It's difficult to properly install hardwood flooring without professional assistance - but not impossible. It is certainly not a project for beginners, but if you have experience with other DIY home improvement projects, you might be up to the task. We strongly recommend you follow the National Wood Flooring Association Installation Guidelines for hardwood flooring, and don't hesitate to call a professional if you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with any part of the installation process.
That being said, we have five helpful tips you should definitely know before beginning any hardwood flooring installation project. This is by no means a complete installation plan, but a few things to keep in mind during the process. Enjoy, and good luck!
1. Adjust your home's humidity.
Hardwood flooring reacts negatively to poorly regulated indoor climates. This is especially true for solid hardwood flooring materials. It's important to make sure the humidity levels in your home are at an appropriate level and are regulated year round. Drastic changes in temperature and humidity can cause your wood floors to bend, buckle, and warp.
2. Acclimate, acclimate, acclimate!
Properly acclimating your hardwood flooring materials to their environment is one of the most important parts of the installation process. You should use moisture testing equipment to determine when your boards have reached acceptable ranges of moisture content. These levels vary depending on your geographical region and your subflooring. Acclimation times vary, but plan on waiting 2 - 3 weeks before you can start installation.
3. Inspect your subfloor.
Installing hardwood over shoddy subfloor can ruin your floors almost immediately. Make sure your floor is flat, smooth, structurally sound, and has the right moisture levels. Not sure how to determine this? Call a professional.
4. Inspect your wood.
Many manufacturers have very strict parameters when it comes to warranty claims. The best way to save yourself the headache of having to make a claim is to inspect every board before installing it. Returning a product because you don't like the look or because it has some sort of manufacturer defect is a lot easier if the material has not been installed yet.
5. Be gentle!
Many homeowners equate DIY projects with brute strength, when in reality this is rarely true. When it comes to installing hardwood floors, it's better to have a softer touch. You don't want to force planks together or pound a board with a hammer -- this type of behavior can lead to dents, scrapes, and otherwise damaged boards.
Remember, DIY hardwood flooring installation isn't for everyone. To learn more, talk with one of our hardwood flooring specialists.