Whether you are purchasing new wood floors or replacing existing flooring, here are 7 key things to be aware of before and during the process.

We presume that most readers will be homeowners or business property owners hiring out this job to a contractor, so our blog is geared toward you. However, if you are a do-it-yourselfer, we applaud you, and perhaps these ideas will serve as good reminders.

1. Choose a wood floor.

Go to a showroom and inspect different wood flooring colors, species, widths and lengths. Think deeply about your home or office space. What style are you shooting for? What kind of use will your floor get from foot traffic, visitors and sunlight? What can you afford?

Sure, this first step seems like a no-brainer, but it serves a dual purpose. In addition to finding a great floor, it can also lead you to the right contractor to install your flooring via recommendations from the showroom—provided they don’t have their own installation crew.

2. Preview the floor before installation.

If you are installing solid wood, then you’ll want to receive your flooring a few days before the installation date. You should keep the floor in your home or office and allow it time to acclimate to the environment’s relative humidity. However, if you have purchased engineered wood product, it can be delivered and installed immediately.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but we’ll mention it. You should open up a box of your flooring once it arrives and look at it to make final approval on it before it’s installed. Since most warranties won’t allow you to return flooring after installation (even if partial), then you want to check your flooring. It’d be awful to get part of your floor installed after having received the wrong color or decide it’s not exactly what you wanted.

3. If replacing an old floor, remove all the furniture.

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We know that removing all of your furniture is a hassle, but try to look on the bright side. It gives you the opportunity to replace the furniture you don’t like, donate items you don’t want anymore and allow for a reboot and new room design if desired.

Some contractors include furniture moving as part of their service. Make sure to ask. Furniture can be temporarily located in another room, the garage or in a small portable storage container.

4. The old floor has to go.

If you are replacing an existing floor, then the next step is to remove the old. Previous installations of carpet, vinyl, old wood floors or laminate will need to be taken out.

Often, baseboards and other trim pieces have to be temporarily removed to make way for the new floor. This makes a good time to repaint or stain your baseboards, or replace altogether if you so wish.

5. Almost time to install. Check the subfloor and decide on direction.

Prior to installation, the subfloor needs to be checked to make sure it is in good shape. A conventional floor should be clean and as level as possible and structurally sound. If there are any noticeable water leaks or rotting, now is the chance to fix those issues.

If it’s a concrete slab, you want the contractor to ensure its moisture level is within appropriate levels for installation. The manufacturer’s guidelines specify an acceptable range for moisture.

Before it’s game on, the direction of the flooring should be decided and discussed with your contractor. In most cases, plank flooring should be installed perpendicular to the support joists of a conventional subfloor. Concrete allows you to install in whichever direction you’d like.

All of the above tips work for unfinished and prefinished floors, and now it’s time for the install.

6. Underlayment, expansion gaps, vents and the install!

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Depending on the type of flooring being installed, an underlayment typically goes down onto the subfloor. If you have a floating floor, then the contractor may put down a soundproofing layer. Some flooring will be glued down with an adhesive.

The installer should leave some expansion room between the walls and any pipes or objects that stick up out of the floor. The room should also be made at doorways and door frames. So don’t be surprised if you see these spaces; these expansion gaps are there on purpose (and important, too) and will be covered by the trim.

Regarding heating and cooling air vents in your floor, you can purchase the metal ones like you commonly see in big box stores, but you can also upgrade to vents that match your wood flooring that go in flush as if part of the flooring itself.

At this point, it’s time for the install! If it’s a prefinished floor, once the installation is complete, you are free to walk on it. The trim can go back on, and furniture can be put back in place. If it is an unfinished floor, then the sanding, staining and finishing process begins, which can take as little time as a couple of days or as long as a week.

An unfinished floor will be sanded, so your contractor should cover doorways and HVAC ducts to contain the dust. They may use dust containment machinery, such as a portable dust collector, to help aid in the process.

Depending on the type of stain and finish used, it may require the homeowner to be out of the house temporarily because of the fumes. After the contractor says the floor is completely dried and cured, then furniture can be moved back in place, and you can enjoy your new floor.

7. Caring for your new floor.

This is easy to do by placing mats at all exterior doorways to capture grit and grime. Use protective pads under your furniture. Clean often and well, with quality products designed for wood floors.

For all these steps mentioned in this blog, it is best to discuss these with your contractor before you begin.

If you have any questions about flooring or installation, please contact us today through our website or by phone, 877.215.1831.