Engineered wood floors transform a space with their natural textures, earthy ambiance, and versatile looks. Whether you share your home with pets and kids or yourself, engineered flooring makes the perfect match for many homes. Once you've perused your list of hardwood choices and selected the ideal wood for your space, it's time to install. However, before achieving your dream floors, a couple more steps need to occur. Prep work sets the foundation for your new floors, ensuring a steady, safe, and beneficial base that'll optimize your wood floors. Here is how to prepare a floor for engineered flooring so you can get the most out of your new planks.
Get the Right Materials
The start of preparation begins before you've ordered your dream oak or dark engineered wood flooring. Measuring the square footage of the space you're working in determines how many pieces of wood you'll need, including extra for emergencies. You can obtain the room's square footage by multiplying the measured length with the room's width. You can figure out how much flooring you need per the boards' sizes with the square footage noted. Other materials you'll need that just make things easier for the rest of prep include:
- Appropriate underlayment
- Various cleaning supplies
- A generic toolbox and a saw
- A measuring stick or ruler
- Wood moisture reader
- Chalk line kit
Remove and Clean the Existing Base
No matter the type of flooring, starting with a clean slate is the best way to begin. Remove previous floors to expose the subfloor that you'll use as the foundation during installation. Vinyl floors (paired with floating wood planks) or cement floors make viable bases for engineered wood and don't require removal. Cleaning the base of your workspace free from dirt, dust, debris, lingering odors, and other interferences increases your chances of a successful installation. Items caught between the ground and the new floor planks put you at risk of getting uneven leveling, potential future damage, and a buildup of dust particles and unpleasant smells in the atmosphere, creating a stuffy room.
Fix Loose, Damaged, or Creaky Subfloors
Damages like holes, stripping wood, loose groundwork, and worn framework hinder new floors' stability and leveling. Patching any hazards before installing your future flooring sets you up with a sturdy foundation and further optimizes the installation process and your experience with the new floors. Creaky subfloors will continue to creak and be heard over the new flooring, so tending to those squeaks minimizes the risk of your future flooring also creaking.
Check Moisture Levels
Although engineered wood holds more resistance to moisture than solid hardwood, too much of it can affect the planks, causing warping and swelling. With a moisture reader, you can gauge the room's atmosphere and find possible solutions to changing your space's environment. If the reading dictates high moisture ratings, you may need to add insulation and adjust the area's temperature. Ideal climates for wood floors range between 60 to 80°F.
Check the Floor Level
Certain foundations may not be evenly leveled, depending on your house's age. Uneven bases for solid floorings like tile and engineered wood planks create various challenges and issues, from potential future damage to the new floor and loose pieces to unappealing placements. Plus, it makes it difficult to secure latching planks due to the inflexibility of the wood and lips being out of reach of one another. There are different ways to level your subfloor. One leveling method requires a leveling compound, like self-leveling concrete consisting of a flowy substance that can spread itself evenly across a surface. Another form of evening floors includes sanding away raised levels.
Prep Potential Floor Space Barriers
Pipes, door frames, and doors take up some floor space. Cutting your planks and other easily customizable barriers creates a cohesive environment and ensures your floors can fit and fill the entire area. With one of your new planks, you can mark out and cut the door and its frame to make room for the new floor to slide underneath.
Floor underlayments are one of the most important steps to prepping for new flooring. They provide a range of benefits, including protection to the underside of your planks, added insulation, sound dampening, and additional barriers to moisture from the ground below. You can choose from various underlayments, each offering slightly different advantages and purposes to best fit your desires. Leaving extra pieces of underlayers on the sides guarantees you that all of your floors are properly covered underneath, not risking direct exposure to the subfloor from possible shifted layers. Once you place your new flooring, you can cut the leftover foundation coverings.
Mark Down the Appropriate Floor Plan
Most wood planks expand a little over time as they adjust to their new atmosphere. Expansion gaps are the recommended measured space between your floor's starting line and the wall to accommodate potential expansion. With a chalk line kit and measurement tool, you can mark out the center of all the walls in your room and create lines across each side to the center point of the opposite wall. Down each line, you want to measure out the recommended expansion gap and map out a new line across the room at the subtracted gap mark, indicating the start and end line to your floor's placement. Drawing a plan across the floor minimizes installation miscalculations, errors, and inaccurate supply use.
Acclimate the New Floor
The last step of the floor prep is allowing your wood boards to acclimate to their new home. For the same reason as leaving an expansion gap on your floor plan, acclimating your wood gives the planks time to adjust to their new living conditions. Wood inevitably takes in the moisture of its environment, causing them to expand or retract. Since engineered wood features a stronger resistance to moisture, it undergoes very minimal changes and adjustments when reacting to the water particles in the air. Typically, engineered wood takes up to 48 hours to fully adapt to its new surroundings.
Understanding how to prepare a floor for engineered flooring doesn't differ that much from knowing how to prepare for other flooring types. After conducting all the preparation work, you've set yourself up with the perfect foundation for your dream floors. The right setup makes the installation process easier for you and more successful. Plus, it ensures that your new floors reach their maximum lifespan and provide you with all the pros of using engineered floors in your home.