A hardwood floor is manufactured as a complete piece of hardwood, usually 3/4 inch thick. Wood contracts and expands with changes in humidity and to mitigate this issue builders leave an expansion gap between the hardwood floor and the wall which is usually covered by baseboard trim.
Walnut (dark brown), teak, oak (reddish brown), pecan and maple (medium brown) are the commonly used hardwood species.
Hardwood floors range from relatively inexpensive maple to the more expensive walnut parquet. They can be purchased as either finished or unfinished planks and manufacturers offer a wide range of colour, density, grain pattern and texture for the discerning buyer.
Although unfinished hardwood offers convenience, finished hardwood offers a gleaming reflection that is not easy to find with the small gaps between unfinished planks.
Hardwoods like pecan and oak are denser and able to withstand unfavourable treatment. They are ideal for areas of high traffic such as entrances and family rooms. However, they work best in rooms that are free from moisture.
Although hardwood flooring is durable, its longevity is usually dependent on when and how it is installed. The following is a down-to-earth guide on how to install hardwood flooring.
1.) Prepare for the hardwood floor by pulling up your soft flooring. Remove the tack bar that is around the perimeter of the room. Use pliers to remove any staples that may be left in the room from your carpet. Sweep the floor.
2.) Install oriented strand board (OSB) on your sub-flooring. Place sheets of red rosin paper to cover the wafer-board. Staple the rosin paper as well.
3.) Mark areas where joists (beams that support the floor) are located.
4.) Measure about 3/4 inch out from the base board and use chalk or pencil to draw a line. Wood expands and contracts with changes in humidity and stopping the flooring at this point will allow for the expansion.
5.) Using the longest straight wall as your starting point, place one end of the board at the line you had earlier drawn and ensure the hardwood plank is perpendicular to the floor joist for maximum support.
6.) Nail the end of the board down into the sub-flooring and joist. Continue this process until all the flooring is installed.
Note: Before installing hardwood flooring, lay the boards on the floor to see how the final product will look like. It is also recommendable to buy extra flooring just in case your measurements are incorrect.