I have a million funny stories about flooring guys – too many to fit into this article in fact. It certainly doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put down an engineered, floating or laminate wood floor. Most of the flooring guys I’ve dealt with in the past can barely write their name, are drunk by noon and have just as many bad tattoos of old girlfriends names on their chest as they have front teeth. So if you’re deciding to do your own engineered wood floor; don’t fret about it being too difficult. Just about anyone can walk their way through the project without running into too many snags. So kick back to some good-ole-boy hillbilly music, open a beer as soon as you wake up and use these tips and techniques for installing your own engineered wood floor.
Bring in the Materials
At least one to two weeks before you start laying the wood floor down, bring in the materials to let them acclimate to your home’s natural environment. Leave the materials in their packages and stack them in a corner out of the way. This way, you can be sure that you no warping, bending or gapping occurs after you install the floor.
Prep the Room
Get your move on and take out all of the stuff you have piled up on the floor. Clothes, furniture and beds all have to go out of the area if it’s possible. If you have too much junk to move, you can pile up some of your junk on the far corner of the room. Finish the flooring up halfway, move the furniture onto the new half of the floor, and then go to town on the other half. This does not work when you’re gluing down the floor. It’s best to just bite the bullet and move it all out.
Remove the old carpet, padding and carpet tacks; then vacuum the space. If you have linoleum or tile, you’ll just need to clean up really good before you install the padding.
Installing the Padding
This foam, plastic looking padding isn’t much to look at, but it needs to be installed right. Start on the longest and straightest wall first and roll out a piece of foam the length of the wall. You’ll want to keep it off each wall about ¼” to ½” to allow for movement. That’s why they call it a floating floor! Attach the next rolled out strip of padding using the first piece of padding as a guide. It’s just like coloring inside the lines! Do this until you fill the room with padding. Don’t overlap any pieces of foam and keep your ¼” gap consistent for the perfect foam padding job.
Setting the Floor
Now comes the easy part. Start breaking out the flooring and snapping the ends together to create a row against the longest and straightest wall first. When you get to the end; cut the flooring using a miter saw. Save the cut off to start the next piece. Be sure to keep the flooring off of the baseboard/wall a minimum of ¼” by using a few well-placed shims. Adjust the shims so that the measurement all the way across the room remains consistent with the flooring seams.
Use the cutoff piece to start the next row (only when the cutoff is long enough) and snap them in place according the manufacturers specs. If the cutoff is only an inch or two long, you’ll probably want to grab another piece to work with. Once you get to the end, make the cut again. You can even flip the piece over and make a quick mark. You don’t even need to know how to read a tape measure to make these kinds of cuts!
Once you make it to the other side, it’s all cake and ice cream from here on out. Make a rip cut with a table saw (if you need to) when you get to your last row against the opposite wall. Use a pry bar and a wood shim against the baseboard to snap the last piece of engineered flooring in place.
Cover the ¼” gap around the room by attaching some quarter round molding to the baseboard tight against the floor using a few small finish nails or brads, ideally with a nail gun. This covers the gap, allows the floor to still move and makes a smooth transition between the dips in your floor and the baseboard. Enjoy!