Installing Wood Flooring: How To Install a Wood Floor

Wood Floor in Traditional Style Living Room

Although wood flooring is generally more expensive to buy and install than carpet or vinyl, it should last for decades. You'll find a number of wood floor options from which to choose.

Projects in Wood Floors

Beautiful choices
Solid wood flooring is made from one continuous piece of solid wood, typically measuring 3/4 inch thick. Wood strips are anywhere from 1-1/2 inches to about 2-1/4 inches wide. Planks are wider than 2-1/4 inches. Most strip and plank flooring is milled with tongue-and-groove edges so boards will fit together, but some planks are flat-edged for a more rustic look. Wood strips or planks are generally nailed to the subfloor.

Engineered wood flooring is made from layers of wood stacked and glued together under heat and pressure. There are usually three or five layers stacked with grains running perpendicular to each other. All wood expands and contracts with heat and humidity, but engineered wood is more dimensionally stable because the layers keep the movement in balance. Because it is less inclined to swell and shrink, engineered wood can be laid in areas where solid wood cannot, such as over concrete or in high-moisture areas. Engineered wood flooring comes in types that are nailed or glued to the subfloor or glued edge-to-edge (tongue-and-groove). Engineered wood floors are also available that simply click together.

Parquet floors are made from custom-crafted wood tiles that are used to create a patterned floor. Parquet tiles are generally glued down to install.

Features to consider
A factory finish -- usually four or more coats of ultraviolet-cured urethane resins -- is one that the manufacturer applies at the plant. Because the finish is applied under strict environmental controls, manufacturers say it is more consistent and durable. Factory-finished floors can be installed right out of the box, making them stress-free when you are living in a house as the floors are being replaced. There are many different stain colors and finishes from which to choose.

Onsite finishing allows the builder to custom-fit and finish your floor to the space. Many flooring professionals maintain that the smoothest finish can be achieved by sanding and finishing a floor onsite. Custom finishing gives more versatility in colors too. You do have to put up with the messy and time-consuming tasks of repeated sandings and finish applications.

One Hour or Less

Three simple projects to cross off of your to-do list -- just print these instructions and begin!