Tag Archives: Installation

Refinishing Your Hardwood Floor

url-73The first step to refinishing your hardwood flooring is deciding whether your project needs a complete refinishing job.  If the floor is clearly damaged from flooding or stains, you may need to repair before refinishing. Remember that your floors need to be at least 3/4’’ thick. To avoid sanding down to the sub-floor, check with a professional if your floor is thinner than ¾.’’ Realize that if your floor is slightly thinner, it may not be able to be refinished. Pay close attention to the flooring beneath the hardwood. If there is a floor covering underneath, remove the old floor first.

Home improvement jobs take a lot of preparation, analyzing, and time before beginning the work. The floor must be cleaned and sanded properly in order to start the refinishing process. Make sure everything is cleared out of the room. Remove all furniture and closet items and cover all light fixtures. Next, remove shoe moulding by wedging a pry bar between the moulding and the wall. Place a block of wood behind a bar to prevent damage. Seal the door with masking tape in order to close off the room from the rest of your space. Lastly, vacuum the floor to remove dirt.

Now it’s time for sanding! A drum sander is the perfect tool to use. Most of the time these tools can be rented. A few tips for using this are:

  • Step 1
    • Begin sanding in the center of the room. Sand with the grain from one end of the room to the other, overlapping passes by an inch or two. Repeat the procedure on the other half of the room. Sand the entire center portion of the floor.
  • Step 2
    • After the main portion of the floor has been sanded with the drum sander, hand-sand or use an edge sander to sand areas where the drum sander did not reach. Use the same grit sandpaper you used with the drum sander. You may need to hand-sand or use a detail sander to reach the corners.
  • Step 3
    • When the entire floor is finished, vacuum and repeat the entire process using smaller grit (larger number) sandpaper with each pass.
  • Step 4
    • Finish by sanding the entire floor with 120 grit sandpaper.
  • Step 5
    • After the last sanding, vacuum once more and wipe with a dry cloth or tack cloth

Staining your floor

You can apply a clear sealer to your newly refinished floor or apply a stain, water- or oil-based. Some stains require more than one coat with a sanding between. Remember to keep the furniture out of the room until the floor is completely dry. After the floor is dry, reinstall the shoe moulding. To get the best finish, buff the floor after staining or sealing.

How to Install a Hardwood Floor

DIY experts take us step-by-step to help install beautiful wood floors

Step 1: Choose the Boards

Choose the hardwood species and board widths for the room installation.

Step 2: Measure the Room

Measure the width and length of the room and multiply for the square footage. When ordering hardwood flooring, allow 10-15 percent extra for irregular boards and any cutting mistake.

Step 3: Check for a Squeaky Floor

Check the sub-floor. Minimum requirements are a 3/4″ plywood sub-floor. Make sure there are no squeaks in the floor. If there’s a squeak, screw a long drywall screw into the sub-floor and joist where the squeak occurs. Remove shoe-molding from the room and sweep and clean thoroughly.

Step 4: Roll Out the Vapor Barrier Paper

Roll out strips of vapor barrier paper, allowing at least a 4″ overlap and staple securely to the sub-floor. Use 15 pound tar paper or felt. It is relatively inexpensive (it’s approximately $12 a roll at a home improvement store). Mark with a pencil along the baseboards where the joists are located.

Step 5: Start Installation

Start the installation at the longest unobstructed wall. Remove the shoe molding, and snap a chalk line 3/8″ out from the baseboard (this allows for expansion in the hot, humid weather and contraction in the colder, drier weather of the hardwood flooring).

Step 6: Place the Boards

Begin by selecting a long board to start the first row. Pick one that is straight. Align the edge of the board with the chalk line and drill pilot holes down through the hardwood plank and into the sub-floor and joist. Face-nail each board at the point of every joist and set the nail with a nail-set. Face-nail the entire first row and remember to keep the board lengths random. It is important to face-nail the first row because the pneumatic nail can’t get down in there. It will hit the wall and the force would push the wood against the baseboard, which would lose the 3/8″ expansion and contraction.

It is important to lay the first boards perpendicular to the joists which are underneath. That is important because you want a nice solid anchor. Look at the subfloor to see which way the nails and seams ran. Try to go underneath the crawl space to see how they run.

Step 7: Hand-Nail the Rolls

After the first few rows have been installed, drill pilot holes down into the tongue of each board and hand-nail the rolls until there is enough clearance for the pneumatic nail gun.

Tip: Lay out a box of hardwood boards ahead of the installation to visualize lengths, wood grain and colors of the boards. When laying out the boards, keep in mind to never have the ends of boards in adjacent rows line up with each other. Keep the lengths random and at least 6″ in length.

Step 8: Staple the Boards

Using the pneumatic nail gun, place the gun lip over the edge of the board and strike firmly with the mallet, driving the staple into the tongue of the hardwood plank.

When installing up to a threshold, it is not critical to make cuts exact. Come back later after the floor has been installed and use a circular saw to cut across for a precise cut.

use pneumatic nail gun to staple tongue into plank

Step 9: Cutting the Baseboard

When cutting along the baseboards, select a piece that will fit in there and leave 10 or 12 inches more and cut it off. Use the other piece on the beginning of the next row. You don’t always have to get it in there real close and throw out the end piece. That will save some time and waste.

use cut off boards from one row to start next row

Step 10: Fill in the Gaps

Be sensitive to the way the ends fit together. One end has a tongue and the other end has a groove — this is called end matched. Make sure to always cut the wall end of the wood so that you do not cut off the groove that fits to the tongue. If that happens, that would result in a pretty big gap. Find a piece and lay it alongside the hole and flip it over. Make sure when you make the mark to cut off the wall side, not the room side. When you make the mark, butt it up against the baseboard and then mark at the end of that tongue. That will leave a 3/8″ gap for expansion and contraction when installing the piece.

Note: Before nailing, make sure to put at least two nails in every board. The rule of thumb is to place a nail every 10″ to 12″.

Step 11: Work Around Clearance Issue

As you near the opposite wall, clearance for the pneumatic nail gun again becomes an issue. Drill pilot holes and hand-nail the boards until there is no longer clearance for the drill and hammer. At that point, drill pilot holes down into the top of the boards and face-nail the boards, remembering to set the nails with a nail-set.

Tip: Use a pry bar and a few extra scraps of flooring to firmly seat the hardwood plank as you nail.

Step 12: Fit Last Board Into Place

If there’s a narrow gap for the last board, take a measurement and rip (cut length-wise) the last board to fit into place. Remember to leave a 3/8″ gap at the end wall for expansion and contraction space.

Step 13: Fill Holes With Wood Putty

Replace shoe molding in the room and putty all of the nail holes that have been face-nailed. Be sure to get wood putty that matches the floor. Fill the hole and wipe off the excess.

Step 14: Hardwood Floor Maintenance

Maintenance is easy for a pre-finished hardwood floor — keep grit off of the surface by sweeping regularly and use a flooring cleaning kit (alcohol-based) and spray on and wipe off with a damp cloth. Hardwood floors also help cut down on dust mites.

See more pictures and examples at http://bit.ly/129zwQu

Should I float, glue or nail down my new hardwood floor?

    Ron Call, Your Urbanfloor Guy

Ron Call’s humble beginning in the flooring industry started at age 18 as an apprentice in 1978.  Today Ron is a recognized leader amongst his peers and clients throughout the industry.  34 years later Ron is an expert in all floor covering products specializing in hardwood installation and refinishing and the owner of the very successful Harmony Flooring based out of San Diego serving the entire southern California region. Have questions?  Need Advise?  Visit the Ask Ron section of our blog or email him direct at askron@urbanfloor.com

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This is a question that I have been asked many times over the years. There are several factors to consider and each home, customer and product is different and so there is no one size fits all perfect answer. Some of the considerations are.

  1. Appearance
  2. Cost
  3. Sub floor type
  4. Home type ie: single family home, condo or even mobile home
  5. Manufacturers recommendations
  6. Feel and sound

Appearance is considered because even though you are installing the same floor in the same areas, using different methods will mean slight differences in a the look, sound and feel of you floor as well as the cost involved in the installation.  With the floating method of installation you will need to install transition moldings (T-moldings) in all doorways or openings between adjacent areas where the opening is less than 4 feet wide.  These little speed bumps as some of my customers like to call them can be a real deal breaker for some customers. They like the look of a continuous wood floor as it flows from one room to the next just like they remembered the wooden floors from their childhood homes. Other people don’t care and are fine with T moldings in their doorways. The reason you need a T molding separating these areas is because with a floating floor the edges are glued or locked together. And when the floor expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity it moves as one large monolithic piece of wood floating over the top of the padding and vapor barrier (hence the term floating floor). So the changes in temperature and humidity say in the kitchen would directly affect the function of you floor across the width of the house say in the back bedrooms. With a glued down or nailed down hardwood floor each plank is fastened directly to the subfloor and not to the adjacent plank so when one plank expands it does not necessarily affect the others planks. So T moldings are not required.

Cost is considered because we all love to save money. And each method involves different supplies, materials and installation time. The least expensive method is the floating floor as you save between $1.50 and $2.50 per square foot when taking into consideration the cost of glue/sealer and additional labor cost to install a glued down floor. A nailed down floor falls somewhere in the middle but is limited by the type of subfloor (must be plywood) and manufacturers recommendations (some floors cannot be nailed down successfully).

Subfloor type is considered as certain subfloors will accommodate any installation method but with others you will be limited. If you have a concrete slab on grade you may float or glue your floor but you cannot nail it down unless you first install ¾ inch plywood first which is done occasionally but it will significantly increase the cost of your new floor installation because you would be essentially installing two floors. The new plywood subfloor and then the new hardwood floor. On a plywood subfloor you may float, glue or nail down your new wood floor. On light weight concrete or gypsum floors like you have in a condo or apartment, floating your floor may be your only option depending on the softness and porosity of the subfloor. Nail down floors on lightweight concrete is not an option. And installing plywood first may be impossible if it’s a soft type gypsum floor. I do not recommend the glue down method for these floors either as you can never be certain of the hardness and the porosity of the subfloor. And with the tremendous pressures that can be exerted between the hardwood floor the glue and the subfloor, this could be a recipe for failure. Always consult your local installation professional for guidance as to which methods will work in your home.

Home type is considered because if you live in a condo or apartment type building you may be subject to the dreaded CCR’s. Home owner’s association rules that you agreed to when you moved in your building. Often they will require that hard surface floors like hardwood if allowed at all will need appropriate sound proofing underlayment. Be sure to follow these rules to the letter as I have seen some associations make people’s lives pretty miserable if the rules are not followed. Often they will require only certain brands of products or one’s that meet strict soundproofing thresholds IIC ratings. Sometimes they require the building superintendant to photograph the various stages of the installation to ensure compliance. And often you must submit your proposal to the board for approval before starting any work. So do not make any purchases of materials until you’re approved in writing by your association. This will save you much time and aggravation. Mobile homes can be done as well but pay close attention to leveling issues. Carpet can cover a lot of expensive problems that you may not be aware of.

Manufactures recommendations must always be followed as your warrantee is a big part of purchasing your new floor. You do not want to have you’re warrantee voided due to improper installation. Your flooring dealer will help you with these issues.

Feel and sound is a consideration in that nailed and glued down installations tend to sound a little more solid, and will have very little movement when you walk across the floor. Where as a floating installation will sound a little more hollow and the floor will have a little more movement because it is installed over a pad. If you tend be on your feet for long periods of time say in your kitchen, this may be a good thing as it will feel a little softer underfoot.

There is a lot to consider when deciding which method is best for you and your home. It all may seem a little daunting especially when it took you this long just to pick the right style and color for your home. Your local Urbanfloor dealer and installation professional will help you through the process. If I can help you in any way you can contact me here at the website “Ask Ron

 

Ron Call

Your UrbanFloor Guy.

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