What should I expect during my solid hardwood floor install?

April 30, 2018 - 8:37pm

Sometimes it seems we should say expect the unexpected.    We are currently remodeling our showroom to display updated samples of both solid and engineered hardwood floors.  The unexpected that came up with this job was working around other jobs, a water leak and remaining open for business.  This helped give us a reminder of solid hardwood floor installation from the consumer side.  

When we are asked about the steps and timeline of installing hardwood floors we struggle to give a quick answer.  The style of wood, square footage and the layout where it will be installed all factor into the estimated timeline.  Things go as planned on our jobs more often than not, but the unknown factors can slow the process down.  Some examples are not knowing what is under the existing floor, floors laid under cabinets in kitchens, water leaks and the weather affecting drying time.  So below are the six basic steps in the installation with pictures from our remodel starting with the before picture.  While the before hardwood floors were beautiful, we wanted to display updated wood widths, grades, and new stain choices.  

1. Prepare the surface.  

Solid hardwood must be nailed down to a subfloor/plywood.  If we are replacing the floor, we have to make sure all the previous glue and flooring is removed.  On a new install, we often have to float the floor to make sure the surface is level.  The remodel just removed part of the hardwood and tightened up the plywood.

2. Install the wood.  This includes time for acclimation. Each installation must be measured and laid in a way to flow through the house or office. With our pattern decided, the floor is marked with lines to make sure every layout remains straight.

The planks are set to overlap any cut lines with the herringbone pattern, then cut carefully to achieve the straight lines.  Even Maggie approves the finish cut. 

On plank floors, each bundle has a variety of boards and some with varied widths. So a plan needs to be created to achieve a random look. Our installation tried to provide border options, hand scraping, and different lay patterns to show ideas for your home or office.  

3. Sand the floor.  The wood needs to be prepared to take the stain as well as leveled to a smooth surface. We taped off the other part of the showroom to minimize the dust then rough sanded the hardwood we did not replace.  Wood filler was applied to fill any cracks then the entire floor was sanded.  The special welcome inlay and the edges were hand sanded.

4. Clean the floor.  After the sanding, there is a fine layer of dust even with bags on the machines and the most careful job. Those particles can cause trouble with the stain application. The job was done with a vacuum and tack rags.

5. Stain the floor.  The stain is applied by hand with rags, we used both dry and wet wipe application on different sections to show stain intensity. The applications are reassessed after drying to do any touch up before the finish is applied.

6. Apply the finish product.  The finish is usually a polyurethane product that needs at least two coats to protect your floor. It is screened between coats to get rid of any imperfections.

So how long does all this take? In a perfect world the floors are prepared and laid in a couple of days, sanding and staining completed in one to two days, and the finish a minimum of two days with another 24 hours before it can be walked on.  Size of the project, lots of cuts and turns in the room, and unforeseen problems can all add more days. We think the final product was worth the wait.  We have ten new hardwood floor displays, several new color stains and a better variety of wood grades.  Next month we will have some engineered hardwood floors, both finished and unfinished products, to show off.  Come in to check them out or check back for our pictures.  Please contact us with any questions.