According to a National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) survey, hardwood floors top the list of most desirable flooring options, with 66 percent of homeowners stating they would choose them for their dream home. Moreover, it could be a smart financial decision. According to a CNN report, adding hardwood to your interiors increases home values by an average of 3 to 5 percent.
With that said, installing hardwood floors requires some planning and preparation. This post discusses how long it takes to install this type of flooring and the steps involved.
How long it takes to install hardwood flooring
How long it takes to install hardwood flooring depends on several factors, including:
- The condition of your subfloor
- The size of your project
- The number of contractors on-site
- The shape of your rooms
- The installation method the contractor users
The average installation time for hardwood floors is about 2 to 4 days for a typical project of around 1,000 square feet. However, this can vary depending on the complexity and size of your project. For instance, if your rooms are irregular or craftsmen need to cut around door frames and alcoves accurately, installation work will take longer. Similarly, if you have a single large room with a simple layout, fitting the new floor may only take a few hours.
Custom features can also add to the installation time. Waiting longer for work to finish is common if rooms have borders, patterns, or inlays.
Size also matters. Small contractors may be unable to scale their operations to reduce overall installation time, meaning a 4,000-foot project may take 8 to 16 days to complete.
The process of installing hardwood floors
The hardwood floor installation process involves several steps and requires specialist tools and materials. The following is a general overview of the process but it may vary depending on the type and size of the floor, the subfloor condition, and the personal preferences of the installer.
You should always hire professional contractors to install your hardwood flooring.
- Prepare the subfloor
The first step is to prepare the subfloor – the surface on which you will install the hardwood.
Subfloors should be clean, dry, structurally sound, and level, capable of taking hardwood placed on top. Contractors begin by removing any nails, staples, or debris from the surface (or hammering it down so it doesn’t intrude on the flooring material above). They also close gaps, cracks, or holes with wood filler or leveling compound. Lastly, they measure the subfloor to ensure it is the right size and mark out the orientation of the planks.
- Acclimate the hardwood planks
The second step is to acclimate the hardwood planks, allowing them to adjust to the temperature and humidity of the room they will call home. This process prevents the warping or expansion of the wood after installation. Most contractors store material in its original packaging in a flat and dry area for 48 hours before installation.
- Install the underlayment
The underlayment is a thin layer between the subfloor and the hardwood planks. It provides cushioning, sound absorption, moisture barrier, and thermal insulation for the hardwood floor, enhancing your quality of life.
Various types of underlayment are available, including rubber, foam, felt, and cork. Contractors roll the material out and cut it to fit the size and shape of the room. They then overlap and tape the edges of the underlayment together to provide a clean break.
- Install the hardwood planks
Next, contractors install the hardwood planks. The installation process usually starts from one wall and works across the room.
The first row of planks should be aligned with the longest wall or the direction of light in the room. Installers should then place more planks side-by-side, leaving a small gap between them to take account of expansion. (They will fill these gaps later with molding or other materials). As work proceeds, planks are staggered, preventing end joints from lining up in adjacent rows.
- Finish the hardwood floor
The final step is to finish the flooring. For instance, nail holes or gaps between planks should be filled with wood putty or caulk that matches the color of the floor. Installers should also clean the floor to remove dust and debris and seal it with finishing products to enhance its appearance and durability.
Choosing the Right Hardwood Flooring: Types, Durability, and Suitability
Selecting the perfect hardwood flooring for your home involves considering various factors such as type, durability, room suitability, and climate compatibility. Additionally, it’s essential to pay attention to the wood species, colors, finishes, and plank widths that best suit your aesthetic preferences and practical needs. In this section, we will discuss each of these aspects to help you make an informed decision when choosing your hardwood flooring.
- Types of Hardwood Flooring
There are two primary types of hardwood flooring: solid and engineered.
- Solid Hardwood: Solid hardwood is made from a single piece of wood, usually ¾ inch thick. It is known for its durability and can be sanded and refinished multiple times, making it a long-lasting option. However, solid hardwood is sensitive to humidity and temperature changes, which can lead to warping or cupping in extreme conditions.
- Engineered Hardwood: Engineered hardwood consists of multiple layers of wood or plywood, with a top layer of hardwood veneer. This construction makes engineered hardwood more dimensionally stable and less prone to warping or cupping than solid hardwood, making it suitable for basements and other areas where humidity levels may vary. However, the thinner top layer means that engineered hardwood can typically only be refinished once or twice.
- Durability and Suitability
The durability of hardwood flooring depends on the wood species and its hardness. The Janka hardness scale measures the resistance of a wood species to denting and wear, with higher numbers indicating greater durability. Some popular hardwood species and their Janka hardness ratings include:
- Oak: 1,290 (red oak) – 1,360 (white oak)
- Maple: 1,450
- Hickory: 1,820
- Brazilian Cherry: 2,820
Choose a wood species with a higher Janka rating for high-traffic areas or homes with pets to ensure the floor’s longevity.
When considering the suitability of hardwood flooring for various rooms, keep in mind that solid hardwood may not be the best choice for areas with high moisture levels, such as bathrooms or basements. Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, is more resistant to humidity and temperature changes, making it a suitable option for these spaces.
- Aesthetic Preferences: Wood Species, Colors, Finishes, and Plank Widths
The appearance of hardwood flooring is influenced by the wood species, color, finish, and plank width.
- Wood Species: Different wood species offer a variety of grain patterns and colors. For example, oak has a prominent grain pattern, while maple features a more subtle, uniform appearance. Exotic wood species like Brazilian cherry or tigerwood can provide unique and striking visuals.
- Colors: Hardwood flooring is available in a wide range of colors, from light and natural to dark and rich. Your choice of color should complement your home’s interior design and personal preferences.
- Finishes: The finish of your hardwood floor affects its overall appearance and durability. Pre-finished hardwood floors come with a factory-applied finish that is durable and low-maintenance. Site-finished hardwood floors are sanded, stained, and sealed on-site, allowing for greater customization and a more uniform finish.
- Plank Widths: Hardwood flooring planks come in various widths, from narrow strips to wide planks. Narrower planks create a more traditional look, while wider planks can make a room appear more spacious and contemporary.
When selecting hardwood flooring for your home, carefully consider the type, durability, room suitability, and climate compatibility, as well as your aesthetic preferences. By taking these factors into account, you can choose the perfect hardwood flooring that will enhance the beauty and value of your home for years to come.
Hardwood floors are not only a popular choice among homeowners but also a smart investment that can increase the value of your home [NWFA survey, CNN report]. As you embark on your hardwood flooring journey, remember that the installation time and process can vary depending on factors such as the condition of your subfloor, the size and complexity of your project, and the contractor you choose. By understanding the steps involved in the installation process and hiring experienced professionals like Matt’s Professional Flooring, you can ensure a smooth, efficient, and high-quality result.
At Matt’s Professional Flooring, we pride ourselves on our expertise and commitment to customer satisfaction. Our team of experienced professionals will guide you through the entire installation process, from preparing your subfloor to adding the finishing touches. Transform your home with the timeless beauty and durability of hardwood floors. Contact us today