Today prefinished hardwood flooring is beautiful, durable, and a great investment for any home. These installation instructions go over the essential things you’ll need to know during your prefinished hardwood installation.

Hardwood Installation Methods

You can install prefinished hardwood flooring with one of these methods:

  1. Glue Down – For solid hardwood above wood or concrete subfloors.
  2. Nail/Staple – For solid and engineered hardwood above wood subfloors or above concrete subfloors overlaid with a plywood underlayment.
  3. Click Lock Floating – For engineered click lock flooring above wood or concrete subfloors.
  4. Engineered Floating – For engineered hardwood above wood or concrete subfloors.

Tools and Materials

You will need most of the general tools and materials plus anything specific for your installation method.

  • 4′ or 6′ level
  • Broom
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Chalk line
  • Crow, pull bar and/or power bar
  • Electric and/or hand saw with carbide tipped blade
  • Hammer
  • Jig saw
  • Safety goggles and mask
  • Soft rubber mallet and/or white tipped mallet
  • Spacers for expansion gaps
  • Tape measure
  • Tapping block or clean piece of scrap wood
  • Utility knife
  • Utility towels

Extra Tools for Glue Down Installation

  • ¼” square notch trowel (for planks 5″ or wider)
  • 3/16″ notched trowel (for planks 5″ or less)
  • Blue painters tape and/or ratchet straps
  • Flooring adhesive
  • Flooring adhesive remover
  • Weighted items (books, buckets of glue) to weigh down areas of the floor

Extra Tools for Nail/Staple Installation

  • Electric drill (to predrill nail holes)
  • Nail punch
  • Staple or nail gun
  • Staples or nails
  • Pliers
  • Wire Cutters

Extra Tools for Floating Engineered Installation

  • Adhesive remover
  • Tongue and groove adhesive

Hardwood Installation Arear

Prefinished hardwood flooring can be installed in areas that are Above Grade or On Grade over these types of subfloors:

  • Wood subfloors (plywood or OSB). Do not install above a particle board subfloor.
  • Wood subfloors must be structurally sound and free from movement.
  • Concrete subfloors. Concrete should be at least 30 days old and pass all moisture tests.
  • Radiant heating systems, if approved by the flooring manufacturer.
  • Existing tile, porous stone, hardwood, bamboo and vinyl.

Prefinished hardwood should NOT be installed in Below Grade areas (such as basements) unless specifically approved by the manufacturer due to the excess moisture typical in these areas.

Installation Basics

  • Install your hardwood parallel to incoming light. In narrow rooms, install so the flooring runs parallel to the longest wall. For added stability, install hardwood perpendicular to floor joists.
  • Never store your hardwood in direct sunlight or in the garage. Keep your hardwood flooring away from outside walls, doors, windows and air vents.
  • During installation, always leave at least a ½” expansion/contraction perimeter around the room. More expansion/contraction area may be required for large room installations or if you live in a humid area. Consult your flooring manufacturer or retailer.
  • Always use an underlayment. Cork, standard foam, combination foam/film and upgraded foam are all good choices.
  • Install a moisture barrier (6mm polyethylene/plastic sheeting) between your subfloor and hardwood, especially if you are installing above a concrete slab or you live in a humid area.
  • Calculate the number of rows of hardwood you’ll need to complete your floor. If your first and last row are very different widths (for example, your first row is 3″ and your last row is less an 1″) re-calculate so that these rows are more equal.
  • You may need to scribe fit your first and last row to match the wall contours to ensure your hardwood floor goes down straight even if your walls are not.
  • Stagger all joints 2-3 times the width of the plank for an even looking floor. Avoid H-joints.
  • When starting all new rows, follow the manufacturer’s re