available in today’s market: Engineered and Solid Wood. Both these types incorporate a distinct composition and each one of them is suitable for a specific location.


Engineered Wood Flooring

The engineered wood flooring is crafted with two or more layers of wood. The upper layer is made of hardwood. For the lower layers, these are usually made of plywood, wood strands, fibres, oriented strand board or fibreboard. The different layers are bound together with glue. Thanks to such a construction, the engineered wood flooring has a thinner composition compared to that of the solid wood flooring.

This type of flooring is generally recommended for novice builders or any other customers who are lay down their own floor for the very first time. The reason behind it is that unlike solid wood flooring, the engineered wood flooring comes in a pre-finished form. It means that once it arrives at your doorstep, you don’t have to spend additional time for any kind of floor preparation.

Engineered Wood Flooring

Unlike some solid wood flooring, you don’t need additional layers of plywood underneath. This particular feature eventually makes it a viable option for apartments and basements where you just cannot afford to raise the surface height to leave a sufficient clearance near the doors.


Furthermore, as this type of flooring incorporates different layers of wood, it makes it much more durable and less likely to warp or change shape. You can use it under extreme temperatures and it won’t give way for an extended duration.

The downside is, the thin top layer only allows for minor superficial repairs and light sanding. Heavy sanding can take off the layer of veneer completely, exposing the other materials underneath. This makes changing the colour of flooring in the future impossible.

Solid Wood Flooring

Solid wood flooring is generally made from a single piece of wood which makes it two to three times thicker than the engineered wood flooring. It can be refinished or sanded for a number of different times which is great for customers whom are alway vying for a detailed finish.

Cut from a single piece of natural wood, it is available in flat narrow or wide pieces with tongue and groove joints. Compared to engineered hard wood these may vary slightly in width from one end to the other, something to watch out for during installation. As these are cut from one piece of lumbar, solid hard wood flooring are costlier and therefore more expensive to buy.

Solid Wood Flooring

The thing that is impressive about solid wood flooring is the classic look and style. No two pieces are alike. If you’re one of those people who prefer a traditional look for your homes, there is no better option than the solid wood flooring in darker shades. To achieve a more modern look

Having said that, it is recommended to check the moisture level of the surface before considering it as a viable option for the solid wood flooring. This is due to the reason that it tends to expand with the changes in temperature. In fact, the solid wood flooring should never be installed on a bottom-grade surface, such as a basement, where moisture is present in abundance.

Coming towards laying any such type of floor in kitchens or bathrooms, you can do so provided protective finish is applied to either side of the solid wood flooring.

Surface Preparation

When it comes to lay down a new hard floor, the first thing which you’re going to do is to prepare the surface. Since this is the base of your construction project, you just cannot afford to work on a damaged surface.

Start with by replacing the existing flooring with a new one. Make sure that the new floor, which you’re about to lay down, is free from any kind of damages or otherwise, it will affect the overall project.

Then check out the moisture levels on the surface with the help of a surface moisture meter. Make sure that the moisture readings doesn’t exceed 15% as it will keep your flooring intact for an extended duration of time.

Similarly, grab a hygrometer and check out the levels of humidity inside the room. According to a wide range of construction experts, the normal level of relative humidity – inside finished homes – vary from 40% to 50%. So make sure that the RH levels, at your desired location, does not go beyond the specified limit.

hygrometer

Finally, check out the surface in search of gaps, cracks or any kind of bumps. It is imperative that the surface should be free from any such defects if you want to protect yourself from squeaky floors.

Installation Areas

Hardwood floors can be installed on almost any type of surface as long as it falls in the above grade or on grade category. It includes, but isn’t limited to, wooden, concrete, tile and even vinyl subfloors.

However, if you’re planning to install a hardwood flooring on a surface with a high degree of moisture, it is recommended to consult the manufacturer of this product. Once the manufacturer approves it, only then should you move ahead with your construction project.

Tools

Once you’ve decided the type of hardwood flooring, it’s time to invest in the tools. Depending on the installation technique which you’re going to adapt, which might vary from a glued down installation to even a glueless installation, there is a wide range of tools which are available in today’s market.

Glued down installation is recommended for solid wood flooring. You can afford to go glueless for engineering wood flooring.

We’ve listed some of the common tools which will work just fine regardless of the installation technique. You can purchase these tools from the nearby hardware store and you can also acquire them from the online marketplace.

  • Broom for the sake of cleaning
  • Crowbar for removing old/damaged wooden floor
  • Chalk line or marker pen for noting down measurements
  • Miter saw, circular saw or jigsaw for cutting hardwood planks (any one of them)
  • Hammer for finishing nails
  • Spacers to accommodate the anticipated expansion gap
  • Tapping tool for superior tongue protection
  • Knife for paper trimming

Miter Saw

Circular Saw

Jig Saw

Useful Tips

  • Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before starting out a construction project.
  • Make sure that the surface, on which you’re about to install a new hardwood floor, is structurally intact.
  • Choose a suitable subfloor, one with sufficient padding and sound proofing.
  • Use sufficient felt paper to cover the subfloor.
  • Level the subfloor before installing the new hardwood floor.
  • Place spacers at the edge where the hardwood floor meets the wall.
  • Start from left to right while laying down the hardwood floor.
  • Purchase the right set of tools as per your requirement.
  • Measure and cut down the planks in a separate room.
  • Use the straightest of boards for laying down the first row of the floor.
  • Measure the width of the boards as you go especially solid wood floor as there may be slight variations.
  • Check the boards for severe warping or other defects.