J. Lo couldn’t be more right. We DID break a sweat on the floor. If you are still in doubt if installing hardwood floors is worth your sweat, and the bite out of your budget, then read what homeowners have to say on this topic according the 2017 Remodeling Impact Report of the National Association of Realtors (NAR): “Eighty percent of homeowners have a greater desire to be home since completing the project, sixty-eight percent have an increased sense of enjoyment when they are at home, and seventy-nine percent have a major sense of accomplishment when they think of the project.”
Wood flooring goes from $3 to $10 per square foot (or even $50 in some places in NYC) for the materials alone, and you will spend around the same range per square foot in labor to install.
Step 1: choose your wood
First, you have to decide if you want to go for engineered or solid wood. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Engineered wood is constructed of layers of both hardwood and plywood, where solid hardwood is a solid piece of wood with no layers. Because of the way it is constructed, engineered hardwood is said to be less prone to warping and bowing the way a hardwood floor might in moist areas. Solid hardwood floors on the other hand, definitely have a lot of character. Whatever you choose, both options create a warm décor, and feel good under your feet. We decided to go for select white maple, a solid hardwood, cut in different widths (4 to 9 inches – 10 to 23cm) and various lenghts (up to 12 feet – 3,5 meters).
If you haven’t done that yet, it’s time to rip out your old floor! Ours was a new, but ugly dark brown laminate, which wasn’t even glued to the subfloor. It came off very easily and the job was done in just a couple of hours. If you need to level your floor before nailing in the hardwood, make sure to do some research on that. We skipped this step since ours was pretty smooth.
Step 2: let your wood acclimate
Your old floor has been taken out and the hardwood you have been anxiously waiting for has finally been delivered. You are excited and want to start your warrior project right away. Stop and take a break, unless you want all your cash to flow through the drain. Hardwoods need to acclimate and get used to their new environment. For proper acclimation to occur, the temperature and humidity of the hardwoods must match the temperature and humidity of the room they are in. If not, a lot can go wrong — the boards can shrink or expand way too much, buckle, cup, or develop deep structural damage. Not something you are looking for. Seven to ten days should be enough to get the wood acclimated; temperature should be ideally between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15 and 27 degrees Celsius) and humidity level should be around the yearly average for the area.
Step 3: rent or buy your installation tools
You will need the following tools for the installation:
- A measuring tape
- A miter or table saw (to cut your strips or planks)
- Waxed paper underlayment for wood flooring (used as a moisture-barrier and it allows the wood floor above it to breathe)
- Flooring stapler (and staples)
- A rubber mallet
We decided to buy a miter saw since we knew we could use it for many other future projects, and to rent the flooring stapler and wood buffer for the duration of the installation.
Step 4: ready to start!
Once the installation is finished, the floor needs to be sanded. Sanding a new unfinished floor is a necessary chore because sanding levels the edges of the floorboards, which can vary from one another by as much as one fourth of an inch. For the protective finishing coat of your floors, you can opt for polyurethane, or for natural oils. Oils work by fortifying and sealing the wood fibers, while urethane works by walling them off with a plastic-like barrier over the wood. Ultimately, this means that with an oiled floor you’re walking on the natural wood surface, whereas with urethane, there is actually a protective layer between your feet and the wood. Both have their pros and cons, but buffing with a natural oil was a no-brainer for us, and we haven’t regret for a split second. The floors are screaming to be walked on barefoot. Or danced on! J. Lo, welcome anytime. Reminder: high heels NOT allowed.