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Today we are sharing DIY engineered hardwood floor installation in our living room. Engineered hardwood is a type of flooring that is created with a core of hardwood, soft plywood or HDF and a top layer of hardwood veneer. It has many advantages, including greater stability and resistance to moisture. Our family room has heavy traffic so this type of flooring was a good choice.
There are several installation options. Solid Hardwood flooring install typically uses the nail-down method while engineered hardwood uses a glue-down method or a floating method. We are installing the floating floor method (which is a popular option) while glueing the tongue and grooves together. If you have ever wanted to install your own new flooring, this post is for you!
Engineered Wood Flooring
Prior to installation, it is necessary to allow the engineered hardwood boxes to acclimate indoors for 24-48 hours. This precautionary measure prevents the wood from expanding post-installation due to temperature variations between indoors and outdoors.
Engineered hardwood flooring requires a smaller expansion gap compared to traditional hardwood. However, it still needs a 1/2 inch gap to allow for movement. In other words, you can’t install it right the wall, instead, you need to leave a small gap.
To install engineered wood flooring over plywood with underlayment, begin by placing a layer of hardwood underlayment on top the plywood subfloor. The choice of underlayment depends on the type of flooring being installed. In our case, we opted for the Shaw Floor Flooring Manufacturer recommended underlayment that coordinates beautifully with the Fairbanks maple engineered wood planks we chose for the installation..
How to Install Engineered Wood Flooring Over Plywood
- Nail gun
- pry bar
- wood glue or flooring adhesive
- Tapping floor block
Step 1: Remove Old Carpet
Remove old carpet or existing flooring ensuring all tacks, staples and nails are removed. Be sure to clean your floor. This is considered the subfloor that your new floor will be installed on so be sure to clean good!
Step 2: Square up the room with a tile laser
A tile laser can identify any dips or ridges in the existing floor, which will allow you to make sure the new hardwood floors are installed properly, without any defects and ensure your floors are even and uniform.
Step 3: Determine Starting Point
We started the first row along the far side of the wall under the baseboard. Be sure to note, the Shaw Installation Guide requires a 1/2″ expansion gap around the perimeter of the room. You can use a chalk line to also create a straight starting point line.
The Installation Guide also requires a space of 1/16″ between the bottom of the baseboard and the top of the floor.
Be sure to review the Floating Engineered Hardwood Floor Installation Process Guide to ensure proper installation.
Our planks are by Shaw Floors in Maple Fairbanks (gold dust color). This engineered hardwood color is also similar.
Our planks are 5″ wide and vary in length so we decided to just create a random pattern.
Step 3: Glue pieces together
We decided to use the floating floor installation method which means, we glued the pieces together. We have also installed new floors over concrete floors as well, which came out great!
I simply added glue to the “groove” part of the wood and then inserted the “tongue” part of the wood.
Step 4: Tap Hardwood Pieces Together
We used a tapped block and hammer to ensure the hardwood pieces were tight.
We worked our way around the room starting with the first row, second row all the way to the last row.
The entire room took about 6 hours to install once we got going. It was so easy!
One little trick to save time is to lay 3 or 4 pieces of flooring up against the wood box with the groove side face up and then fill the groove with glue.
This little shortcut saved a ton of time. Simply insert the tongue into the groove, tap it tight and move on to the next!
We used a chop saw to the cut the pieces at the end of each row that abutted up against the wall, under the baseboard.
Depending on whether or not you remove your baseboard, you may have difficulty tapping the hardwood together as the tapping block and hammer won’t fit behind the wood because the wall will be in your way.
In the situation above, we used the flat bar and the tapping block to pull the pieces together but if you have a wall jack (see below), I would suggest using that instead of the method above. The method above will work, it’s just not as quick and efficient as the wall jack.
The wall jack interlocks the boards and secures them together. A pretty nifty little tool!
By not removing our baseboard (because the shiplap was in the way), we ended up with a small gap between the baseboard and the new floor.
Step 5: Add Corner or Trim Molding
We decided to use a quarter round molding which we nailed in place using an 18 gauge finish gun and a 1.5″ finish nail. It looked great once the nail holes were filled and the molding was painted white.
Step 6: Install Transition Piece
We used a 1/2″ thick oak reducer molding to transition from the hardwood floor in the family room to the tile in the kitchen.
I found some stain that was very similar to the hardwood floor color and added two coats to the oak transition piece. This is an easy way to tie two rooms together that have different flooring.
Can I just tell you, we absolutely LOVE this hardwood flooring and the room looks so much bigger, cleaner and brighter.
If you missed part 1 and part 2 of this project, check out last weeks posts where I shared the removal of the carpet and tips on prepping your floor for hardwood and prior to that, best tips for choosing hardwood flooring. You can see the final reveal here, installed engineered hardwood floors.
More Flooring Posts You Will Love
- Installing floating vinyl plank flooring over concrete subfloor
- How to install floating vinyl plank flooring over existing floor
- Vinyl plank floating flooring basement remodel
- How to install engineered hardwood flooring with staples
- Best tips for choosing hardwood floors
- Tips on prepping your floor for hardwood
The transformation that hardwood floors bring to a room is truly remarkable. Not only do they effortlessly elevate the overall aesthetic, but they also are easily maintained. With careful floor preparation and a helping hand from a friend, this flooring installation project is highly achievable.
What started as a hobby, Jessica’s blog now has millions of people visit yearly and while many of the projects and posts look and sound perfect, life hasn’t always been easy. Read Jessica’s story and how overcoming death, divorce and dementia was one of her biggest life lessons to date.