How to lay Engineered Hardwood | The Rookie's Guide

   Since Tim was the one to physically lay the floor, along with his friend and my step-dad, I thought it'd be fun to have Tim takeover this post. He truly is the hands in our home renovations and I thought it'd be fun to have him takeover this post to share his experience, tips and tricks on how he laid our new floors! -Kayla
  I would like to thank Kayla, first and foremost, for sharing her creative space here on with me. Flooring is expense in and of itself but adding the install cost on top was, well, not an option for us. But replacing our floors was a must! Truth be told, I've never laid any type of flooring...ever! I'm sure I'm not the only first-time homeowner out there that is trying to save money where I can, so I thought sharing some tips that I found helpful along the way might help you out!
    Choosing the perfect flooring took quite some time, as in eight months. We took the carpet and pink tile up at the end of December 2016. We sampled several different types of flooring, but none of them gave the feel we were looking for. I did not realize how difficult the decision-making process was going to be. On top of that, I was intimidated to install the flooring because it was my first time. Luckily, I had four extra helping hands, my father-in-law and a close friend, finishing the entire room in only 3 hours. I hope this blog post will help prepare you with these helpful tips that I found useful.

1. Preparation

     The most important tip to ANY project is preparation. It is important to know what you need and what to do to get the job finished. First, decide on the type of flooring you may want, such as vinyl, hardwood or engineered. Is the thickness different then original floor? Make sure the flooring you choose is the right material for that room. You would not want to install hardwood or engineered hardwood in your bathroom. Get to know how to install your flooring, whether it is nail down, glue or floating.

    This blog will focus on floating floors even though the steps are similar for any kind of flooring. After you have received the flooring, plan to acclimate to the house for at least 4 to 5 days. Next decide which way you want the flooring to you can tell we laid it length wise with the room. Pick out your underlayment, there are different qualities and features for each choice. We chose  Quiet Walk from Menards.  Make sure the sub flooring is as level and smooth as possible and no nails or anything are sticking up out of floor. The underlayment can help a little for unevenness but don't rely on that. Remove baseboards if need be. Being prepared can make a project go smoothly or become a disaster.

2. Tools

   Having the proper tools from the beginning is part of being prepared. Kayla likes to give the metaphor that tools are like makeup brushes for the face...  if you have great makeup (floors) but without the right brushes (tools) you won't get the best application. These tools are a must to be efficient at laying floor. The tools you need are:

Table saw - for cutting the floor length of plank, a.k.a ripping.
Miter saw - to make width cuts, to make shorter pieces when necessary.
Carpenters square and Carpenters pencil - to mark where cuts need to be made.
Tapping Block/Pull Bar and Rubber mallet - to help lock flooring together.
Spacers - to allow approximately a 1/4" gap in between new flooring and the wall during install. You can get installation kit Here
Tape- for underlayment
Measuring Tape - Measure twice, or three times, cut once.
Safety glasses - Safety First

3. Measure

      Measure twice, cut once! Measure your space and decide amount of flooring needed in square foot(Measure room in feet then convert to square foot, ex. if room is 10' x 5' = 50 sq ft.). Make sure to add 10% to total square foot for defects and mistakes. Amount of underlayment is bought in sq ft. as well. As you lay each row of flooring you may notice the direction of the newly laid flooring start to misalign diagonally off from center. To prevent this or at least minimize this, use a tape measure every 3rd row and measure from the wall to edge of every 3rd row (so measure at row 3, then row 6, again at row 9, etc). You will want to measure on the left side and right side of room and have both measurements to be as close as possible. If the flooring misaligns it is ok to be approximately 1/16 to 1/8 inch off but anything more could be noticeable and ruin the look of the room. It is important to not use the wall as a means of laying the floor in a straight line, walls are not even!

4. Floor Installation

      To start off you need to remove baseboards(not always necessary if you have enough gap between baseboard and subfloor). To lay the floor correctly have tongue(male side) facing wall and groove(female side) facing toward next row. Use spacers or whatever alternative item in-between the wall and planks. Spacers help prevent floor from moving while installing and allows a 1/4" gap for expansion and contraction which will prevent buckling.
     Another way you can install if you don't want to use spacers or pull all baseboards up (as long as their is enough gap between subfloor and baseboard) is to butt the flooring up to the wall on one side of room but leave approximately 1/2" from wall on other side of room. Same goes for the width of room.
     I was able to do this because the baseboards were thick enough to cover that size of gap on one side plus adding quarter round will help cover any gaps. To connect planks together, slightly angle board up(groove side up, tongue side angled down) and insert the tongue into the groove. Then Lock pieces together with tapping block kit.  It is always important to remember to stagger the planks. This is very important for the look of the room and also helps with the strength of floor. Use a full plank for doorways, preferably no joints in a doorway.

The rule of threes doesn't just apply to decorating. SIZE, CLICK, TAP.  The three steps to the installing engineered hardwood.

5. Making Cuts

      Planks may or may not come in variable lengths. My flooring, the Stately Manor Engineered Hardwood from Build Direct, came with variable lengths which helped with the speed of laying the floor thus cutting back on trips made to the saw. Pre-cut planks are convenient but will not prevent you from having to make your own cuts to finish a row. Again, make sure as you are cutting and laying the floor that no two joints line up, you always want staggering. Stagger is swagger, floor swagger.

      When you have to make a cut on the last plank in the row just flip plank over with bottom side up, groove side facing toward row and tongue toward wall. Use a Carpenter Square, I used this one, and pencil to help you mark where to make your cut. Head to your Table Saw or what I prefer for this cut, a Miter Saw. Table Saws are great for any kind of cut that might need multiple cuts on one plank such as corners or doorways. Again when making cuts for door ways make sure to use a whole plank and not two joined together because it will have a better look and more strength.

     Some people may rip 1/4" to 1/2" off the width of the plank on the starting and finishing rows for a nice symmetrical look to the room. For us this was not feasible. We just laid the floor without making any cuts. If you want to have your flooring as symmetrical as possible then measure the width of room and then divide by width of one plank, (ex: 120" wide room divided by 5" wide plank = 24 planks wide) then you can decide if you want to take anything off of first and last rows. 

    ––– Extra Tip:  Not necessary but helpful. While laying the flooring, because it was a floating floor, it would shift and misalign slightly, so we would have to straighten the floor back out. After about the 3rd row, I pulled out my handy dandy brad nailer and put a nail in both corners of every plank in the first row to help prevent the floor from shifting. Again not need because eventually after laying enough rows it will be difficult to move all that floor but is still possible.


Check out the Reno Reveal HERE
                                                         + Before & After Video HERE

 From the aesthetic to install we couldn't be happier with our new Mohawk- Stately Manor floors from Build Direct, they are above and beyond what we hoped for. If you're not already familiar with, it's a must to browse if you are doing any sort of home renovation/remodel!

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1 comment

  1. Strong wood ground surface will last over 100 years, and the complete can be effectively restored when required. Simply having wood floors builds the estimation of your home.
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