Pre-Finished Solid Hardwood Installation Instructions
Please read and Review the entire installation instructions before proceeding with the actual installation.
You will need to determine which of the methods will apply to your specific flooring product. Not all methods will be applicable for all products.
OWNER / INSTALLER RESPONSIBILITY
Hardwood flooring is a beautiful and unique product of nature, which is characterized by distinctive variations in grain and color. These natural variations in color and grain are not flaws, but are a part of the natural beauty and uniqueness of hardwood flooring. (These inherent variations should be expected and serve to enhance the natural beauty and enduring charm.).
• Inspection of all flooring should be done before installation. Carefully examine the flooring for color, finish and quality before installing it. Use reasonable selectivity and cull out or cut off pieces with glaring defects. If material is not acceptable, contact your dealer immediately.
• Before beginning the installation of any hardwood flooring product, the installer must determine that the environment of the job site and the condition and type of the subfloor involved is acceptable, insuring that it meets or exceeds all requirements which should stipulated in the Hardwood Flooring installation instructions.
• The use of stain, filler or putty stick for the correction of defects during installation should be accepted as normal procedure.
• When Hardwood Flooring is ordered, a 5 – 10% waste factor, depending on layout, must be added to the actual square footage amount needed. (Diagonal Installations may require more.)
JOB SITE INSPECTION & ACCLIMATION
• In new construction, Hardwood Flooring should be one of the last items installed. All work involving water or moisture (plumbing, plaster /drywall ceilings or wall finishes, painting, etc.) should be finished with ample time allowed for complete drying prior to wood flooring being installed. Heating and air systems should be fully operating maintaining a consistent room temperature at 60-80o F and a constant relative humidity range of 35%-65%, 5 days prior to wood acclimation
• Flooring should not be delivered until the above guidelines are completed. Concrete and plaster should be cured and at least 60 to 90 days old. Check basements and under floor crawl space to be sure that they are dry and well ventilated to avoid damage caused by moisture. a minimum of 6 mil vapor barrier placed on 100% of the surface of the ground in crawl spaces not finished with cement are recommended.
• Flooring should be at the job site at least 48 hours prior to installation. Do not open until ready to install.
• Handle with care. Do not stand on ends or sides. Store Hardwood flooring flat with proper support on the ends and center sections in a dry place being sure to provide at least a four-inch air space under and around cartons. Stack the cartons 3-4 high to insure efficient acclimation.
• Do not store directly upon on grade concrete or next to outside walls. Cartons should be placed as close to the center of the installation area as possible, away from exterior walls, windows, and doors. Keep out of direct sunlight and away from air vents.
• The installation site should have consistent room temperature of 60o – 80o F., and a constant relative humidity level of 35% – 65% for a minimum of 5 days prior to acclimation and installation of any Hardwood Flooring product.
• 3/4″ Solid Flooring is approved for on grade or above grade installation only!!
• DO NOT INSTALL BELOW GRADE LEVEL!!
• 3/4″ Solid Flooring cannot be installed over radiant heated sub floor systems.
REQUIRED TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES
• Power Nailer / air compressor • Door jamb saw / manual or power • Miter or Table Saw • 15 lb. Asphalt Saturated Felt Paper • Chalk Line and Chalk • Safety Equipment (Goggles & Mask) • Tape Measure • Nail Punch / wood chisels • Circular Saw / Jig saw • Broom / shop vac • Hammer • Pull Bar • Pry Bar • Utility Knife
FOR FLOATING INSTALLATIONS YOU WILL ALSO NEED
APPROVED FASTENERS for 3/4” Solid Hardwood Installation
* Power Nailer #445 Pneumatic, #45 manual 2” cleat nail
* Primatch Pneumatic Floor Nailer Model P210 with 2” Power Cleat
* Primatech Manual Nailer Model H300 or H330 with 2” Power Cleat
* Stanley-Bostich Pneumatic Floor Nailer MIIIFN with 2” Power Cleat
* Stanley-Bostich Pneumatic Floor Stapler MIIIFS with 2” Staple with 1/2” crown
* Porta-Nailer Manual Floor Nailer Model 401 with 2” Power Cleat
* Porta-Nailer Manual Face Nailer Model 501 with 2’ Power Cleat
Note: Use only a flooring nailer that engages the top profile over the tongue at the appropriate angel. Make
sure that the flooring nailer is flat against the board to prevent top edge damage. Plate in contact with floor
must be smooth and free from nicks or scratches.
Important: Set air compressor to 70 – 80 PSI (or follow manufacturer’s suggested PSI setting). Adjust the air
pressure to insure proper setting of nails or staples. If tongue damage occurs, lower the air pressure.
Important: If you need to remove a side nailed staple, do not pull straight up from the tongue. This will damage the
surface of the board. Instead, pull out the nail or staple from the tongue at the front of the board with all pressure from
the hammer head directed into the subfloor.
Wood Subfloor Requirements for Nail-down ¾” Solid Hardwood
Make sure all wood subfloors are dry, with a maximum of 12 to 14 percent moisture content, and with no more than a
4% difference in moisture content between the subfloor moisture content and the hardwood flooring to be installed.
15# builders felt (tarpaper) should be used as a moisture retarder to help control subfloor movement caused by
changes in moisture or humidity levels in crawl spaces and basements. This reduces the potential for cupping or
warping of the installed hardwood flooring due to changes in the subflooring and environment.
The subfloor must be structurally sound, clean, and free of any loose debris, as well as any paints, oils, or other
The levelness tolerance of 1/8″ in 6′ must be maintained throughout the installation area. Level any raised subfloor
seam edges by rough sanding. Low spots may be leveled by filling with a suitable sub floor-leveling compound
following the manufacturers’ instructions.
Nail or screw any loose subfloor areas that squeak. Any water-damaged, or deteriorating subflooring, joists or
underlayments, must be removed and replaced.
All subfloors must be capable of sustaining the expected loads in the installation area without deflection or movement.
16” Joist Spacing:
Use an APA approved 3/4” minimum thickness, exterior grade plywood, or 3/4″ minimum thickness, OSB, following
manufacturer guidelines, including expansion spacing between the sheets. The joist manufacturer’s recommended
span must not be exceeded.
19” Joist Spacing:
Use an APA approved 1-1/4″ minimum thickness, exterior grade plywood, or 1-1/4″ minimum thickness, OSB,
following manufacturer guidelines, including expansion spacing between the sheets. The joist manufacturer’s
recommended span must not be exceeded.
Joist spacing in excess of 19″ is not recommended for solid hardwood installations unless additional layers of
directionally opposed sub flooring are installed with sufficient thickness to eliminate sub floor deflection.
All subflooring and underlayments should be spaced a minimum 1/8″ apart for expansion requirements.
Hardwood installations should not be parallel to the floor joists, or on joist spacing that exceeds 19″ unless the subfloor has been properly stiffened with additional layers of subflooring to eliminate deflection. Always install flooring perpendicular to the floor joists when possible.
Any additional layers of subflooring or underlayments required, should be installed overlapping the seam areas of the
Do not install over nailed floors that exceed 3-1/4″ in width. Wide width floors must be overlaid with plywood.
When installing over existing wood floors parallel with the flooring, install an additional 1/4″ layer of plywood to stabilize the flooring, or install the new wood floor perpendicularly.
Do Not install over particleboard, pressed wood or fiberboard.
Do not install over existing glue-down floors.
Do not install solid wood plank or strip over radiant heated subfloors.
Remember: Moisture tests should be completed before and after the hardwood has been acclimated, to insure that the
job site conditions meet requirements.
Wood Substrates: Test the moisture of the wood substrate using a calibrated moisture meter approved for testing wood moisture according to the meter manufacturers guidelines. The reading should not exceed 14%, or read more than a 4% difference than moisture content of products being installed.
Concrete Slab: Follow NWFA guidelines, (plywood method or screed/sleeper method). Solid hardwood can be installed on or above grade only. Never install below grade, in basement areas.
All concrete subfloors must be tested for moisture content prior to installation of the hardwood flooring. The moisture content of the fully cured concrete subfloor must not exceed 3 lbs. /1000 sq.ft./24 hr. emissions, measured using the Calcium Chloride Test method.
Below are methods to test to indicate moisture is present in the concrete sub floor:
1) Use an approved calibrated concrete Moisture Meter as a preliminary measurement for moisture such
as: Delmhorst Moisture Meter Model G, Tramex Concrete Moisture Encounter Follow manufacturer’s specific calibration requirements.
2) Perform a poly film Test. Tape down 3’ x 3’ poly film squares in various areas of the floor, every 200 square ft. Wait 48 hours, and then check for the appearance of condensation under the poly-film or for darkening on the concrete sub floor. Either occurrence signals the presence of excess moisture, requiring a mandatory Calcium Chloride Test.
If you have determined that moisture is present, a Calcium Chloride and pH Alkalinity Test are mandatory, to accurately determine the amount of moisture content and the Ph level in the concrete slab, so that corrective actions can be taken.
• Perform a Calcium Chloride test according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The maximum acceptable reading is 3-lbs. /24 hours/1000 sq. ft for moisture emissions.
• Perform a pH Alkalinity Test according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A pH reading of 6-9 on a pH number scale of 1-14 is acceptable. If the test results exceed these numbers, the concrete slab should be sealed with an appropriate sealer to correct conditions to meet the manufacturer’s recommendations.
• Acclimate product for 72 hours prior to installation. Additional acclimation time may be required when extreme climate conditions are present, or sub floor / flooring moisture content conditions exceed the 4% differential required.
• Verify that the sub floor is level and structurally sound. Repair as needed.
• Undercut door case molding.
• Remove any existing wall base, shoe molding, quarter round or doorway thresholds.
• Cover the clean surface, wall to wall, with 15 lb. asphalt saturated felt paper. Butting the edges together.
Important: 3/4″ Solid Flooring is for on or above grade installation only! NEVER INSTALL SOLID WOOD BELOW GRADE OR IN BASEMENT AREAS!
Important: 3/4″ Solid Flooring cannot be installed over radiant heat floors.
Step 1: ESTABLISH A STARTING POINT
• Before beginning the actual installation, provide proper layout of flooring by distributing short and long lengths equally over the areas where the flooring is to be installed.
Remember: Flooring is to be installed at right angles to the floor joists and if possible, in the longest dimension of the room.
• Work out of several cartons at a time to insure proper color and shade mixture.
• Align the first row of planks to be sure you have a good straight line from one side of the room to the other. Snap a chalk line at the desired distance from the wall to help align the planks. The end joints of plank or strip flooring should be staggered to achieve the best appearance in the finished floor. (Minimum 6″)
Important: Allow at least 3/4″ (thickness of hardwood), expansion space at all walls and vertical obstructions. Expansion space will be concealed using baseboard, and quarter round trim.
Step 2: INSTALLING THE FLOOR
• Align the first piece on the chalk line. The groove side and end will be facing the starting wall. Pre drill holes and drive 7D or 8D finish nails or screw type flooring nails into the face of the board every 12” approximately 1/3″ – 3/4″ from the edge closest to the starting wall and within 2″- 3″ from the ends and in the darker grain of the wood.
• Edge nail the plank by driving the same type nails at a 50o angle through the tongue of the first piece, spacing the nails every 8″ – 10″ and within 2″ – 3″ from the ends. This process should be repeated for each piece in the entire first row. Upon completion of the first row, go back and sink the face nails with a nail punch. If it appears that the holes will not be covered by the wall base or quarter round trim, fill the holes with matching wood filler, which blends with your pre-stained floor.
Note: Typically, the first few rows must be edge nailed by hand, rather than with a nailing machine due to the vertical wall obstruction. When clearance allows, use an approved nailing machine, which drives 2″ fasteners with an appropriate mallet. Used to simplify and speed up the nailing process.
• Install each succeeding row of planks by edge nailing the tongue side every 8″ – 10″ to within 2″ – 3″ from board ends. Be attentive to staggering the ends of the boards at least 6″ in adjacent rows to avoid clustering end joints. It is best to build a rack 4-6 planks wide as you install wood through the length of the room. Upon reaching the last row to be installed, the planks should be ripped to allow a 3/4″ expansion space. The last rows must be fastened by nailing approximately 1/2″ – 3/4” from the back edge of the board every 12″. The same process of counter sinking the face nails and applying color matched wood filler, should be repeated (as above on starting wall).
Make sure when the installation is complete that the expansion space is covered with the appropriate molding such as, base board and ¼ round.
Doorways: Attempting to continue installing rows through a doorway into another room can cause problems because the narrow opening is a very small base upon which to continue consistent even rows into the next room. Use a master reference line placed through the adjoining rooms to insure plank alignment. Rooms may be divided at doorways by using a color matched T-molding.
Pipes, vents and other fixed objects: Each can be unique, but the general rule is to measure very carefully before you cut and remember to leave a 1/2” expansion gap between the object and the flooring. You will cover expansion gaps with molding, colored sealant, vent covers or pipe rings when the floor is complete.
Installation on Stairs: Flooring on stairs must be fully nailed to the stairs. Installation on a flight of Stairs or complete stairwell is not recommended. Check with local building codes before cutting off any of the original wood on the existing step. Stair Nose Moldings should be installed using construction grade adhesive, as well as screw type fasteners or nails.
CAUTION: Hardwood installed on steps can be slick. Always be very careful, especially while walking on steps with stockings or socks only, on the feet.
• Moldings should be acclimated 48 hours
• Moldings must be predrilled to avoid splitting whenever they are to be secured with nails or fasteners.
• The tool of choice for cutting hardwood moldings is a 10 or 12” motorized miter saw with pre-set adjustments for the basic miter cuts at 22.5o, 45o, and 90o. A carbide tipped blade makes the best cuts. Be sure the saw blade is positioned to cut into the finished face.
• When installing Wall Base molding, eliminate the need to putty as many holes on the molding by placing the bottom nail below the finished line of the Quarter Round.
• On Wall Base or Quarter Round moldings, never restrict the hardwood floor’s natural contraction/expansion movement by driving the fasteners at a downward angle. Attach the moldings to the wall or vertical surface.
• Always miter cuts rather than having butt cuts when splicing. Decide the direction of the miter by cutting the molding with the long point oriented in the same direction as your natural line of vision when you enter the room.
Wall Base – Borders the wood floor at the base of the wall to give the room a finished look. This molding along with the Quarter Round conceals the required expansion space between the wall and the hardwood flooring. It is also sometimes used under cabinets and toe kicks.
Quarter Round – This molding conceals the required expansion space between the wall/ wall base and the hardwood flooring. It is also sometimes used under cabinets and toe kicks where a wall base won’t fit or at the base of the stairs to provide a subtle blend between the floor and the wall or vertical surface.
Threshold This molding is used at exterior doorways as a transition between flooring and the doorway threshold. It also can be used to transition a wood floor to different floor types to make them fit together perfectly, such as high pile carpeting or tile. Another typical use for a threshold is to conceal the expansion space between the flooring and a vertical surface such as fireplace hearths and sliding glass doors.
Installation: Lay the threshold molding in place to determine a proper fit. The threshold molding should overlap the flooring by 1/2” to 3/4” leaving the balance for expansion. To attach the threshold, nail into the subfloor behind the lip of the molding. Be sure when nailing not to obstruct the floors expansion space.
T Molding – Doorway molding used to join two wood floors in adjoining rooms. Also used when making transitions from a wood floor to another floor that is approximately the same height, such as ceramic tile, hardwood, or laminate floors. T-Moldings are also used to provide expansion joints when a floor dimension exceeds the length or a width of 40’.
Installation: A space of 1 1/4” between the two adjoining floors is necessary to properly install the molding. This is to allow for the expansion space. Lay the T-Molding in place to determine proper fit. To attach the T-Molding between a ceramic tile floor and the hardwood floor, apply 1/4” bead of construction adhesive to the top edge of the ceramic tile. To attach between two hardwood floors apply the 1/4” bead to the tope edge of one side of the hardwood only. Seat the molding in place allowing for a minimum of a 1/4” overlap on the wood flooring. Make sure to allow for the expansion space between the T-Molding and the tile. When installing over a wood sub-floor, use finish nails to secure T-mold. When installing over concrete, use heavy-duty construction adhesive to secure T-molding.
Overlap Reducer– (Floating Method) Used to join hardwood floors that utilize the floating installation method with floors of different heights such as vinyl, ceramic tile, or low pile carpeting.
Installation: To attached molding pre-drill and nail in appropriate 6” to 8” intervals. Do not nail less than 2”- 3” from the ends of either side. To attach the molding using glue, apply glue to the front edge of the molding. Apply one or two 1/4” beads of construction adhesive to the subfloor and seat the molding in place. It is important not to attach the reducer directly to the floating floor to allow expansion and contraction.
Overlap Stair Nose – (Floating Method) provides the proper transition for stairways or steps, which have hardwood floors that have been installed using the floating installation method. The Stair Nose also provides the proper overhang for a transition from one floor level to the next such as the step into a sunken living room.
Installation: To attached molding pre-drill and nail in appropriate 6” to 8” intervals. Do not nail less than 2”- 3” from the ends of either side. Also apply glue to the front edge of the molding. Apply one or two 1/4” beads of construction adhesive to the subfloor and seat the molding in place. All stair nose moldings must be nailed and glued to secure the molding adequately. It is important not to attach the reducer directly to the floating floor to allow expansion and contraction.
Flush Reducer – Used to join hardwood floors that have been glued down or nailed down to transition with floors of different heights such as vinyl, ceramic tile, or low pile carpeting.
Installation: To attached molding pre-drill and nail in appropriate 6” to 8” intervals. Do not nail less than 2”- 3” from the ends of either side. To attach the molding using glue, apply glue to the front edge of the molding. Apply one or two 1/4” beads of construction adhesive to the subfloor and seat the molding in place.
Flush Stair Nose – Provides the proper transition for stairways or steps which have hardwood floors that have been installed by either the nail down or glue down installation method. The Stair Nose also provides the proper overhang for a transition from one floor level to the next such as the step into a sunken living room.
Installation: When used on a stair step, the Stair Nose molding should cover and overlap the riser. When used on a step-up to another room, the Stair Nose molding becomes the starting “edge” of the floor. Because of the interlocking of the molding with the floor, the Stair Nose molding should be installed first. Once the molding is in place, the interlocking floor can be installed. Moldings should be installed using adhesive and screw type fasteners or nails.
Important: Do not install any Hardwood Flooring Product using the glue down installation method over any vinyl asbestos flooring, vinyl composition tile, linoleum, asphalt tile, ceramic or stone tiles, carpet, or vinyl sheet products. Use a Hardwood that is rated for the Floating Floor Installation Method.
Installation on Stairs: Working from the top step down, flooring should be installed using adhesive and screw type fasteners or nails. All stair nose moldings must be glued and nailed, or screwed every 8”, as a safety precaution.
Always consider that finished hardwood, installed on steps can be a very slick surface, especially when walked on with stocking feet. Use caution when walking on finished steps.
Glue down over cork: Using Wood flooring adhesive, Cross Ply Engineered Hardwood can be installed over a structurally sound concrete sub floor that is covered with full spread, permanently bonded acoustic cork. Cork thickness should not exceed 1/4” (6.35 mm), with a density between 11.4 and 13 lb / cubic foot. Install cork in accordance with cork manufacturer’s recommendations. Acoustic cork should be pure cork with a polyurethane binder.
Hardwood Flooring Care & Maintenance
1. Use a damp cloth to blot up spills as soon as they happen. Never allow liquids to stand on your floor.
2. For tough spots, such as oil, paint, markers, lipstick, ink, or tar, use acetone/nail polish remover on a clean white cloth, then wipe the area with a damp cloth to remove any remaining residue.
3. Sweep, dust, or vacuum the floor regularly with the hard floor attachment (not the beater bar) to prevent accumulation of dirt and grit that can scratch or dull the floor finish.
4. Periodically clean the floor with cleaning products made specifically for pre-finished hardwood floor care.
5. Do not wash or wet mop the floor with soap, water, oil-soap detergent, or any other liquid cleaning material. This could cause swelling, warping, delaminating, and joint-line separation, and void the warranty.
6. Do not use steel wool, abrasive cleaners, or strong ammoniated or chlorinated type cleaners.
7. Do not use any type of buffing or polishing machine.
8. For spots such as candle wax or chewing gum, harden the spot with ice and then gently scrape with a plastic scraper, such as a credit card. Be careful not to scratch the flooring surface. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.
9. For tough stains, you may need to use a heavy-duty stain remover made specifically for hardwood floors.
10. A more frequent dust-mopping or vacuuming schedule may be required in very sandy areas such as a beach home.
1. Entry mats will help collect the dirt, sand, grit, and other substances such as oil, asphalt, or driveway sealer that might otherwise be tracked onto your floor.
2. Do not use rubber or foam backed plastic mats as they may discolor the flooring finish. To prevent slippage, use an approved vinyl rug underlayment.
3. Use floor protectors and wide-load bearing leg bases/ rollers to minimize indentations and scratches from heavy objects. As a rule, the heavier the object, the wider the floor protector.
4. Maintain a normal indoor relative humidity level between 45 and 65% throughout the year to minimize the natural expansion and contraction of the wood.
a. Heating season (Dry): A humidifier is recommended to prevent excess shrinkage due to low humidity levels. Wood stove and electric heat tend to create very dry conditions.
b. Non Heating Season (Wet): An air conditioner, dehumidifier, or periodically turning on your heating will help to maintain humidity levels during summer months.
5. Avoid excessive exposure to water during periods of inclement weather.
6. Do not walk on your floor with stiletto heels, spiked golf shoes, or other types of sports cleats.
7. Do not allow sharp, pointed, or rough textured objects to be exposed to the hardwood flooring.
8. Keep your pet’s nails trimmed to prevent them from scratching your floor.
9. Periodically rearranging your area rugs and furniture will allow the floor to age evenly. UV sunlight will soften the tone of different species of hardwood to varying degrees.
10. Use a dolly when moving heavy furniture or appliances; but first, put down a piece of quarter inch plywood or Masonite to protect the floor. Never try to slide or roll heavy objects across the floor.
11. A protective mat should be used for furniture or chairs with castors.
Repairing Your Hardwood Floor
1. Minor damage to your hardwood floor can be repaired by using a color fill. This special product should be matched to the color of your floor and, when properly used, will make the damaged area virtually invisible. In addition, the repaired area will hold up to traffic and wear.
2. A qualified hardwood flooring installer should repair extensive damage to traditional engineered or solid hardwood flooring.
• This installation technique is required for SOLID hardwood construction. You or a professional installer will either nail or power STAPLE your new hardwood floor to a suitable subfloor. SOLID construction, like it sounds, is milled from a single 3/4″ thick piece of hardwood. Because of its thickness, a solid hardwood floor can be sanded and refinished over several generations of use. One of the characteristics of solid wood flooring is that it expands and contracts with changes in your home’s relative humidity. Normally, installers compensate for this movement by leaving an expansion gap between the floor and the wall. Base molding or quarter round is traditionally used to hide the extra space.
• This is an optional installation technique that can be used for ENGINEERED hardwoods. You or a professional installer will use adhesive to adhere your new hardwood to a suitable subfloor. You will also use adhesive between the seams of your hardwood floor to complete and stabilize the installation.
• This installation technique is an option on certain ENGINEERED hardwoods. With a floating installation, you will not use adhesive to adhere the wood to your subfloor. Instead, you will use an underlayment between the wood and your subfloor. This installation technique allows the floor to expand and contract. The are variety of underlayment options for your specific installation. You will need to use adhesive between the seams of your hardwood to complete and stabilize the installation.
You’ll want to consider your installation options as you make your product selection. Your dealer will be able to help you decide what method will work best for your specific needs.
Exotic Solid Hardwoods Nail and Staple Instructions
Rare Exotic Solid Hardwoods showcase a dynamic range of rare grain and color variations that are sure to capture the attention of the most demanding customers.
These unique hardwoods are also unsurpassed in hardness, measuring in the range of 3000 units on the Janka rating scale, compared to traditional hardwoods such as oak, which have a Janka hardness rating of about 1300 units.
Because of the extreme hardness of these newer exotic hardwood species, special equipment settings and techniques must be utilized to insure a successful installation
• Fully acclimate the hardwood for 72 hrs. – following solid wood guidelines.
• Use a pneumatic hardwood nailer – 2”cleated nails, or use a pneumatic hardwood stapler – ½” crown, 1-1/2” long staples.
• The models listed in the above solid Hardwood Installation Instructions will work, except the manual types.
• To insure that air pressure remains constant at all times, use a minimum 2 horsepower/ 4 gallon tank air compressor to power the nailer or stapler. The compressor should be regulated at 85 lbs. PSI.
• DO NOT USE A MANUAL NAILER OR STAPLER. The excessive blunt force needed to properly set the nails into the extremely dense exotic hardwoods, can sometimes cause damage to the top face and side of the planks.