How To Install A Wood Floating Floor: Materials, Tools And Instructions

This list of materials, tools and techniques will teach you how to quickly and easily install floating wood floors youself to improve and upgrade the value and look of your home.

Adding a wood floor is one of the ways you can add a touch of warmth to your home. Wood floors are durable, easy to clean and will increase the value of your home. As late as the 1990s, installing wood flooring was a costly and rigorous endeavor. Now, with "floating floors" a do-it-yourselfer can install their own wood floor in a weekend's time.

Floating wood floors are different from traditional wood floors. Special tongue-and-groove boards fit together at the edges and ends. Glue, not nails, connects the boards. The boards connect to one another, not the sub-floor. Because of this, you can place floating wood floors on any level, including the basement where concrete slabs usually act as the sub-floor. With traditional wood floors, basement level installation is usually impossible because the nails used to secure the floor cannot penetrate the concrete. On other levels of your home, wood usually acts as the sub-floor.

Wood, even engineered wood, is organic so expansion and contraction will occur depending on the moisture in the air. Before you install your new wood floor, you will want to allow the boards to sit inside your home for at least three days to acclimate to the conditions.

For this project, you will want some basic hardware by your side. The flooring you buy may come with wood glue, or the manufacturer may recommend a brand of glue to use. You'll need a hammer, or a rubber mallet, and a drill. You might also need a pry bar. I recommend a circular saw as well, but a handsaw will also do the job. You'll need a clean, damp rag and knee pads.

Before starting, you want to remove your old flooring, if any, and vacuum the space so it is clean. If there are any low spots, you will want to fill them in so your surface is flat and level. If your room contains any molding, you want to remove that as well. Floating wood floors usually lie on thin sheets of foam or cork underlayment. This serves two purposes. First, it acts as an insulator. Second, it acts as a sound barrier. These layers of foam or cork reduce the sound passed on to the floor below.

Before permanently installing your floor, you will want to dry-fit the first couple of rows. Inspect each piece of flooring before installing it. Starting in one corner of the room, lay out the first row of flooring with the grooved side against the wall. Your flooring should come with ¼-inch spacers. You will want to put these spacers between the flooring strip and the wall. This will establish an expansion area for floor movement. Molding will eventually cover these gaps, so there is no need to worry about how it looks. If the wall is crooked, you will want to scribe the angle of the wall on to the floorboard. Cut along this line to create a board that is parallel to the crooked wall, but perpendicular to the straight one. This will ensure your floor looks straight when you get further along. Cut the last piece of wood to fit while preserving that ¼-inch expansion area. If you are using a handsaw, cut the flooring with the finish side up. If you are using a power saw, cut the flooring with the finish side down. This should reduce the possibility of damaging the finish during the cut. When you start the second row, you might want to start with a "half-piece". You always want to keep a minimum of 12-inches of overlap between the end joints in adjoining rows of boards.

After you finish the first three rows, carefully disassemble the boards to start the gluing. You'll want to begin by gluing the first board in the second row, to the first board in the first row. Apply a generous amount of glue to both the tongue and the groove of the two boards. Use a hammer, or rubber mallet, and a small piece of scrap wood to tap the boards together. The scrap wood will prevent damage to the board when hit by the hammer. The joints should be tight and glue should ooze to the surface. Wipe off any excess glue with a damp cloth. It will be much easier to remove the glue now, than when dried.

The next board you should connect is the second board in the first row, then the second board in the second row and the first board in the third row. You should continue this process, a board in row one, a board in row two and a board in row three, until you reach the end. Repeat these steps, always working three rows at a time, until done. Remember to use your spacers along the walls. The glue should dry for at least six hours before you go ahead and remove the spacers. When you do, install the molding. Predrill all moldings before nailing or screwing to the wall. This will also prevent any damage to the molding.

Wood flooring is no longer a luxury item. With these simple directions, it is no longer a labor intensive one either. Flooring that only professionals once installed, can now be finished by the homeowner. The results will benefit the look and value of your home for many years to come.

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