How to Install Engineered Flooring

How to Install Engineered FlooringCarried by nearly all brands, engineered flooring can be glued directly to a subfloor, floated on top, or stapled. Instructions, however, vary with manufacturer or product line and should be specifically followed. Although each product has directions, the general methods for how to install engineered flooring are described below.

Gluing down typically involves installing engineered flooring directly onto concrete. One of the more difficult approaches for how to install engineered flooring, gluing down ultimately should be done by a professional. When a professional goes to install the flooring, he or she spreads a trowel of adhesive over an area of three feet, or 12 rows of three inch wide boards, on the subfloor. The boards are then placed on top of the adhesive until the full area is covered. The process repeats over and over until the entire room is covered.

Gluing down makes engineered flooring sound like traditional solid hardwood. Installation costs, however, tend to be greater than those for other installation methods. The adhesive, a water-based, urethane-based, or acrylic substance, is 80 cents per square foot; ordinary glue should never be used to install engineered wood onto a subfloor. The process, additionally, takes 10 to 12 hours, and the space should be left overnight to dry.

Stapling is a traditional installation method used for installing engineered and solid hardwoods. A pneumatic tool makes the process less physically demanding. The planks must be installed over a proper subfloor, which includes 3/4ths of an inch CDX grade plywood, 3/4ths of an inch (23/32") OSB PS2 rated underlayment, minimum 5/8ths of an inch CDX grade plywood, Advantech, solid hardwood flooring, screed, or tongue and groove wood subflooring.

All staples have resin on the bottoms, which heats through the friction of going through the hardwood and acts like an adhesive. For a tighter fit, the boards may also need to be tapped.

Floating, or locking, floors are the easiest to do yourself. Floating or lock flooring lines are installed through glue and tap, click lock, or lock and fold methods. Because the flooring sits on underlayment and not directly onto the subfloor, the engineered hardwood can be installed over particle board, gypcrete, tile, asbestos, or practically any material.

While the floating methods for how to install engineered flooring vary slightly, a few points need to be kept in mind. First, the floor acts like a unit once all boards are attached, and as a result, an expansion area must be between them and the wall. Otherwise, the floor may tent or buckle from heat or humidity. To create the expansion space, use scraps between the planks and the wall.

Directions vary for floating flooring from each manufacturer, but in general, the underlayment must be rolled out and the planks added from left to right, starting with the longest parallel wall. Boards need to be staggered 18 to 24 inches apart and then attached. As you attach the planks, check for gaps and proper alignment.