Hardwood Flooring Tips From a Pro
By Rob Robillard
If you’re like most people you probably love the look and charm of a hardwood floor. Hardwood floors never go out of fashion and can add real value to your home. I have hardwood flooring in every room in my house and I love it.
Hardwood floors are durable and natural, come in a variety of species, are hypoallergenic and easy to maintain. When well maintained these floors can last a hundred years.
Recently I was asked by a client to remove carpeting in a 12-by-12-ft. bedroom and install 3/4-by-3-in. Cherry species hardwood plank flooring. I’m a big fan of Cherry flooring. I like its unique color attributes, darkening as it ages to a mature, rich, burnished auburn color.
We bought our wood from a local supplier and selected the second highest grade, which differs from Clear grade only in that Select grade, shows more of the full range of color/grain found in the species, including what’s found in the Clear grade.
The Cherry planks were free of knots, splits, checks, worm holes, excessive mineral streaks or contrasting sapwood and looked great!
Here’s how we approached this installation:
Measure the Room
Measure the width and length of the room and multiply that number to determine the room’s square footage. When ordering hardwood flooring, always order an additional 10-15 percent extra for waste and cutting out irregular boards.
Preparing for Hardwood Floor Installation
First order of business was to remove all of the furniture, and then cut the carpet into four sections of 36-in. strips. This made it easy to roll the carpet into manageable strips and carry to the trash bin.
Once the carpet was removed we removed all of the carpet tack strips, swept the floor thoroughly and then installed 2-in. deck screws into the subfloor and floor joists approximately every 24 in. to help eliminate to possibility of flooring squeaks.
Flooring Moisture Content
Hardwood flooring needs to acclimate in the rooms where it is going to be installed for several days to allow it to adjust to temperature and humidity. Otherwise, if installed without acclimating, gaps and/or buckling may occur. Many contractors suggest leaving the wood on the jobsite for two weeks to acclimate well in hopes of preventing any issues.
The truth is that some wood flooring may already be at the proper moisture content when delivered. Allowing it to sit in extremely heavy humidity will only cause the wood planks to absorb unwanted moisture.
It’s best to know what the moisture content of your wood planks are at the time of delivery and what the expected moisture content will be in the room when it will be installed. I always ask the manufacturer what the flooring moisture content is and then double check with my moisture meter.
Lay Out the Room
Hardwood flooring should be installed on a solid, structurally sound subfloor. Whenever possible, determine the direction of your floor joists and plan on installing your plank flooring perpendicular to the joists.
Install 15-lb. Kraft paper underlayment on the entire floor, overlapping the roll edges by 3 inches. The Kraft paper acts as a vapor barrier. A utility knife is used to cut around objects like door jambs, radiators or other permanent objects. A few well placed staples hold the Kraft paper in place.
On this installation we were installing the hardwood flooring against the existing room trim so no shoe molding was to be used.
Select a few straight, long boards to start the first row. Using a table saw, rip the grooves off at a 15-degree angle to get the first starter row of planks to fit tight to the wall’s baseboard trim.