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How to Install Wood Floors

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August 15, 2006

Learn the basics of how to install wood floors.

Installing wood floors in your home is a major investment. It's important to make sure the installation process is given the care and concern it deserves. Once your wood floors are installed you want them to last and be trouble free, except, of course, for cleaning and maintenance.

The quality of how to install wood floors will determine to a large degree how your floors endure the test of time and traffic. Make sure if you're planning to learn how to install wood floors yourself, to take the time to learn the entire process before you begin your project. You"ll also want to make sure you have all the tools and sufficient wood flooring to complete your project. The steps given here are very basic.

The first step of how to install wood floors is the delivery. Wood floor materials have been kiln dried. You"ll want to do your best to maintain the moisture content of your new wood floors. Don't unload in rain, snow or excessively moist conditions. If there will be excessive moisture where you"ll store the wood until it's laid make sure to cover it with a tarp or other materials to protect it from moisture.

Next, you"ll want to make sure to lay a moisture barrier between the sub-floor and your new wood floor. The materials you"ll use will depend upon the type of sub-floor you're working with. Concrete and plywood are common sub-floor materials. For the moisture barrier, you can use black building paper or asphalt felt. This should cover the entire area where you"ll lay your wood flooring.

How to Install Wood Floors

The next step of how to install wood floors is to begin to place the flooring. Two primary types of flooring are tongue and groove and square pieces of wood. The thickness of the wood will normally be between 5/8", ?", and ?". The thickness will determine the size of nails or staples you use to put down the flooring.

The first course of flooring layment is vital to how your finished wood floor will look. You"ll want to begin floor layment at a right angle to the longest dimension of your room. As you begin, make sure to leave ?" space at every wall. This is for expansion. It will be covered by molding or baseboards once the flooring is complete. Moisture content varies so there must be room for your flooring to contract and expand.

It's usually best to begin layment from left to right. You"ll want to lay your pieces in a staggered pattern (for tongue and groove). Make sure to vary long and short pieces. You don't want all your short pieces located together. It's a good idea to lay out seven or eight rows before you make the placement of the boards permanent with nails or staples. This will give you a good visual of how the flooring will look and help you to stagger and place long and short pieces.

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