7 Smooth Tips for Installing Engineered Hardwoods

engineered wood floor installed in home

Do-it-yourself engineered hardwood floor installation is just one perk of this stunning and durable wood flooring. Engineered wood flooring also adds value and beauty to a home, can handle heavy foot and paw traffic, and is easy to keep looking like the day it was installed. (Find a full list of the pros and cons of engineered hardwoods here.)

As great as these floors are, installing engineered hardwood floors is a home project that can go hard or go easy—especially with these tips. A bit of research and preparation gets homeowners one step closer to enjoying these beautiful floors.   

Choose the method of installation.

Engineered hardwood floors can be nailed down, glued down, or installed as a floating floor. The latter is the most popular method among DIYers because it does not involve any glue or nails. It is not always the best way to install engineered hardwoods, however; talk to a flooring professional to choose the best way to install these floors.

Always bring flooring inside 3-4 days before the install.

For best results, hardwood engineered flooring needs to be brought into the home (preferably in the room of install) to acclimate to the home 3-4 days before installing flooring. The flooring can be kept in boxes or taken out. Skipping this important step can lead to buckling, cupping, shrinking or expanding. Basically, laying down floors without acclimation can make it so the flooring needs to be removed and installed again.

Do necessary surface prep.

Before laying down any boards, the surface should be cleaned and prepped for hardwood engineered flooring installation. Subflooring should be secured so there is no squeaking. If there is any rotted or damaged subflooring, boards should be removed and replaced. Staples need to be removed and any imperfections should be evened out. Doorways may need to be trimmed up. Tackling all of these preps before starting the project makes the actual installation go smoother.

Make sure you have the correct underlayment.

Some engineered hardwoods require an underlayment over the subfloor or concrete floor; it is the DIYer’s job to know what underlayment is recommended by the manufacturer. If the underlayment is not put down, the manufacturer may consider the warranty voided.

Know the amount of space needed between the floor and wall.

An expansion gap is one of the most important parts of installing engineered hardwoods. Because engineered wood floors are wood, the floors are prone to shrinking and expanding with changes in humidity and indoor conditions. A gap between the floor and wall allows for movement in the flooring, and can easily be added by putting spacers around the edge during installation. If the flooring is installed tight to the wall, the floors can buckle or cup and be permanently damaged.

Read up for manufacturer specifications.

There are some key differences in installations of engineered wood floor products. The size of the expansion gap and whether the boards should be tapped down with a mallet are two notable differences. Always read through manufacturer instructions to avoid any warranty issues.

Always order extra boards.

Even the best DIYers may need extra engineered hardwood boards during installation. When buying the engineered hardwoods, ask the professionals what percentage of boards should be purchased for installation.

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