Hardwood Flooring: Types And Installation

(Last Updated On: February 22, 2017)
Types of hardwood flooring
Different types of hardwood flooring

There are plenty of flooring options available in today’s time like carpet, laminate, ceramic, tile, vinyl and many more but the warmth and beauty of Hardwood flooring cannot be compared with any other type of flooring. The popularity of Hardwood flooring is increasing and is now considered as one of the most durable choices worldwide specially with the Prefinished Hardwood flooring installation. Certain Prefinished Hardwood flooring comes with 50 years of manufacturer’s warranty. If you have some basic carpentry skills then it’s really a DIY (do-it-yourself) job for you to install it. Due to DIY installation, the overall Hardwood flooring cost for your home goes down. Hardwood flooring can be used in any of the rooms of your home but installing it in kitchen is trending in now a days. If you are opting for Hardwood floor installation on concrete slab or if you are having a height issue then use 3/8 materials as they are thinner.

When you think about Hardwood flooring, you always have an idea about unfinished floors which you have to sand and give it an even finish. But you are also available with the option of installing Prefinished flooring. There are plenty of choices in wood flooring but when we are talking about specific Hardwood flooring then you have two options to go for:

  • Solid wood flooring and
  • Engineered wood flooring

Traditional Solid wood flooring is just what you expect; every floorboard is milled from one piece of solid wood. Whereas Engineered wood flooring is an entirely wood laminated plank which is produced from the pieces of wood.

Both types of flooring come in huge range of variety of wood species and colors. The final style and type which you will ultimately choose depends on several factors like Hardwood flooring price, size of floorboards, Hardwood flooring installation, type of subfloor, wood species, Hardwood flooring cost per square foot and of course the room itself. Here’s a detailed explanation about each of the Hardwood flooring types.

Hardwood flooring types

  • Solid Hardwood flooring

Solid Hardwood flooring is usually available in narrow strips, parquet squares and wide planks. Strip flooring is considered to be traditional and most popular among all. The strips are generally 1-1/2  and 3 inches wide whereas plank commonly range from 3 to 7 inches wide and are most favorably installed in wide open spaces and larger rooms. Parquet flooring is generally available in pre-assembled tiles or custom made style which is produced from individual wood strips. Parquet is considered to be perfect for creating eye catching weaves, geometric shapes and herringbone patterns. All of the above solid Hardwood flooring comes in either Prefinished or unfinished manner and its thickness lies between 5/16 inches to ¾ inches.

Most of the homeowners go for choosing unfinished Hardwood strip flooring in either maple or red oak as they are really affordable to make alongwith offering attractive look. Here, they are also available with the option of choosing the stain color or leaving it natural. However, when you go for choosing unfinished wood then you need to put extra effort for  sanding it, staining it, if you desire, and giving it a clear top coat finish.

You can also choose to have Prefinished solid Hardwood flooring but it will cost you more as compared to that of unfinished Hardwood flooring. But the benefit is that they don’t need sanding or finishing. As soon as you are done with the installation of the last plank, you can nail the baseboard trim and carry the furniture in. Prefinished flooring is also available in thinner planks which creates less amount of trouble when shifting things from one room to other.

If you think that wood is a renewable resource and its fine to choose it for flooring then you must know that certain species of wood take so long to grow and they are being harvested so quickly that they are now no longer considered to be sustainable. To make sure that you are buying properly harvested wood, ensure that it has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or any such environmental agency.

  • Engineered Hardwood flooring

Engineered Hardwood flooring was introduced in the mid-1980s in North America and it soon became the most famous type of DIY (do-it-yourself) Hardwood Flooring. It consists of three or more wood layers which are glued together in long planks with a top layer which is composed of a thin solid wood veneer. This laminated structure creates a floor which is much more stable as compared to that of solid Hardwood flooring. Because of this, Engineered Hardwood flooring has a very less chance of split, shrink or warp. There are more than two dozen of wood species from which you can choose including both Hardwood and softwood.

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Most of the engineered wood flooring is 3 to 7 inches wide and is 7 to 8 feet long. Their thickness ranges between 3/8 inches to ¾ inches. Majority of the engineered Hardwood flooring are Prefinished but in some areas you can also find unfinished Engineered wood planks.

When you are shopping for Engineered Hardwood flooring, make sure that the top veneer is at least 1/8 inches thick which allows the refinishing and sanding if it is necessary to do so. You will find that flooring generally comes in three basic styles – one, two and three strip planks. This refers to the number of veneer strips which is visible on the top layer. One strip plank resembles a single wide board. Two strip plank is just similar to the narrow floorboards and the three strip plank looks just like traditional Hardwood strip floor. Every single plank appears to look like three narrow boards.

The main reason why people love Engineered Hardwood flooring is that the plank always snaps together and they float over a thin foam-rubber underlayment. There is no issue of nailing or gluing and thus the Hardwood flooring installing is easy, neat and quick. Apart from this, the planks can also be laid directly over the most exciting floors as long as the surface is flat, hard and in proper condition.

Both types of Hardwood flooring are good in their own way and both have some pros and cons of their own. It depends upon your choice and your needs as to which type of Hardwood flooring you want to opt for.  Once you have decided as to which type of Hardwood floor you want to install in your home, it’s time for hardwood flooring installation. If you are a handy person and are good with using the equipment’s then you must go for DIY or the do-it-yourself Hardwood flooring installation and save some bucks. Here’s an easy step wise method of Hardwood flooring installation.

Hardwood flooring installation

  • Preparing your Hardwood flooring

Steps for Installing-hardwood-flooring
DIY method for installing hardwood flooring

Installing Hardwood flooring is a major and expensive home improvement project and you definitely want a qualitative and durable result out of it. The key to have a proper installation is proper preparation. Before starting with the installation process, you need to gather all the Hardwood flooring installation tools and materials. When you want to install Hardwood floors at your home, you need your flooring surface to be smooth, clean, leveled and structurally sound. Depending upon your current floors, this surface can be anything like existing wood floor in good condition or new plywood subfloor or previous floor covering or even moisture resistant concrete slab. Installing wood floors over your existing flooring will save you from the messy job of removing the old flooring and you get instant soundproofing and insulation from the older floors. One of the disadvantages of leaving older floors is that you have to correct any irregularities or any issues in them. Another disadvantage is that the new floor will raise the level of the flooring making the transition of passing from that room to any other adjoining room awkward.

  • Removing doors and base molding

Despite of the fact whether you are removing old floors or not, the foremost and compulsory step for installing Hardwood floors in your house is to remove base shoe moldings and doors. Don’t forget to number the pieces of molding so that there is ease in replacing them when you are finished with the installing work. Make sure that the condition and the use of the room will not have a negative impact on the flooring while installation of Hardwood flooring. Extreme foot traffic on a newly installed floor or even too much high temperature or humidity swings can deteriorate the quality of wood flooring or even ruin the whole look of your wood flooring. Appropriate preparation will depend upon the type of flooring you want to install and the condition of the base which is beneath it.

  • Preparation of sub floor for Hardwood flooring

Generally, majority of the wood flooring goes on typically raised wood framed subfloor which is surfaced with OSB (oriented strand board) or plywood subflooring panels. Make sure that the subfloor is dry, flat, clean, squeak free, structurally sound and clear of any of the fasteners or surface bumps. Make use of a long and straight board and also a carpenter’s level for checking if there are any dips and rises. If there are any bumps then sand it down and fill up all the dips with leveling compound. Reseat if you see any raised fasteners and screw down all the squeaky spots by using 1 ½ inch screws. For preventing ground moisture humidity from rising in the room and negatively affecting your floor, the crawlspace under the raised floor must be at least 18 inches high and it should be properly vented with 1.5 square feet of vent area for an area of 100 square feet of crawlspace. Cover whole ground area with 6 mil black polyethylene which should overlap the sheets and then tap them together. Don’t forget to extend the material up to 6 inches of the concrete foundation wall and tape it in that place.

  • Hardwood flooring on concrete slab

Hardwood floors can be installed on an above ground concrete slab but the slab must be at least 60 days old and dry and it must be moisture tested professionally. The slab should be compulsorily flat without any high spot or low spot and it should also have a trowel finish which should be clean.

  • Before Hardwood flooring is delivered

The condition of your home must be appropriate for Hardwood flooring installation before even the material is delivered to your home. When there is remodeling of home, then also wood flooring installation is the last installation in the remodel process. This is to avoid any kind of physical damage to the surface. Make sure it is installed only after all the construction work has been completed and there is nothing left which can sit on the surface of the Hardwood flooring.

  • Heat and humidity affecting Hardwood flooring

Wood flooring and specifically solid wood flooring is extremely susceptible to moisture issues. Wood flooring must be allowed to adjust to the normal humidity level of the house before installation so that any kind of contraction or expansion is prevented which can spoil the final job. Remove all the packaging and keep the wood for some days in the room where it is going to be installed. Don’t store it in the exterior patio or garage. Anything which artificially controls the humidity level of the room where the wood floors are going to be installed must also be taken care of. For example the home must be kept fully closed and air conditioning and heating systems must be used at very normal levels. All the concrete and plastering work, texturing and painting must be finished and even dried so that excessive moisture is avoided.

  • Preparation of Hardwood flooring layout

Know the direction of the floor joist1 which supports the subfloor and then plan to install the floor perpendicular to them. This is not imperative but it is usually the best practice. Start the installation with the longest and most visible straight wall of the room. Know the position of the floor joist and mark them on the wall where its base moldings will hide the marks later. Roll out 15 pounds of asphalt laminated with Kraft paper flooring to give a vapor barrier and reduce the floor noise. Overlap the edges of the Kraft paper three inches. Take a utility knife and trim the paper around the objects like fireplace hearth. After that, fasten the underlayment to the subfloor by using a staple gun. At both ends of the long walls, mark 48 inches towards the room with a pencil and then snap a chalk line between the marks for guidelines. This line must be exactly parallel to walls to make sure floorboards are in alignments while you work your way across the floor installing them. Starting from this mark, take measurement to the opposite wall parallel to it. If it is not parallel, your flooring will also not be parallel and you need to adjust your guideline slightly.

  • Laying the first row of Hardwood flooring

You need to choose very straight boards for the first three rows. After that, start cutting one starter board for each row. The boards must vary in length at least 6 inches in measurement so that the end joist will get staggered by at least 6 inches from each row. The tongue of first row of boards should be faced away from the wall and then the boards should be dry fitted in its place. Make use of ½ spacers to the base of the wall for providing an expansion gap between the wall and the flooring. This gap will not be seen after installing the base molding.

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Use a measure tape for measuring the guidelines from the board’s edge and double check that it is having the same distance at both the ends. Hold the board in its place and then top nail it to the subfloor with a measurement of 1 ½ inch finishing nails which is placed about 3 inches from the end of the board and approximately ½ inch from the edges at an interval of 6 inches. Set this heads below the surface by using a nail set. Install all the boards in the first row only. Fit a board for second row for the groove interlocking tightly with the tongue of first row. Make use of a tapping block or even a small piece of flooring for protecting the tongue and then tap the second row boards tightly against the first row. Blind nail through the tongue from the end of each board through the subfloor into floor joist. Keep on doing this till you reach the second and third row and then fit the nailer in its place. You can do this with the help of a nail set or a hammer or a drill or by your hand.

  • Completing a Hardwood floor installation

The last stage of Hardwood flooring installation is to dry five to six rows of floors, sorting it and position the boards for a great appearance and pattern. Don’t forget to stagger the last joints by at minimum 6 inches. Cut the boards at the end of each row to fit it. Take out any of the loose row and then begin the process of blind nailing. If possible do it with a pneumatic floor nailer. If the floor nailer is not having a protective plastic boot to prevent the floor from scratching then cover its metal base by using masking tape.

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When you are done with the installation of Hardwood flooring, ensure there are no loose ends around. If you want this beautiful Hardwood flooring to last long and wish to give your home this warmth and gorgeous look for a long time, then, you need to pay focus on its maintenance. Maintaining Hardwood flooring after its installation is also one of the essential things to be taken into consideration. If you are having prefinished Hardwood flooring then maintenance part is bit easy unlike unfinished Hardwood flooring. But however you should always keep the grit off your surface for maintaining your floor. Other things to be done for maintaining your Hardwood flooring is to sweep your floor regularly or you can use a floor cleaning kit and spray it on your floor and wipe it with damp cloth. Doing this much will be enough for maintaining your Hardwood flooring.


  1. Floor joist – Floor joist is very essential part of the support structure of your flooring. they are generally installed to hold up the weight of the
    floor-joist-installation in home

    building and it absorbs the impact on the floor and it also avails the flooring with structural support so that the flooring remains structurally stable and secure.It is installed in the initial stage of building process and it is installed under the flooring where people walk on.

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