Floating Engineered Hardwood Installation
NOTE: The tips provided here are only intended to guide your installation. You should ALWAYS follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
A floating engineered hardwood is installed much like a laminate and can be floated over a variety of subfloors, including concrete, wood, tile and vinyl. Before you start piecing these planks together, you must prepare your room and the subfloor.
Preparing the Room
When your wood arrives, it’s up to you to properly prepare it for installation. This involves acclimatizing it to the room where it will live. Here’s how:
- Turn on the heater or air conditioner at least five days before installation. Keep the room between 60 degrees and 80 degrees with a constant humidity level between 35% and 65%.
- Place the wood in an acclimated climate controlled room for at least 48 hours before installation. Do not open the boxes until you’re ready to install.
- Stack the wood flat. Do not stand the boxes up on their sides or ends.
- Store boxes in the center of the room. Do not store boxes on concrete or next to outside walls.
- Only install the flooring after all other major projects are finished and all the “wet” projects (cement, paint, drywall, etc.) are completely dry.
- Wait at least 60 days after curing concrete
- Check the moisture content of the room and the subfloor. There should not be anymore than a 4% difference between the room and the existing wood subfloor.
- Undercut all doorways and remove the base moldings.
Preparing Your Subfloor
The subfloor acts as the foundation for your wood. If you want to have a successful installation and long life for your new flooring, you must prepare the subfloor prior to installing the new wood. Here’s how:
- Clean the subfloor of any wax, grease, paint, or debris.
- Smooth the flooring so that it is completely flat throughout the room. If you notice any dents or humps, fill or sand them before installing your floors.
- To check for uneven areas, you can use string or a 6-8 ft. wood beam with a straight edge, to find high points and low points on your subfloor.
- Walk across the floor to reveal any loose or squeaky areas.
- Test the moisture content in the subfloor to ensure it is dry enough for the flooring.
For more details about how to prepare your subfloor, check out our guides for preparing a wood subfloor and preparing a cement subfloor.
If you’re installing your hardwood floors over radiant heated subfloors, check the manufacturer’s warranty to make sure your specific flooring is approved for this type of installation. Be aware that you will likely experience minor gapping between the planks during the months when you heat your flooring. To minimize expansion and contraction, monitor the moisture levels closely. Here are a few guidelines to follow:
- New water type radiant heated floors must be operational at least four weeks before installation to ensure the subfloor has had adequate time to dry. Keep it set between 64 degrees and 72 degrees during this time.
- If your water type radiant heater is older, turn it on at least four days before installation and set it to at least 64 degrees.
- Measure your subfloor to ensure that it has less than 12 percent moisture content.
- If your subfloor is cement, it must register as “dry.”
- Consistently regulate the job site so that moisture stays between 35% and 65%.
- After installing your floors, keep the radiant heat settings the same for a minimum of 48 hours.
Before you begin your installation, gather all of the necessary tools and equipment.
- Electric saw
- Eye and ear protection
- Glue (Wood-floor specific)
- Painter’s Tape
- Chalk Line
- Pull bar and Tapping Block
- Tape measure
- Utility knife
- Wood chisel
- Underlayment with Vapor Barrier
- Finishing Moldings and Transitions
Before you begin installation, inspect each plank for damage. If you have any concerns, call your dealer before installing. You will want to work out of several boxes to get a uniformed look across your floors.
The following is a general guide for how most click engineered hardwood floors are installed. These floors are installed in a similar fashion as laminate flooring making them well-suited for DIY installers. Be sure to always follow your manufacturer’s directions .
- After subfloor is prepared properly, install you underlayment per manufacturer directions. We recommend using an underlayment with vapor barrier.
- Being to establish the pattern of your floor, utilizing planks from several boxes. You will want to install handscraped and beveled edge hardwood flooring length wise to natural light – this will eliminate the “railroad track” look between edges when light hits.
- Place the ¼” inch spacer against the installation wall int he left corner. Use these spacers throughout the perimeter to allow for the expansion gap.
- Start your first row with planks having the groove side facing the starting wall.
- Apply a small bead of glue to the inside, bottom of the plank ends when connecting boards. Tape the seams for secure drying and adhesion.
- End the first row by cutting the last plank to size and leaving a 1/2″ expansion gap. You will need to use a pull bar to tap the edges together.
- Start assembling the second row with a shorter board to stagger edges.
- Apply a small amount of adhesive to the bottom groove of the planks. You will need to glue all of the seams in this installation. Any adhesive that gets on the surface can be wiped away with a damp cloth.
- Lift the planks up just a few inches, angle the board at a 45 degree angle so the tongue and groove fit into place and tap along each joint with your tapping block and hammer, ensuring that the planks lay flat.
- Insert the planks from left to right to replace the first row. Don’t forget to glue the end seams.
- For planks that need to be cut, place the plank upside down and use a pencil to mark where the cut should be made. Don’t forget to take the expansion gap into consideration.
- Use the cut pieces from the previous row to start a new row. This will help give your room a staggered pattern look and better joint support.
- Continue to connect the planks by aligning the end seam of each plank directly over the previous plank.
When your flooring is done being installed, finish your room with moldings, trim, or transition pieces.
Moldings should be acclimated along with your flooring, at least 48 hours before you install. Predrill any moldings that require nails or screws to avoid splitting. For details about installing moldings and trim, check out our installation tips here.
That’s it! The process might seem complex, but with this DIY guide, your manufacturer’s instructions, and perhaps a little bit of help from a professional contractor, you’ll have great looking floors for years to come.