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Brands differ in their capabilities and limitations. ALWAYS follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for each individual flooring choice when installing or making other decisions regarding your project.

Most people simply love the way wood flooring enhances a room. It gives a room a sense of permanence, stability and warmth. Even in a small house with minimal square footage, wood floors give a house a well-crafted, “high-end” appearance. In fact, 90 percent of realtors say that wood floors help a home sell faster and for more money.

There are many good reasons why wood flooring may be right for your home. There are also a few good reasons why wood flooring might not be the right choice for you. It’s definitely worth the time to educate yourself about the benefits and limitations of wood before you make the investment.

Among the reasons to choose wood are:

- Wood floors tie a room together, yet complement virtually any furniture, artwork or overall style.

- The wide range of species, colors and patterns offer endless design possibilities.

- Wood floors are easy to clean thoroughly. They’re ideal for people with allergies, asthma or other respiratory problems, because dust particles, pollen and dust mites stay on the surface where they can be wiped up.

- For the price of a high-quality carpet installation, a well-maintained hardwood floor can easily last beyond a 30-year mortgage, while carpets are replaced an average of three times in that same time span.

Before Considering Wood, Consider What’s Under It

Before looking into the merits of various wood floor types, wood species, finishes and all the other considerations, it’s extremely important to talk about the floor under the floor. Or, stated more simply: a wood floor is only as good as the subfloor.
Most solid hardwood flooring will need to be nailed or stapled through the face or blind-nailed through the tongue. The subfloor must be able to hold the nail or staple. For that reason, concrete won’t work. It’s also not a good idea to install a wood floor over particleboard because it doesn’t hold a nail well. And even if it does initially, it will soon work loose, leaving you where you started.

Plywood, OSB or tongue-and-groove decking products over joists are recommended for most installations.

Vinyl floors, glued-down carpets, and other existing flooring types are not suitable as subflooring and must be removed. Before installing solid wood flooring, get down to the solid, flat and dry subfloor. Remember (and, yes, we’re being repetitious), a wood floor is only as good as the subfloor.

On-Grade, Above-Grade, Below-Grade

Most appropriate installations are considered “on-grade,” meaning that the floor is level with the height of the exterior grounds with joists or post-and-beam construction supporting the floor. When installing on-grade, it’s important that the crawlspace or basement under the subfloor is well-ventilated. If ventilation is not adequate, moisture will likely result in cupping or warping of the hardwood months after installation.

"Above-grade",meaning upper floors of a multi-floor house or building may be appropriate for solid wood flooring if the subfloor is wood. Another consideration is the amount of flex in the floor prior to installation. While all floors have (and need) some flexibility, a more rigid floor is necessary for strip solid wood floors.

"Below-grade" situations, such as basements with cement floors, limit your choices considerably. Some parquets, as well as the solid wood Natural Reflections Line from Bruce can be installed over cement using a direct glue method. In general, though, cement floors mean moisture, which spells disaster for hardwood.

Your best bet would be to install an engineered wood floor over a moisture barrier using the floating installation technique.


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