Hardwood Flooring Installation Methods

~ Installation Resource Guide ~

Hardwood Flooring Installation 

Touchwood Flooring offers hardwood flooring installation services for any hardwood purchased through our store in Edmonton. We use the best installation practice for the type of flooring we are installing. We have experienced installers and offer a five year installation warranty that is the best in Alberta.

If we will be doing your hardwood flooring installation, please review the flooring installation checklist so you know what to expect and will be prepared for our arrival.

How to Install Hardwood Flooring

There are 5 different methods for installing hardwood flooring and we have outlined them below, and when those methods are used.

Nail Down

Nailing the boards to a subfloor is the most common installation for both solid and engineered hardwood flooring. This requires the correct fasteners, tools and techniques to preserve the manufacturer’s warranty and ensure desired floor performance. We use cleats or staples depending on the recommendations from our manufacturers. Special care is taken with the layout of the boards to achieve the most pleasing presentation, and transitions to adjoining floor coverings are made on site from the same flooring.

Nail Down with Glue Assist

As a mandatory policy, Touchwood uses a glue assist on all engineered wide plank flooring to ensure floors do not creak or squeak. Wide boards with a single line of fasteners along the tongue will not hold up over time. Our experience has shown that a combination of a flexible construction glue and nailed cleats or staples prevents future failures. Narrower engineered floors also benefit from this attention to detail, especially for overseas products.

Floating Floor Installation

Floating floor installations are best for laminate and cork, optimal for condos or below grade, and for do-it-yourself enthusiasts.

Floating floors are glued together at tongue and groove or clicked together with a locking mechanism built into the flooring. The flooring is installed over a pad for a vapour barrier, sand barrier and cushioning. Selection of the best underlay is crucial to comply with warranty and sound barrier provisions. The floor floats as a mass and needs to be divided into sections separated with a T-cap to allow for movement.

As a completed unit, these floors are extremely durable. Individually, however, the edges of the locking boards are milled to very fine tolerances and are quite fragile. Abuse during installation will cause failure. Care must also be paid to maintaining proper clearances against walls and through doorways. Any binding will cause a separation along one of the joints, so the correct use of the proper transitions is also vital.

Glue Down Installation

Glue Down installations are used for engineered hardwood, and Touchwood will glue down hardwood in basements or condos where flooring is concrete instead of plywood.

Today’s adhesives come with sound deadening attributes and sealers; the development of high performance adhesives has made hardwood an option in areas once considered off-limits for wood. The glue must, however, be matched to the installation. Concrete vs. Gyp-Crete, above vs. below grade, sound-deadening, VOC/emissions and more must be considered prior to application.

Read and comply with the manufacture’s instructions. The correct trowels, spread rates, and clean up must be observed. There is no substitute for doing the research or reading the labels.

The final key to successful glue downs is subfloor preparation, as the flooring will follow the contours precisely. We use a variety of grinders, levelers and compounds to ensure tolerances meet standards, and moisture-testing devices to ensure adhesion.

Over In-floor Heat

Depending on the subfloor, most engineered hardwood flooring can be floated, glued or nailed over in-floor heat. Solid hardwood is not warrantied over in-floor heat. Always check the manufacture warranties.

Installations over in-floor heating require additional attention. For example, over concrete a compatible sealer is used prior to the recommended adhesive, and over Gyp-Crete, both a primer and sealer are applied before the glue. Systems must be tested prior to the install, and turned off prior to a glue down.

For nail downs, shorter fasteners are used to prevent penetration of the tubes or wires, and tubes are not to run tight against the underside of the subfloor.

During delivery and acclimation, boxes are stacked no more than four high on the subfloor and are delivered at least a week prior to install.

Most warranties hinge on a maximum subfloor surface temperature of 27 degrees Celsius, and may mandate the inclusion of thermal sensors (small heat-sensitive strips) under the flooring during the installation.

Basement Installations

Successful basement installs start with the selection of the right material, specifically warrantied for below-grade. While that rules out solid strip flooring, a large number of choices remain for floating or glue down installs.

Any issues with excessive moisture content of the slab or relative humidity of the air should be resolved prior to installation. In addition, the addition of a backflow preventer, prior to the flooring install, may provide some peace of mind.