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All About Hardwood

Choosing Hardwood Flooring

» All About Wood Flooring  
» What type of finish for your hardwood floor?
» Wood Flooring Species
» Underlayment/Adhesives
» Pre-finished or site-finished hardwood floors?
» Design Elements

Pre-Installation Information

» Installation Methods
» Tools for Hardwood Flooring
» Moisture Testing
» Acclimation of Hardwood Floors To The Jobsite

Getting It Done

» Preparing the Room/Smoothing The Subfloor
» Dealing With Moisture
» Installation of Hardwood Floors On Concrete
» Installation Prefinished Nail or Staple Down
» Installation of Floating Hardwood Floor 
» Maintaining the Floor

Additional Articles

» Finish your Hardwood Floors on Site
» Restoring old hardwood Floors

All About Area Rugs

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Underlayments, Adhesive, Finishes

For a good-looking, long-lasting floor, start by choosing the right product for your situation. Some wood flooring is not suitable for installation on or below grade.
Depending on the flooring and where you're installing it, you might need a plywood underlayment, a vapor barrier, or a plastic-foam underlayment. If you're fastening the flooring to the subfloor, you'll need adhesive—except for self-stick parquet tiles.
For unfinished flooring, you'll need a finish as soon as the floor is laid. For prefinished boards, you'll need one when the existing finish wears off.

Sometimes you can lay new wood flooring over an existing subfloor. An extra layer of plywood underlayment adds strength and provides a smooth surface. Smoothness is especially important under parquet. For this, 1/2-inch or 3/8-inch underlayment-rated plywood will do fine.
To lay strip or plank flooring parallel to the joists, you need an extra-strong subfloor—a minimum of 11/8 inches is recommended. Adding a layer of 5/8-inch plywood over an existing subfloor does the trick.

What goes underneath depends on the kind of flooring and where you're installing it.
* Polyethylene (plastic) vapor barriers are used over concrete subfloors to keep moisture from creeping into the wood. They're not a solution to a moisture problem, just insurance in normal situations. In some areas, vapor barriers are also advised over wood subfloors. Ask your dealer.
* Rolled plastic-foam underlayment acts as a cushion and a sound deadener under floating floors. The material is laid loose on the subfloor or existing floor.


It's easy to get the right adhesive for the flooring you're
installing— just read the label. It'll tell you:
* What type of flooring it holds down (strip or parquet)
* What wood species it's good for
* How many square feet the can covers
* What size notched trowel to buy
* What product to use to clean up
Pay attention to the adhesive's "open time, " which is also marked on the label. This is the length of time the adhesive is workable before it dries. Only apply as much adhesive as you can cover with flooring before it dries. If it dries before you've set your flooring, scrape it off and apply new.

Surface finishes
stay on top of the floor, forming a durable, moisture-resistant surface that's fine for use in kitchens and other potentially wet areas. They shouldn't be waxed. Some applications are considered difficult to use and should be left to the pros. (See the chart at right.)
Penetrating sealers, on the other hand, soak into the wood and harden, sealing it against dirt and some stains. They're available combined with a stain for added color. A wax finish applied on top adds abrasion resistance and a soft shine. Don't use sealers and wax where they might get wet.
If you find dried adhesive smears on the flooring surface after you've finished your installation, don't panic. They'll clean up easily with a citrus-based cleaner. Just use a clean rag and follow the product directions on the container.


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