When it comes to installing hardwood floors, you probably have a lot of questions: Can I DIY it? Which hardwood do I use? How long will it last? Will it stand up to the elements of my area (a common question in Oregon)? Well, we’re here to help! Below you’ll find some beginner information on installing hardwood floors in order to help you decide if they’re right for you.
Should you install hardwood floors yourself?
You can certainly save money installing your own hardwood floor, but you’ll want to factor in the time it will take, your experience level with household improvement, and the physical intensity of the task. Installing hardwood floors is extremely hard on the back, so if you have trouble lifting things or bending over for long periods of time, it makes sense to call in the professionals.
Unless you are very experienced with woodwork and home improvement, you should not attempt a solid hardwood installation using nails or cleats. If you are determined to install your floor yourself, engineered wood will be easier to work with since it can more easily be glued down or installed as a free-floating floor in which the boards are attached to one another but not affixed to the padding beneath.
Engineered wood floors are more forgiving of changes in humidity that can cause hardwood to buckle and pull apart. So if you’re installing hardwood floors in the Oregon area, engineered wood might be a better option for you! However, depending on the thickness of the veneer, you may only be able to refinish your engineered wood floor two or three times, or not at all since the sanding required takes off a layer of the hardwood. A thin veneer will be worn down over time to the synthetic base.
Having a hardwood floor installed could easily cost several thousand dollars, but it will be well worth it since it will improve the look of your home for decades.
If one of your priorities is environmental health, hardwood offers many advantages. Many domestic hardwoods, and some exotics, are renewable resources, and many earth-friendly hardwood suppliers will be happy to inform you of which ones represent the least negative impact on reforestation efforts.
Hardwood floors can also be made from reclaimed wood originally used in old buildings or ships. In terms of indoor air quality, hardwood is far superior to carpet which is often full of sneeze-inducing things like mold, pet dander, and dust, as well as chemical fumes from the carpet materials and glue.
Unfortunately, many engineered wood materials contain bonding agents that can also be toxic. So can some methods of solid hardwood pre-treating. Just be sure when you purchase your flooring material that you specify your need for low- or no-toxic finishes and materials. Try to avoid volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which are especially bad for air quality in your home and in the outside world.
Happily Ever After
Your beautiful new floor can last a lifetime as long as you follow a few simple rules of upkeep. Use only cleaning products and methods specifically recommended for your hardwood finish, which your supplier or installer should be able to explain to you. Cover high traffic lanes with area rugs, and vacuum up any grit that gets tracked onto your hardwood with a soft floor attachment as soon as possible.
Beware of high heels, golf or soccer cleats, and pet nails, which can pock your floor. You will probably be able to repair small gouges and scratches yourself with materials from the hardware store, and once in awhile you will have to refinish the entire surface of your floor to renew its lovely and consistent surface.