HOW TO INSTALL SOLID PLANK FLOORING
We recommend employing a professional to install, sand & finish our unfinished flooring and install our pre-finished flooring, but, many of our customers are “do-it-yourselfers” and the successful installation of one of our solid wide plank floors is accessible to anyone who’s handy, using the following guidelines:
Please inspect your flooring promptly after arrival to insure that it is the species and grade you ordered, the quantity is correct, there are no milling defects and the moisture content is within the specified range, typically between 6-9%. Any irregularities should be reported immediately, as after the flooring has been out of our control, we cannot assume responsibility for subsequently encountered problems.
Assessment, modification and maintenance of site conditions are the most important prerequisites to the successful installation and performance of wide plank wood flooring. Solid wood flooring installation should be avoided anywhere outside moisture penetration is possible. Therefore, any areas below the natural grade of the property or where rain can intrude are unacceptable candidates for a solid wood floor.
- The installation of solid wood flooring should be postponed until all moisture producing trades (masonry, drywall, plaster, etc.) are complete and their work is thoroughly dry; the roof, windows and exterior doors are installed tight and dry and the mechanical systems (heat or A/C depending on the season) have been operating for a minimum of 2 weeks. Relative humidity within the home should be maintained between 30% and 50% with 35% being ideal.
- The wood flooring as delivered and the sub-floor must be tested for moisture content. The moisture content of the flooring should not differ from the moisture content of the sub-floor by more than 2%. If the deviation is greater than that, acclimation is essential. Once both have reached the desired range, installation may proceed.
- Underlayment should be a minimum 5/8″ thick plywood (3/4″ thick is recommended) glued and securely fastened to wood framing or glued or shot to a thoroughly dry concrete slab. 15 pound felt or red rosin paper may be used as an installation aid, but neither can be considered an effective vapor barrier.
- Unfinished solid wood flooring is best installed before interior trim or cabinetry is installed, and prior to the application of finish wall paint. This allows the trim to be fit tight and cabinetry to be scribed to the floor resulting in a neater overall job. Pre-finished solid wood flooring is best installed after all other carpentry or messy work is complete – typically at the same time as carpeting.
- As plank flooring is often in random widths of possibly unequal linear feet each, an assessment of the quantities of each width (number of bundles) and an approximate layout plan must be devised. This is no more scientific than to use rows of more prevalent widths more frequently, and to use scant widths more sparingly. In no case will you fall short of any given run if this method is employed.
- Begin by striking a line parallel to (usually) the longest outside wall, the distance away from that wall equal to the width of the chosen starter row including the tongue plus 1/2″. Align the edge of the tongue with your marked line and face nail the groove side of the boards 1″ in from the edge. Once all boards are securely face nailed, proceed to blind nail the tongue side, using an appropriate length cleat every 4″ – 6″. There is no need to “hit” the joists as the cleat will not penetrate the sub-floor sufficiently to “bite” anyway; and the intention is to securely attach the plank flooring to the sub-flooring – assuming the sub-floor is tightly attached to the joists! Tap the next rows’ groove over the tongue (using a block of pine or a rubber mallet on hardwoods) and again, blind nail through the tongue. Continue likewise across the room until you approach the opposite wall. Begin face nailing when you are no longer able to employ the nailing machine. If necessary, rip the final boards to leave a 1/2″ gap adjacent to the wall. Allow a minimum 1/4″ gap around vertical obstructions as well.
- After all trim and cabinetry is installed and painted, and all other “messy” trades are done, the floor can be sanded and finished. On our new woods, we recommend standard sanding and finishing procedures – usually 2 passes ending with 100-120 grit – followed by application of the finish of your choice. Our flooring may be stained any flavor you’d like, but naturally we feel a clear finish is preferable. An oil (solvent) based clear finish initially gives the floor a deeper, mellower appearance and accelerates the patinating process, yet still allows the wood to age gracefully. Many water-based finishes are excellent and can keep lighter colors from yellowing – but, are less forgiving in application. A light sanding and tacking between coats results in a smoother finish.
- On our Antique Reclaimed flooring, particularly on the Rustic Grades, or other flooring with a slight texture, we recommend using an orbital floor buffer/sander with a purple/maroon abrasive pad rather than a belt or drum floor sander, as the objective is to merely remove any milling marks on the moulded surfaces rather than risk removing the inherent character. Edges can be blended in by using an orbital palm sander.
- On flooring with a custom surface treatment applied – such as hand-planing and wire-brushing, no further sanding prior to the application of a finish is required.
- Whether the oil based or water based finishoption is chosen , I recommend 3 coats of satin or lower sheen finish for the best results and performance.
We recognize that the practices of the wood flooring professional you have selected for the installation and finishing, with specific knowledge of local conditions, favorite methods, finish types, etc. may differ from these guidelines and should be given due consideration.