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When choosing what to put on the floor of your house, you need to consider several factors, including the cost, the aesthetic, the durability, and how easy the material is to clean. Hardwood flooring is a popular choice because it generally looks good and is not too expensive, it’s not difficult to clean, and it has high durability. Because wood can come in various styles, cuts, colours and species, and can be either solid or engineered, it is quite a versatile choice. See below for a list of a few of the advantages (and disadvantages) of hardwood flooring, and some tips on its installation.
Advantages and Disadvantages
One major advantage of hardwood flooring is its durability. This is especially true for engineered hardwood, which is composed of several different types of wood layered together to make it more resistant to moisture and heat. Solid hardwood, conversely, is more resistant to damage from dropping heavy objects, so the choice between which type to get is crucial depending on what the room is going to be used for. Hardwood flooring can also last a lifetime, only improving as it ages, and gives a rich look to your home’s interior. They can also improve the acoustics in a room, and they are actually the healthiest floors possible: they attract less dust and thus do not attract allergens or moulds that cause allergies.
However, to keep hardwood floors looking their best, they may require polishing every 3–4 years to maintain their finish, particularly in high traffic areas. The finish can be scratched fairly easily as well by things like high heels and pet nails – so even if there isn’t any damage to the underlying floor itself, it can look rather unsightly. The largest issue is water: hardwood flooring will be damaged by any pools of water that are allowed to stand, as seepage can cause the wood to warp. (Again, engineered wood is better in this case.)
Hardwood Floor Installation
Before you install hardwood flooring, make sure that your subfloor is level and that the flooring you choose is appropriate for your room’s temperature and humidity. Note that you cannot use a glue-down installation method with solid hardwood flooring, only with engineered flooring, so you may wish to hire an expert if you go with this type.
If you want to install solid hardwood flooring yourself, here are the steps:
- Arrange planks with the tongue side facing the middle of the room, and place spacers inside the expansion gap. You will need to pre-drill some holes for nails ¼ inch from the narrow side of the plank and ½ inch from the wall, at 6-inch intervals.
- For the first few boards, face-nail them because it’s hard to get a pneumatic nailer near the wall. Countersink and fill with matching putty, then blind-nail at 45 degrees through the tongue and countersink that as well.
- On the next row, lock the tongue and groove of the planks together and make sure they fit tightly. To create a stronger, better looking flooring pattern, stagger the ends six inches or so between the adjoining boards, cutting the end board if necessary.
- Repeat until you’re able to use the pneumatic nailer, which should be about 2–4 rows in. Make sure the flooring is protected by engaging the nailer’s protective boot. Also, take care that the expansion gap is maintained at each end of the room.
- For the final rows, switch back to hand-nailing and cut the pieces to fit for the last row. Measure from the wall to the board, not the tongue, and minus the expansion gap. If the final piece is less than one inch wide, apply some wood glue to the tongue and protect the wall by inserting the piece with a pry bar and a piece of scrap wood. If not, face-nail the last piece and then countersink and fill with putty.
- To finish up, install the required transition pieces and remove spacers, then cut the underlayment and reattach the baseboards and shoe mouldings to the wall – not the floor!
Hardwood flooring can be a beautiful and hard-wearing material to use in your house. Make sure that you choose the correct kind for your needs, and if you’re not all that handy yourself, consider calling a specialist to install it for you.