Hardwood flooring has an excellent aesthetic appearance that can’t be replaced with any other flooring. But the main problem arrives during the installation procedure. Especially on a concrete subfloor, many may feel it troublesome to install hardwood flooring. In fact, some are skeptical about installing hardwood flooring on concrete.
All the confusion arises due to the lack of knowledge. As the subfloor of the hardwood floor affects the finishing and longevity of the flooring, knowing the suitability of a concrete subfloor is necessary. To clear out all the dilemmas regarding hardwood flooring installation and maintenance on concrete, I am here to discuss the matters.
From my experience in hardwood flooring, I have decided to write this piece discussing the installation and suitability perspectives of hardwood on concrete. So all who have a concrete base and want a layer of hardwood flooring, do stay with me and know all you should know about it!
6 Steps To Install Hardwood Flooring On Concrete: Know The Process
Be it in the living room or kitchen, the hardwood flooring should be finished and flat on the subfloor. And to get fine, plain, and uniform flooring all over a room, the subfloor has to be plain and the installation needs to be flawless.
Therefore, to make the installation correct and help you get stunning and plain hardwood flooring, I will start with the installation process. The installation process will include the preparation of the subfloor and the installation steps to help you get the best hardwood flooring ever.
Here are 6 steps to prepare and install hardwood flooring on concrete:
Step 1: Remove The Previous Flooring And Clear The Concrete
If the concrete subfloor is having any layer of floorings like carpet, plywood, veneer, padding, or tiles, you need to remove it completely. Take off the older layers of flooring from the subfloor. Clean out the tapes, nails, adhesives, tack strips, or any other materials that were there along with the flooring.
Note that you may need a grinder to remove the nails, strips, and adhesive.
Step 2: Pull Up The Baseboard
The layer of baseboard can act as an obstacle for the installation of the hardwood flooring. Also, the drywall can be affected if you don’t remove the baseboard from the lower part of the walls. In fact, you can think of installing a new layer of baseboard as it would look good with the newly installed hardwood flooring.
To remove the baseboard, use a utility knife to cut open the baseboard and detach it from the wall. With the help of a pry bar or spackle knife, pull up the baseboard from the wall. Now, the lower layer of the flooring is open and free for hardwood flooring installation.
Step 3: Clean And Grind The Concrete Subfloor
Remember that the concrete subfloor has to be plain, clean, and smooth for an effective installation of hardwood flooring. This is why grinding, polishing, and cleaning the concrete floor is mandatory to get a flat surface.
If the flooring has a layer of adhesive due to the previously installed flooring, clean it thoroughly with an adhesive remover or floor grinder. The grinder would not only rip off the layer of adhesive but make the rough surfaces even too. Once the grinder makes the flooring even and flat, you should sweep and mop the area properly. No layer of dust or debris should stay on the subfloor. So use a mild cleanser to clean the concrete subfloor. Treat the areas with mildew and mold with baking soda and make the surface hygienic and clean.
Step 4: Put On A Vapor Barrier
Now here comes a step that you must not skip. Note that concrete subfloor can become damp as moisture may travel from high-humidity areas to low-humidity areas. Now if you don’t put a moisture barrier on the concrete, the moisture from below would travel up to the hardwood flooring damaging the planks and the bondage between them.
Use a trowel at a 45-degree angle to apply the vapor barrier all over the concrete. As you apply the layer, level it moderately on the concrete. The rest will be done by itself.
Start from one end of the floor and keep applying while moving back to the doorway. Don’t walk on the moisture barrier or apply a double layer. Let the vapor barrier dry and settle on the concrete for 24 hours.
Note that the vapor barrier has an odor. Therefore, keep the room ventilated during the application and settling period.
Step 5: Start Installing The Hardwood Planks
Before you start installing the hardwood planks, planning the hardwood flooring direction is important. Ideally, the planks should be installed across the longest wall of the room. Now according to this direction, lay the planks on the dried-out vapor barrier. This would help you understand whether you need to cut and trim any planks or not. Note that the last seam of each plank should not match the seam of the adjacent plank. There has to be variation.
After planning on a layout, apply hardwood flooring adhesive on the surface. Don’t overapply the glue and work on small portions. Don’t spread it all over the flooring. After you apply it in a portion with a trowel or putty knife, put the planks on the glue. Then lock the plank with the adjacent plank with a click block. Next, you have to use painter’s tape along the edges of the planks. Keep doing this across the flooring.
Where the walls meet the walls, put on shims of ¼ inch. This will allow the planks to expand in case it happens. After installing all the planks, clean the adhesive that is there around the walls or on the planks along the seams. Let the planks settle on the concrete for a day.
Step 6: The Finishing Touch:
After the glue dries out and the planks are settled on the concrete subfloor, you have to remove the painter’s tape. Remove the shims as well. The transition portions can be installed now. Also, reinstall the baseboards or install a new layer.
And the installation process is complete!
4 Considerations Prior To Installing Hardwood Flooring On Concrete:
Before you install hardwood flooring on concrete, you have to consider a few factors. While it is possible to put a wood floor on a concrete subfloor, small mistakes can create a mess and hamper the longevity of the flooring. This is why you should take note of some factors to make the installation accurate.
From years of experience in this field, I have figured out some of the issues that should be taken care of. Here are such 4 considerations that you should keep in mind:
1. The Position Of The Concrete Slab:
In simple terms, the position of the concrete subfloor is named grade level. It is determined by the position of the concrete relative to the ground level. If it is at the same layer as the ground, it is called ‘on grade’. Similarly, ‘above grade’ is the level where the concrete position is above the ground. And the ‘below grade’ is where the slab is below the ground level.
Now this grade level can determine the right way of installing the hardwood flooring. It also controls the moisture level and the strength of the concrete. So the hardwood manufacturers would understand which hardwood should be installed in which process.
2. The Condition Of The Concrete Floor:
The condition of the concrete floor has to be suitable for the hardwood flooring. For instance, the broken concrete is dangerous for hardwood as moisture can go up. Also, cracked concrete means an uneven surface which isn’t the best for hardwood flooring.
Similarly, hardwood flooring should not be installed on new concrete. As wet concrete contains moisture, it requires time to settle on the ground. Even after 6 to 8 weeks, the concrete can release moisture. If you install the hardwood before it completely dries out, the vapor would go up to the wood damaging the flooring. So the condition of the concrete should be examined before hardwood flooring installation on concrete.
3. Moisture Content And Barrier:
If the room is not ventilated properly and generally damp, installing hardwood flooring is not the best idea. This is because, in a highly humid area, a concrete subfloor can release moisture that can affect the hardwood flooring. In such situations, you should avoid installing hardwood if the moisture content is uncontrollable.
Note that no matter whether the area is damp or not, if you install hardwood flooring, putting a moisture barrier is mandatory. As concrete may get damp during monsoon and winter, a vapor barrier has to be there between the flooring and the concrete.
4. The Installation Process:
Decide on how you want to install the flooring on the concrete. This would also depend on the grade level, the condition of the concrete, and whether you want permanent flooring or a temporary one. Also, the moisture level in the area would determine the installation process.
Most people don’t prefer the gluing of hardwood on the concrete due to moisture exposure. The alternatives are to install a plywood subfloor over the concrete and then place hardwood on it. Though an expensive and labor-intensive method, you may think of it for a long-lasting result.
You may also install floating hardwood flooring on the concrete. This installation is easy and cheap and offers a temporary layer that can be removed easily. Unlike gluing on the concrete or plywood, this installation lets you remove it easily. Also, it provides a uniform layer of flooring even if the concrete is a bit uneven.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hardwood Flooring On Concrete:
Can You Put Hardwood Flooring On Concrete?
People having a concrete base in their houses or offices often panic about installing hardwood flooring. Most people assume that it is not possible. However, you can put hardwood flooring on concrete.
As concrete releases moisture, you need extra protection before installing hardwood flooring. A moisture barrier can solve the issue. Apart from that, if the concrete is plain and smooth, you can achieve a uniform and flat hardwood flooring. Actually, following the right way of installation can help you get stunning hardwood flooring on concrete. Ask for the manufacturer’s recommendation for the best result.
Do You Need An Underlay To Install Hardwood Flooring On Concrete?
Note that it is absolutely not mandatory to install an underlayment to put hardwood flooring on concrete. However, for extra protection and in a high humid area, you may consider installing a plywood subfloor.
If the concrete floor is leveled properly and is strong enough, investing in an underlayment makes no sense. Even if you don’t want to glue them on the concrete, you can create a floating floor.
You may think of having a plywood subfloor only if you need any extra protection. Otherwise, an extra subfloor is not necessary when the concrete is stable and solid.
Can You Glue Hardwood Flooring On Concrete?
Fortunately, you can install hardwood flooring on concrete in any process you prefer examining a few factors. Now if the concrete base is solid and uniform, you can glue the flooring on concrete.
A flexible hardwood flooring adhesive can be used for gluing hardwood flooring on concrete. This adhesive allows free expansion and shrinking without affecting the hardwood planks.
So even if moisture arrives, it won’t affect the hardwood flooring much. However, before gluing, you have to put on a moisture barrier on the concrete.
Which Hardwood Type Is Best On Concrete?
While you can select almost any type of hardwood for installing on the concrete, not all can cope with the moisture content. This is why engineered hardwood is preferred the most on concrete subfloors.
Engineered hardwood installed in a floating method works the best on concrete. This is because the floating floor remains sort of detached from the concrete. So the moisture can’t directly hamper the floor.
Besides that, engineered hardwood is strong and relatively more moisture-resistant than other hardwoods. The particleboard protects the solid wood layer from moisture. Therefore, it lasts for a long time on the concrete.
Can You Put Engineered Hardwood Over Concrete?
Yes, you can put engineered hardwood over concrete. In fact, engineered hardwood is popularly installed on concrete bases.
Engineered hardwood flooring can be glued to the concrete subfloor. Using a urethane adhesive would be the best to install engineered hardwood on concrete. It is one of the most preferred options as it has excellent moisture resistance.
So even if moisture goes up through the concrete, the engineered won’t be affected much. However, you should put a moisture barrier even if it is engineered hardwood.
How Do You Install Floating Hardwood Floors On Concrete?
Installing a floating floor on the concrete is the easiest installation method. It takes less time than nailing or gluing hardwood planks on concrete. In fact, a little bump or a few uneven surfaces won’t affect a floating floor.
To create a floating floor on the concrete, you have to click and lock the planks together or glue the planks. So the planks are not directly nailed or attached to the concrete. Instead, the planks are attached to each other to create a floating layer on top of the concrete.
Keep linking one plank to the other starting from the furthest side of the room towards the doorways. That is how you install floating hardwood on concrete.
How Do You Install Hardwood Floors On A Concrete Porch?
Installing hardwood flooring on concrete porches and patios is becoming popular day by day. Porches look excellent with hardwood flooring and when easy installation methods are there, anyone would love to choose the option.
With wood connectors, you can install hardwood flooring on concrete porches. You can even get ready-made hardwood boards that can be fixed on connectors. Besides, you can choose to glue or nail the hardwood planks or boards on the concrete porch. But make sure to leave some space between the planks for ventilation so that the moisture can evaporate.
How Much Does It Cost To Install Hardwood Flooring On Concrete?
The cost of installation and hardwood flooring would vary depending on the wood, installation method, concrete quality, etc.
But the average cost of installing hardwood flooring on concrete would fluctuate between $120 to $160 per square meter of area. This cost includes the material as well as the labor cost. The material may cost between $80 to $110 while the labor cost can be $40 to $50 for installing per square meter of hardwood flooring on concrete.
By now, readers having a concrete base at home should understand that they can get stunning hardwood flooring. Note down the precautions and considerations, examine the concrete, and install hardwood flooring on concrete today.