Installing hardwood floors is easier than, say, trimming out your windows and doors.
But it’s not quite the cakewalk that the big-carton stores lead you to believe (yes, even those click-together engineered floors can be challenging).
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you dive in:
Are you comfortable with a table saw?
Even simple install projects will eventually involve ripping a board down its long length. You can’t do this safely with a circular saw – and please don’t try. We generally tell people that if you have to learn to use a table saw to do a floor project, they should consider hiring someone.
Is your subfloor good enough?
Neither particle board nor 5/8" oriented strand board (OSB) is an adequate subfloor for a solid hardwood floor –they are just too crumbly to hold tight to your fasteners. It would be like firing nails into shortbread.
If your subfloor is inadequate, your only hope is to remove it and replace with 3/4” plywood, but this is not a task for a first-timer. (See more subfloor facts in the sidebar).
How complex is the room's layout?
You may be installing what appears to be a simple square room, but make sure you take these complicating factors into consideration:
- Installing around kitchen islands or pillars? Getting the flooring to meet up correctly on the other side takes great care. The bigger the obstacle, the bigger the potential misalignment.
- Installing under toekicks or around built-in kitchen banquettes? It can be difficult to get fastening tools into these tight spaces, even a hammer.
- Starting from the bullnose at the top of a stairwell
- Framing a fireplace hearth
- Framing any fixed diagonal features
- Going through doorways
- Removing radiators (no, you cannot install around them!)
- Installing flush mount vents