How to Install Engineered Hardwood – Nail Down Method

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Hi, I'm professional house planner Jack  Thomasson, and I've had the privilege of  

working with Shaw Floors on custom home projects  for television and magazines across North America.  

Today I'm going to show you how to install  Shaw's engineered hardwood flooring. Factory  

finished engineered hardwood is the fastest  growing segment of the hardwood industry,  

and it's easy to see why. Engineered hardwood is  real wood. It's layers of hardwood joined together  

to make it an even stronger floor, and the top  layer is every bit as natural and beautiful as  

solid hardwood. Plus, engineered hardwoods are  more stable than solid hardwood and can even  

be installed in basements. Engineered hardwoods  can be installed using the floating, glue down,  

and nail or staple methods. So let's get started.  Before beginning the installation process,  

be sure to read all manufacturer's instructions  carefully. Some of the most important things  

you can do to ensure a successful flooring  installation take place before you install  

the first plank. For any hardwood installation,  it's important to place the hardwood in the room  

where you'll install it for at least 48  hours so the planks can acclimate to the  

home's temperature and humidity levels. Why? Your  flooring will expand and contract. That's natural,  

but if a doesn't acclimate to the room the  expansion and contraction could be so severe  

that it could buckle the entire floor. You'll  need to maintain a temperature between 65 and  

75 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of  35 to 55 percent for a minimum of 5 days prior to  

the delivery of the floor, as well as during and  after installation. When the flooring arrives,  

open the ends of the cartons and leave them  stacked no more than three cartons high in  

the room where the flooring will be installed.  Another important part of your prep work is  

moisture testing. Moisture under your floor can  be its worst enemy. Always test wood sub floors  

and wood flooring for moisture content using a  pen type moisture meter. Take readings of the  

subfloor a minimum of 20 times per thousand square  feet and average the results. In most regions,  

a dry subfloor that is ready for installation  has a moisture content of 12% or less. For plank  

flooring three inches or wider, there should be  no more than a 2% difference between acclimated  

wood and subfloor. Then you'll want to make sure  your subfloor is clean, dry, and flat within 1/8  

of an inch in any 6-foot section. You will need  to remove quarter round and undercut door frames  

to provide necessary clearance for your new  engineered hardwood flooring. The materials  

and tools you'll need to install your engineered  hardwood: a tape measure, painter's tape, hammer,  

moisture meter, handsaw, electric miter saw,  table saw, pry bar, safety glasses, dust mask,  

tapping block, 1/2 inch spacers, transitions  and moldings, a drill, air hose, 15-pound  

roofers felt, wood filler, inline air regulator,  compressor, and pneumatic nailer or stapler.  

After the subfloor has been properly cleaned  and prepped, cover the subfloor with 15-pound  

asphalt felt paper. The material will help keep  the floor clean and prevent moisture from below.  

Once you've taken care of the subfloor, it's  time to move on to planning your installation

You'll want to pull planks from multiple boxes to  achieve an even color variety across the floor.  

First, you need to decide which direction to  run the planks. Ideally you should install  

the board's perpendicular to the direction of  your floor joists. Once you know the direction,  

you'll decide your starting wall. Some homeowners  find it easiest to run planks parallel to an  

exterior wall because they are often straighter  than interior walls. Now it's time to begin laying  

out the flooring, also called racking the floor.  Use random length planks from several different  

cartons. You'll want each row to use a variety of  lengths to avoid a pattern appearance. Make sure  

the groove side of each plank faces your starting  wall. It's important to stand back and examine the  

board arrangement in good light to make sure  your layout has the look you want before you  

begin installation. Now what I'm about to tell you  may be the most confusing part of an installation.  

We're going to determine the size of our first  and last rows. Why? Because the room will look  

more beautiful if the first and last rows are  equal size. The sign of a new installer is a  

first row that's six inches wide and a last row  that's three. Before you start your first row,  

measure the room. Divide by the width of the  flooring planks you're installing. How many  

planks will it hold? Half of what remains will be  the size of the first row and the other half will  

be the size of the last. When cutting the first  row and removing part of the width, you'll want  

to keep the side with the tongue. When cutting  the last row, keep the groove side. Keep in mind,  

though, that no row should ever be less than  2 inches wide. Now that you've established  

the layout and figured the width of your first  and last rows, we're going to fit the first two  

rows together. Start with the first plank in  the right corner and connect the second plank  

at the end joint. Continue this process until you  reach the end of the first row. You will probably  

need to cut the final plank to fit. Now here's  something you need to understand before you make  

your first cut: expansion space. You will need to  maintain an expansion space of a half-inch around  

the perimeter of the entire room, including walls,  cabinets, and other obstacles. You can use spacers  

to help maintain consistent expansion space. Why  is this necessary? Wood is a natural product and  

it will expand and contract slightly with changes  in temperature and humidity. The expansion space  

will give your floor room to expand and contract.  So, at this point, you have your first row in  

place. Now you'll add the second row plank by  plank, again from right to left. Connect the  

planks using the tongue of the first row and the  groove of the second row. Cut the length of the  

last plank as needed. Step back and have a look.  All end joints should be separated by a minimum  

of 16 inches in your first four rows to create  greater stability in these foundational rows.  

Check and make sure the end joints in these  first two rows are staggered appropriately.

Install the first row of starter planks along the  chalk line or straightedge. Secure the pieces into  

position with the tongue facing away from the  starter wall and facing toward you. Drill pilot  

holes through the face of the plank every  six inches, preferably in the dark grain,  

approximately one inch from the back edge  of the board and secure planks with one inch  

finishing nails. Countersink nails and fill  holes with appropriate colored wood filler,  

removing excess filler from surface. Blind  nail at a 45 degree angle through the tongue  

one inch to two inches from the end joints  and every six inches in between along the  

length of the starter boards. If needed,  use a tapping block to help engage the  

board's together until the tongue and groove is  flush and tight and no gaps are present between  

adjacent planks. It's important to remember to  never use a rubber mallet or hammer directly  

on the flooring to engage the tongue and  groove as this can damage your flooring.

You can install the trim and moldings which  are key to a beautifully finished floor.  

Quarter-round covers the expansion gap around  the perimeter of the room and gives the room a  

polished look. In doorways less than six feet  wide, you'll need a transition piece. Use a T  

molding if connecting to a floor of the same  height or a reducer if connecting to a floor  

of a different height. These pieces create  a safe and attractive transition. If you're  

installing the hardwood floors on stairs or at  a step down, you'll need a stair nose. There are  

flush stair nose and overlap stair nose options.  The flush stair nose is used for nail, staple,  

or glue down installations, while the overlap  stair nose is used for floating floors. Be sure  

to sweep or vacuum without using the beater  bar and clean the floor with a proper wood  

floor cleaner. You don't want to use oil-based  products on your hardwood floor because it can  

cause a buildup on the hardware that dulls  the appearance. Store any unused materials  

in a dry place and case repairs are needed in  the future. And remember, always use plywood  

or hardboard as protection when moving heavy  appliances or furniture across your new floor.

Then it will be time to relax and enjoy your  beautiful new engineered hardwoods from the Shaw  

Floors. Best of luck on your installation and if  you have any questions or need more information,  

visit the website below or contact the  Shaw product specialist support team.