Hardwood Floors on ConcreteInstalling hardwood floors on concrete is a very complex task. It requires that you provide a moisture barrier between the flooring and the concrete slab. Most often, plywood is used for the primary barrier, plus other materials that provide additional barriers. The most important thing when installing hardwood flooring on a concrete slab is that you guard against excessive moisture permeating the wood and ruining it. If you’re not extremely familiar with the basics of flooring and if you’re not an accomplished handyman, this task may well be out of your reach.

The Basics

There are several different ways to glue a hardwood floor to a concrete slab when installing hardwood floors on concrete. One of the most common ways is to use mastic. This is a very strong adhesive that is used to glue the hardwood floor. A newer method of installing wood flooring over concrete is to simply create a floating subfloor. Most often, a plywood subfloor is a fixed to the concrete slab by various means. These may include asphalt or mechanical fasteners. The hardwood floor, in the past, was also sometimes separated from the subfloor by what were called sleepers, which were two by fours laid perpendicular to the lay of the floor itself. This method is no longer used for hardwood-on-concrete installs as it tended to result in a floor that was much higher than was practical.

The plywood you lay on the concrete has to overlap at the gaps. This provides a seamless barrier against moisture. The moisture content of the concrete will be very important to how well the floor lays, and is crucial when installing hardwood flooring on concrete. If the concrete has been freshly poured, you need to let it dry thoroughly before attempting any of this. Once you’ve got the layers of plywood down, you’re ready to affix the hardwood floor to the plywood subfloor. If you’re not sure how to use a circular saw, how to nail boards so that the nails don’t show and how to perform the other complex tasks that go along with installing a wood floor, again, you may want to leave the task of installing on concrete up to a professional.

Installing on concrete with Elastilon®, a new moisture barrier from Europe

Putting the Floor Down

Installing wood floors on concrete starts by choosing where you’re going to install the first row. This row has to be separated from the wall it’s situated against by at least a 1/8 of an inch gap. There are several different types of glue you can use to affix the hardwood to the plywood, as well. Most often, experienced flooring experts prefer to nail the planks down with what’s called a toe nail, driven through the tongue. This technique ensures that the nails aren’t visible in the boards.

You may find out that you have a perfectly viable subfloor when you’re getting ready to install your hardwood flooring. Installing wood flooring on a subfloor that’s up to the job is a much easier task. If you need assistance working with concrete, asphalt or any of the powerful adhesives involved for wood-on-concrete installs, be sure to ask an expert.

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