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Hardwood Floor Installation: Site Preparation

Step 1. Job Site Preparation for a Wood Floor

The most critical step that many do it yourself hardwood floor installations are missing is adequate site preparation even BEFORE any hardwood flooring arrives.

A subfloor that is rigid enough, level and adequately screwed is a great starting point for diy installation. Wood Flooring requires attention to humidity, so knowing and maintaining correct moisture levels in the house will assure a stable floor.

These two elements, the right subfloor and the right environment, are essential when learning how to install hardwood flooring!

What is considered an adequate subfloor?

Aspenite or any other particle board product is not considered to be suitable for nail down hardwood floors. It neither holds nails adequately or has enough strength to prevent saging.The National Hardwood Flooring Association recommends that all 3/4" flooring be nailed down onto a minimum of 5/8" tongue and groove plywood or 5/8" oriented strand board (OSB).

It is essential that the subfloor be screwed down securily to the underlying floor joists.. but don't go crazy or you'll not be able to nail the flooring down in place without hitting all the screws. Once that has been completed, although it may seem kind of stupid, it is a good idea to jump around on every corner of the floor, to locate any remaining squeaks. Add additional screws and reblock the floor from underneath as necessary. Don't let anyone convince you that squeaking can be solved by nailing down your flooring. At that point, it is usually too late!

Where it is difficult to add screws, try some of the fantastic construction adheasives like PL premium, and glue in support blocks behind ducting or in any other locations that are difficult to access.

I'd like to install wood floor in a new house, are there any special issues here?

It is a great idea to spend ten dollars and buy a humidistat to measure the relative humidity in your home. New houses are notorious for very high humidity. You have cement foundations drying, new paint and drywall, all adding moisture into this environment.

You should not bring into the home or even think of installing a new wood floor in Northern Ontario until the humidity is below 55%. If you install your wood flooring prematurely, under excessively high humidity, its guaranteed to swell and compress the edges of the wood. During the first dry winter these same boards will show significant cracks as they react to a much dryer environment.

The game plan is to have a home environment on the day of installation that represents the "yearly average" humidity common in your part of the world. If the moisture content of the flooring is also at this "yearly average" than the hardwood floor installation will be a success.

Further Information:
How to Install Hardwood Flooring


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