Hardwood Flooring Pre-Installation Considerations

There are many things to consider when installing hardwood flooring. We have outlined the top 4 things you should think about before making your decision.

Choose the appropriate type of hardwood flooring

Not all flooring types are right for all situations. A simple rule of thumb is… do not install solid hardwood below grade (ground level). Engineered hardwood is best suited for installation below grade. Also, the wider the board, the more movement the floor may have. Wide planks look great but it is important to talk to your installer to ensure they will perform well in your home.

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Choose a species of hardwood that is going to perform best

Some species are harder than others and some are more dimensionally stable than others. A more active home may want to avoid softer woods like American Cherry, Walnut or Pine, and a home on the water may not be suitable for solid Hickory or Maple since they tend to be less stable in humid locations.

Look for areas of potential moisture

Wood is hygroscopic, which means it readily receives and releases moisture. The most common source of moisture is what’s beneath the flooring. If the wood is to be installed over a crawl space, the ground needs to be 100% covered by a 6 mil black plastic sheet to prevent moisture vapor from rising into the floor. If you are installing over a concrete slab, make sure the slab is dry and not producing more than 3 lbs./24 hours/1,000 sq. ft. (ASTM F-1869) or 75% RH (ASTM 2170). Click here to read more about preparing your home for hardwood floors.

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Acclimate the flooring to “living conditions”

Prior to the wood being installed in the home, it needs to be in the current living condition. This means that the HVAC is operational and all wet work (paint, drywall, etc…) is complete. You want to have a relative humidity reading between 35% and 55% before, during and after installation. The acclimation period is subjective to flooring type, species and width. The best way to tell if the flooring is ready to be installed is to test the moisture content of the flooring and the subfloor. You do not want to see a variation greater than 2% for solid plank or 4% for solid strip. It is always best to refer to the manufacturer’s installation instructions prior to installation. Click here to read more about acclimating hardwood floors.

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