A Home Remodel Series (Part 4-How to install wood flooring)

The finished project

Continuing our series on following the progress at my friend’s home remodel, part of their wood flooring in the dining room had been damaged by a water leak from the adjacent kitchen.

See what all we are covering in this series by clicking the link below:

http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/04/27/a-home-remodel-series-part-1-before-demo/

Wood floors add a lot of warmth and character to any room.  They are exceptionally durable and a good quality wood floor is meant to last for years and years.  Unfortunately, in the case of my friend’s home,  wood and water do not agree and the resulting buckled wood flooring was not salvageable.

Wood floors damaged by water leak

There are several different types and quality of wood floors to choose from.  Floating, glue down, laminate with costs varying with quality, type of wood, etc.   My friend opted for a tongue and groove glue down and it was a nice hand scraped oak; she found it on sale from a local flooring liquidator for $3 psf.

Here are the steps to remove and replace the wood flooring:

1)  Demo and remove old flooring.

This is a task that requires some patience and muscle.  Keep in mind, what went down was not meant to come up for a long time, if ever.  Using a floor scraper or pry bar, you remove piece by piece by scraping at the edges.  You can also use a chisel and hammer to pop up stubborn pieces.

2) Float

Once the old flooring material has been removed, you are likely left with somewhat of an imperfect surface and new wood floors need a smooth, even surface to be adhered to.  There are floor float mixtures available at most flooring/home improvement stores.  Following the manufacturers directions, you basically pour the mixture out across the floor in puddles that resemble a large pancake and it self-levels.  Another consideration is that in some climates, the concrete sub-floor may be too moist; a good moisture sealer may also be necessary.

Let the floor float  completely dry before proceeding.

3)  Developing a plan for your new flooring

Two common questions come up when installing hardwood flooring:  a) Where do I start in the room? and b) what is the pattern I should use?

a)  Start with the wall that is opposite of an adjoining room or entry.  Many homes are unfortunately built with walls “out of square”; I don’t think this is intentional, but hey, even pros make some mistakes.   Check the square of the wall using a level to know how much, if any, your first row may need to be adjusted to ensure the flooring is laid square.   Use 1/2″ spacers to provide enough room between the new floors and the wall; as floors are exposed to different climate conditions, they will expand and contract and the extra space keeps the floor from buckling if they expand.  This gap will later be covered with a quarter round wood trim piece.

b)  I always recommend to lay the flooring in the same flow as your front door.  The front of your house usually has nice and bright windows and you want the light to fall in line with the grain of the floor, not against it.  If you don’t lay the floor in line with the front door, when the light reflects it, it will look like a ladder.

4)     Glue down new flooring

5 gallon buckets of flooring adhesive are available at the flooring/home improvement stores.  Using a fine tooth trowel, spread the glue down in even sections.  In the case of my friend’s floors, they were tongue and groove which means that each piece fits together with the adjacent piece like a puzzle.

Speaking of puzzles, as each row is laid, you want to vary the pattern of the pieces by cutting different lengths at the ends of each row.  I use a rule of thumb not to repeat until every 5th row; this way, you won’t see an obvious pattern when the wood pieces adjoin each other.

5)  The finishing details

Once the area is covered to your liking, you will cover the gap leftover around the entire diameter of the room with quarter round.  The corners can be cut with a miter saw or handsaw using a miter box guide to ensure all cuts are made at 45 degree angles so they will form nice corners.  It is personal preference whether the quarter round should be stained to match your new floors or painted to match your base trims.

If you are transitioning from one room to another and different flooring materials (i.e. wood to carpet or wood to tile), there are many pre-stained transition strips available that can be cut to fit.

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