Install Nail-Down Solid Wood Flooring: Site Preparation

This section is designed to answer the following:
  • How to prepare your room for flooring installation?
  • What is required as a subfloor?
  • Does it need to be equalized in the home prior to install?
  • Does it matter what width of flooring I buy?
  • Are there special issues associated with a new house?

NOTE: This is not meant to replace a professional installer, but rather to help our customers understand the process and offer some guidance to those that wish to install the flooring themselves.

What subfloor is considered adequate?

The National Hardwood Flooring Association recommends that all 3/4″ flooring be nailed down onto a minimum of 5/8″ tongue and groove plywood. Alternate sheet products like Aspenite are not considered to be suitable substitute.

Should I do anything to the subfloor before installing MIRAGE flooring?

It is essential that the subfloor be screwed down every 6-8″ to the underlying floor joists. It’s a good idea to jump around on every corner of the floor, to locate any remaining squeaks. Add additional screws and where necessary reblock the floor from underneath in any areas that persist in being noisy. Don’t let anyone convince you that squeaking can be solved by nailing down your flooring. At that point, it is usually too late!

Are there any special considerations, for new home installations?

New houses are notorious for very high humidity. You have cement foundations drying, new paint and drywall, all adding moisture into the new home’s environment. It is a great idea to spend ten dollars and buy a humidistat to measure the relative humidity in your home.

You should not bring into the home or even think of installing a new wood floor in Northern Ontario until the humidity is below 55%. If installed under excessively high humidity it will instantly swell and compress the edges of the wood flooring. During the first dry winter these same boards will show significant cracks as they react to a much dryer environment.

Do I need to lay down paper under the wood floor?

This is commonly referred to as a vapor retarder. If your flooring is being laid over a damp basement or crawl space or in any situation where you are concerned about moisture coming from underneath the floor, it is well advised to lay 15 lb felt paper underneath the wood floor, but remember this is not a perfect solution for preventing water penetration. (maybe rethink using wood floor at all, in situations of high moisture)

If on the other hand you are laying floor on a main level, where often basement humidity is not an issue, using felt paper is not necessary.

It is quite common to hear that we should install felt paper to stop squeaks— Felt Paper does not stop squeaks — usually squeaks are caused by subfloor movement against floor joists or floor board movement between boards, when not enough nails have been used during installation. Felt paper will not help either of these conditions.

Do I need to bring the flooring into my house ahead of time?

NO! At Lacasse Fine Wood Products, and at the MIRAGE factory all the flooring is kept in a humidity controlled environment and manufactured to a moisture content suitable to the Northern Ontario climate.

“Equalizing” a floor, would be only necessary if the flooring was not at the correct moisture content to start off with……. and then I would be very nervous to sell the product as I know proper onsite acclimatization is messy at best.

To put it into context, we dry lumber here, from logs, every day. On average, it takes 45 days in a forced environment with heat and very large industrial fans, to encourage oak to give up the moisture that naturally exists in it’s cells. What good do you think it would do to your floor to let it sit in your home for three days packaged up in boxes stacked up on top of each other.

As best case scenario it would only change the moisture content of the top few pieces, leaving the rest of the wood as it was. Flooring must be made to the correct moisture content– at the time of manufacturing — to lay a consistent, uniformly moving floor.

Exceptions may occur in other areas of the country where the environment is consistently overly dry or overly humid. In these cases effective “acclimatization” can only be achieved by laying out all the wood flooring across the room so that each piece of wood is exposed to local humidity conditions, representative of the MID-POINT of your humidity fluctuations in any one year.. then let to sit until it comes to equilibrium with this environment. This is where it is best to ask a LOCAL professional installer that has experience in your particular corner of the world, for recommendations!

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