Nothing makes a home feel warm and cozy like wood flooring. Fortunately today there are quick and convenient ways to lay wood flooring with pre-cut and fitted floor planks. It’s quick and easy to lay down and fit these planks, and there’s no two or three week onsite curing time, you just glue them together and after allowing 12 hours for the glue to cure, you’re ready to go.
And since engineered flooring like this (hardwood or softwood veneers applied to a pine or plywood base) has a factory applied finish, you can put furniture on it the day after it’s laid down. You don’t have to apply any other coatings on it, which would require additional days for treatment and drying.
A thin foam sheet is laid down beneath such engineered flooring to dampen noise and to provide cushioning for comfort when walking. The planks are glued together, making a floor that floats as a single unit. So you need to allow a 5/16ths-inch gap between the edge of the flooring and the baseboard or wall on both sides (5/8ths inch total) in order to allow the floor to expand.
If you don’t want to remove the existing baseboard, you can hide the expansion gap with quarter round or shoe molding. Or, if you wish, you can remove the baseboard and lay the flooring, then replace the baseboard back over the flooring. Just be certain that you nail the molding to the wall and not the flooring. Otherwise, your floor won’t be able to expand.
Once you have prepared the room to receive the flooring as outlined in Step 1 below, decide which way you’re going to have your planks run. It’s recommended that you run your planks parallel to the longest wall, because this usually looks best. Measure the width of the room and subtract 5/8ths of an inch to provide for the expansion gap. Then divide this number by the width of the flooring planks to figure out how many courses of planks you will need to complete your project.
Unless you’re very lucky, you will probably need to trim the last course to fit. If it looks like the final course will be at least 1 ½ inches wide, then you can just use a full width plank for your first course. If the last plank is going to be narrower, then rip enough off of the first plank to ensure that the last course will be wide enough to look good (at least 1 ½ inches).
Step 1: Trim the door casings
Trim the bottom of the casing in all doorways with a flush-cut dovetail saw to allow enough room for the flooring to fit underneath. In order to do this correctly, lay down a piece of the foam underlayment and a piece of flooring upside down (to protect the finish while sawing), then carefully make the cut while holding the saw flat against the plank.
Step 2: Install the foam underlayment
First vacuum the room, then cover the entire room with one layer of foam underlayment. Use a utility knife to trim it to fit. Butt the seams together and seal them with duct tape.
Step 3: Install the first course
Place spacer blocks along the starting wall, and lay the first plank down with its grooved end in the corner against one of the spacer blocks. Keep the cut ends against a wall and the tongues facing out as you set the flooring.
In order to fill in the pieces of the first course, put a spacer against the wall, then measure from it to the last plank installed. Mark this measurement on a new plank, starting with the grooved end so that it can mate with the tongue of the last plank. Then cut the plank to the required length.
Glue the end groove of the new piece, and then install it. Place a pry bar between the end of the plank and the spacer, and then leverage the joint together. Push the piece down into place. Use a damp cloth to wipe off excess glue.
Step 4: Install the rest of the flooring
Begin each new course with a length of flooring left over from the last cut, as long as it is more than 8 inches long. This will keep a pattern of staggered joints. Be certain to place spacers along the side walls before you lay down a plank.
In one continuous bead, apply glue into the groove of the plank. Now slide it against the previous row. Using a wood block as a buffer between the hammer and the plank, tap the plank tightly together into place.
Measure from the end of the row to the plank, then use details in Step 3 above to finish the course. Continue to install planks this way, finishing one course before beginning the next. Use painter’s tape to retain tightness of joints while the glue dries.
Step 5: Measure for the last course
When you are ready to begin the final course, measure to the near edge of a spacer placed against the wall to account for expansion. This will be the width of the last plank.
In cases where the plank has to span a doorway, you will have to notch the plank to fit inside the doorway. In order to determine the proper width, make your measurement to the nearer edge of the doorstop molding.
Step 6: Rip the plank to width
Using a fine tooth wood blade and cutting slowly and precisely, use a jigsaw to cut the plank to the needed width and also to cut the doorway notches, above center.
Step 7: Pry in the last course
This will require some coaxing and patience. Removing the spacers will give you some wiggle room, which you will need to complete this step. Employ the pry bar to pull this course against the previous course. You might need to slide it into place with the use of a block and hammer.
Leave the painter’s tape and spacers in for at least twelve hours to allow the glue time to cure. Then, after removing the tape and spacers, you can trim the room with molding.