When talking about hardwood flooring installation we are referring to solid wood flooring installation (3/8, 1/2, 5/8, ¾ inch thick) of any type or species of wood, with an unfinished or a factory prefinished face. In this category the only major difference will be between the unfinished and the prefinished hardwood floors, as the thickness or the width of the wood planks does not affect the process of installation very much. In the unfinished category the most common wood is Red Oak followed by White Oak, Maple, Cherry, Walnut, Hickory, Ash and Pine. Hardwood floors are typically installed with nails, staples or cleats onto a wooden subfloor base and over a layer of felt paper used for sound proofing. In planks wider than 5 ¼ inch construction glue is required to compensate for the distance between the nails. Even though the wood installation looks like a very complex process, for the flooring professional it is quite an easy task. As soon as the type of the wood is determined by the home owner, they will look for a starting point (straight line wall), calculate the necessary space for expansion and start laying down the wood. The prefinished wood floors are going to take longer to be installed because the installer has to make sure the prefinished face is protected at all time to avoid dents or scratches.
Laminate floors are very popular due to their easy installation and inexpensive price and ultimately for their wood look-a-like quality. A good quality laminate product will really trick the eye and make the floor look like the real deal. Usually, laminate floors are made out of recycled paper and are installed with a quick click locking device. The result is going to be a floating floor as the installation does not require any nails or glue. Laminate will be installed on a sound barrier that will reduce the noise and add comfort when walking on the floor. Some expansion space is required, but humidity and moisture doesn’t affect the laminate flooring as much as the real hardwood. That is why laminate is preferred in basements and commercial units.
This type of wood is called Engineered because it is made out of layers of different types of wood with a thin layer of the desired species on top. The engineered wood is preferred for the glue down installation in situations where raising the floor to accommodate a subfloor is not an option. It can also be nailed down to a wooden subfloor. The engineered wood is usually prefinished in the factory but you can also find it in the unfinished option. When shopping for a prefinished engineered floor you have to always keep in mind that time and traffic will ultimately affect the finish and the floor will have to be refinished. That is why you have to buy the engineered wood that has the thickest top layer, because that is the sanding layer. With the economy down, some of the manufacturers are making the top layer thinner to lower the cost of production. From ¼ inch a few years ago, now we find products with 1/8 inch and even 1/16 inch top layer. The last option is impossible to refinish without exposing the lower layers. The most common engineered wood installation can be found in buildings with a concrete slab. This type of wood will keep the level closer to the slab making the transition from wood to carpeted rooms or tiled areas nice and smooth. Engineered hardwood comes both in a click system or T&G and is usually recommended to be glued down.
When a staircase is covered by carpet 90% of the time the wood under the carpet will be plywood or any other inexpensive material. If a wooden staircase is desired, the carpet will be removed and the existing structure will be covered with the wood of choice. The treads can be made out of a single solid piece of wood or by installing regular strips of hardwood with a round edge nose. The risers can also be made out of a single solid piece or, if required, made out of regular hardwood boards. When the installation is done the wood will be sanded stained and coated.