If you’re considering hardwood floors, you may be asked an unexpected question. How do you want your hardwood installed? The way your hardwood ends up on your floors matters. There are pros and cons to each method, and some factors can limit your installation options. As Dallas flooring installation specialists, Peek‘s can help you learn the ins and outs of the four methods so you can shop smarter.
Know Your Layers
Hardwood installation is about more than flooring. The price of necessities like vapor barriers and plywood can surprise unsuspecting homeowners. Learn your layers so you’ll be able to discuss installation like a pro.
Not all installations require every element, but the basics are:
2. Foam underlayment (floating floors) or radiant heating (engineered hardwood)
3. Plywood subfloor
4. Moisture vapor barrier
5. Concrete subfloor
If your concrete subfloor is uneven, a product called float may be used to smooth it out. Float often isn’t necessary with click-lock flooring and similar styles.
1. Nails: The Classic Method
Nails are the preferred method for solid wood floors that are at least 3/4-inches thick, though thinner planks can be accommodated. When it comes to Dallas flooring installation, nails allow wood flooring to expand and shrink with changes in heat and moisture. This reduces the likelihood of splits and cracking.
You might picture nail-down floors as one or two nails at the top or bottom of each board holding it down like in an old timey saloon. In fact, most of the nails will be hidden in the grooves on the sides of each plank. 2-inch nailing cleats, which have a special shape, attach the planks directly to the subfloor. A few visible screws will be used to establish key anchor points along the way.
Nailing is the best method of installation for solid strip and plank floors that are above grade. They need a plywood subfloor to attach to, though your installer can lay the plywood for you. Because it’s time consuming, nailing can be a little more expensive, but it’s often worth it.
2. Staples: Secure and Inexpensive
Staples are a quicker alternative to nails. A few screws anchor key planks around the outside edge of the flooring. The rest are fastened with staples that hide within the grooves of the floor.
1-1/2 to 2-inch staples are driven into the wood using a pneumatic staple gun. Some manufacturers recommend specific sizes of staples and types of staple guns for their floors. Like nails, staples need a plywood subfloor underneath to fasten to.
Because it’s faster, stapling is often less expensive. However, staples are almost too good at their job. They can fasten floors too securely, not allowing enough room for natural swelling and contracting. This makes staples more suited for softer woods. Dense woods, especially exotics, should never be stapled.
3. Glue Down: For Select Floor Types
With glue-down floors, adhesives or mastics are laid directly on the subfloor to secure your hardwood. With Dallas flooring installation, engineered hardwood being installed above grade can often be glued directly to concrete.
Only engineered hardwood and parquet flooring can be glued down. It’s important that the manufacturer’s recommended adhesive type and trowel size are used to install your hardwood. Not doing so can void warranties.
Gluing is more expensive than stapling, but it comes with some bonuses. Because its core has a different composition, engineered hardwood can sound and “feel” different than solid wood when you walk across it. Gluing makes it sound more like classic hardwood. Gluing is also more secure than nailing, but it still allows for essential expansion and shrinkage.
4. Floating: The Fastest Installation
Floating floors are not mechanically fastened to the subfloor below. Instead, the planks anchor to each other and are fit carefully to the room. Some styles need to be glued together from plank to plank. Other “click-lock” options require no adhesive.
Floating floors can be put both above and below grade, and they can be an excellent option for areas that need maximum moisture control. In most cases, they can be installed right over existing floors. For floating floors that require adhesive, the manufacturer’s recommended adhesive must be used.
Both solid and engineered hardwood are available in “floating” styles. Floating floors are the least expensive to install, go in quickly and can be walked on right away. Floating floors have a distinct sound and feel when walked on that isn’t as “dense” as anchored methods, but they can also have foam underlayments placed underneath. The foam improves moisture tolerance, reduces noise, improves energy efficiency and can be more comfortable to walk on.
If you’re not sure which method would be best for you, come talk to a flooring specialist at Peek‘s. We’ll help you plan your Dallas flooring installation project for success.