When you install hardwood floors over concrete, there are only a few steps to take. Follow these steps with care to safely complete the installation yourself.
1. Remove Anything Standing Between You and the Concrete
While pulling up carpet, laminate, or any other flooring is obvious; they aren’t the only things that need to be removed before you can install hardwood floors. Your baseboards will need to be taken out, as well, to ensure the new flooring has no gaps around the edges of the walls. If you’re careful while removing the baseboards, you should be able to reuse them. You can even spruce them up by sanding any paint off or staining them the same color as the new floor.
Look to see if your concrete has paint or not. If it is, the varnish may prevent the adhesive from working correctly. Don’t worry, though. You can rent a concrete grinder from most big-box home improvement stores. You can even call around your local tool rental shops or hardware stores to see if they offer concrete grinder rentals.
Once you have the hardware you need, carefully grind the paint from the concrete. You’ll want to wear protective gear, like goggles and a mask, while you do this. You don’t want to inhale any concrete dust or get some in your eyes. Make sure you remove all the paint and sweep up any dirt or debris that might be left behind.
2. Protect Your Floor From Moisture
Moisture and moisture vapor is your hardwood’s natural enemy. To combat them, you’ll need to apply a moisture barrier to the floor before the flooring can be laid out. Open any doors or windows in the room, to provide ventilation. Follow any and all instructions on the barrier’s packaging, and start at the side of the room opposite the door. Once the barrier is applied, you don’t want to step on it.
Let the moisture barrier set for 24 hours. Before you step back in the room, lightly touch the floor – if it’s still tacky to the touch, it hasn’t set all the way and will need to be left alone a little longer.
3. Lay out the Flooring Materials
It’s time to start laying down your floorboards. Depending on the type of flooring you chose, do this in one of two ways:
If you have floating floorboards, you don’t need to worry about using an adhesive (If you’re unfamiliar with floating floorboards, they’re boards that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle). The edges of each board click into place with the boards around it, creating a solid floor.
After you’ve measured the room and made sure you have the correct amount of flooring, the installation can start. You can lay down a foam layer as you go but you don’t have to. The foam will help if you want a cushion between the boards and the concrete, which can help muffle sound.
If you decided to use any boards that don’t click together, you need to apply adhesive while you place the boards. Just like when you apply the moisture barrier, start at the back of the room and work towards the door. Don’t administer all the adhesive at once. Instead, work in small sections. Let the adhesive dry for 24 hours after you install the flooring.
No matter the type of hardwood you’re using, be sure to cut the boards as you work. Don’t measure the room and assume how many boards need to cut, or you’ll likely run into trouble. You will also want to leave a small half-inch gap between the flooring and wall. Wood doesn’t stay one size, and you want to make sure it has room to expand.
4. Finally, Add the Finishing Touches
Now it’s time to finish up. Reinstall your baseboards and trim and clean up the room. Be sure to take a moment to admire your work, too. There’s nothing like a job well done.