Hardwood on concrete used to be impossible. However, innovations in new types of flooring mean you can now install gorgeous hardwood floors on above-grade concrete!
If you’re considering installing your own hardwood, keep in mind learning how to lay hardwood floors is not a simple project. The trick is to choose a flooring made for the situation, and a trip to your local flooring store should give you the options available in your area. You’ll want to ask if they hold informational classes on hardwood, and whether they offer rental on any special equipment you might need.
On concrete, you have two options: One something called floating hardwood flooring. Floating hardwood floors are made and installed the same as laminate flooring—they are held together by a snap-in locking design, and are installed over a special underlayment. The underlayment prevents moisture from entering the wood.
The other option is to directly glue or nail your hardwood to a plywood subfloor. In this post, you’ll learn more specifically on how to install hardwood flooring using this method.
Remember, this is a basic guide. Before you purchase your flooring and begin your installation, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully! If there is a difference in methods, keep in mind if you choose to not to follow the manufacturer’s requirements, you will void the warranty. It’s always a good idea to hire a professional and respected contractor for the job if you’re not sure about doing it yourself!
- First, test the moisture level of the concrete. Verify it meets the requirements of the flooring manufacturer. Too much moisture means future problems such as bad glue adherence, lifting boards and warping.
- Next, remove the baseboards. Use a prybar and hammer to gently tap them away from the wall. Number and label the pieces on the back in pencil as you remove them if you plan to reuse the same molding.
- Clean the floor. Removing all dirt and dust. If the floor has been painted, you will need to use a concrete grinder to remove the paint.
- Check the floor. Make sure the surface is level! Fill in any dips with a concrete leveler, and allow it to cure according to specifications.
- Apply a moisture barrier. Use a paint roller to coat the floor with a moisture barrier. This protective layer will block moisture from the wood and provide the optimum surface for the glue.
- Choose your starting point. Decide the direction you want the wood to run and find the most uniformly straight wall in the room. Your first rows should be furthest from the exit, so you won’t have to walk across the flooring as it’s installed.
- Use a chalk line. Mark the starting line along a wall. Because many walls aren’t truly square, a chalk line will keep your floor from ending up crooked.
- Mark your first row of boards according to the chalk line. Cut the boards according to any deviations in the wall. Make sure to maintain the recommended expansion distance from the wall, which is typically a quarter inch.
- Spread adhesive. Work in one small area at a time as you glue the first few rows of planks. Place quarter-inch spacers against the starter wall and sidewalls to allow for expansion, and use painters tape to hold the first few rows together. Wipe off excess glue with a slightly damp rag.
- Weigh down the installed wood. This weight will provide optimum adherence. Unopened boxes of wood work great, and you can shift them as your work proceeds. Allow the glue to cure according to manufacturer specifications before continuing your project.
Once the glue is dry on the first few rows, continue the installation. Work a few feet at a time, so the glue doesn’t dry before the wood has been tapped into place. Remember to tape the rows together as you go, and continue placing spacers along the sides and weight on the finished rows.
When your installation is complete, allow the glue to dry. Replace the baseboards, which will cover the expansion gaps along the walls. Wait until the glue is fully cured before cleaning any remaining residue from your new floor. The last step is to enjoy your beautiful new floor!