Eliminating Common Installation Mistakes

When installing hardwood flooring, make sure you do your homework and avoid these common mistakes.

The decision to install natural and attractive hardwood floors in your home is a great choice. It not only makes a beautiful addition to your home, it can also increase its resale value. Macon Hardwood offers numerous species and finishes of hardwood floors, but no matter which material you choose, it is essential that your floors are installed correctly.

Many big box hardware stores make DIY look easy and YouTube videos imply installation is simple enough for amateurs to tackle. It is true that laying wood floors it not rocket science, but there is still a lot that can go wrong. The good news is that most of these problems are preventable.

When installing hardwood flooring, make sure you do your homework and avoid these common mistakes.

  • Not Checking Moisture: Because wood is a natural material, it is susceptible to changing shape as the humidity level changes. Most problems come from too much moisture in the wood. Before installing hardwood floors, use a moisture meter to measure the moisture content in the flooring and in the subfloor. You should look for a balanced reading between the flooring and the subfloor. They should be between 4 percentage points of each other, or if the planks are wider than 3 inches, 2 percent. Additionally, the environment at the job site should be at “normal living conditions” in order to make sure that once you install floors that are tight and flat, they will remain tight and flat.
  • Not Preparing the Subfloor: If the subfloor is not properly prepared you could end up with floors that are squeaky, loose, or furniture that shakes when you walk by. The industry mantra is subfloors should be “clean, flat, and dry.” Checking the moisture content of the flooring, subfloor, and environment will take care of the “dry” part. “Clean” means that the subfloor is free of any construction debris, and “flat” means that the subfloor is within the most recent industry standards: generally ¼ inch in 10 feet or 3/16 in in 6 feet. Additionally to the “clean, flat, and dry” mantra, you should make sure that the subfloor is “appropriate.” Many problems arise because the subfloor is inappropriate for the wood flooring installed. For example, most solid wood floors are not recommended for installation directly on slabs, and particleboard is inappropriate for almost any wood flooring.
  • Not Planning the Layout: Everyone knows that most rooms in a house are not perfectly square. This is the reason every installer should take the time to measure, plan, and determine what looks best in the places where it will be most visible. Avoid simply measuring an equal distance off two ends of a wall, snapping a line, and starting installing floors. This can end with awkward and unprofessional look. Instead snap your starting lines along the longest , most continuous run of flooring in the house, then use trammel points, 3-4-5 triangles to transfer those lines to adjoining rooms.
  • Not Leaving an Expansion Gap: Wood will naturally expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity levels. A common mistake when installing hardwood flooring is to not leave a big enough expansion gap between the planks and the walls to account for the changing environment.
  • Not Nailing Enough: Not putting enough fasteners in the floor is another common problem that leads to loose boards, causing them to move and make noise. The basic rules for fasteners include the following: Every board must have at least two fasteners, there should be a fastener 1 to 3 inches from each board end, and for standard flooring, fasteners spacing should be every 8 to 10 inches.

If you avoid these common installation mistakes, you will go a long way toward ensuring the beauty of your new hardwood flooring and protecting your investment for years to come.