Hardwood Flooring: A Timeless and Elegant Choice for Your Home

By Cezar

Learning how to install hardwood floors is like starting a big project. It’s a classic choice that not only enhances the aesthetic of your home but also boosts its value. Whether it’s your first time laying down floors or you’re a seasoned DIYer, understanding the nuances of hardwood installation is key.

Choosing the Right Hardwood Flooring

— Species and Appearance

The first step in how to install hardwood floors is choosing the right type of wood. This choice sets the tone (quite literally) for your entire room. Oak, maple, cherry, and walnut each have their own unique characteristics and visual appeal. Oak is robust and forgiving, ideal for high-traffic areas, while cherry offers rich colours but requires a gentler touch. Consider the overall style you’re aiming for and how the wood will complement the existing decor.

— Hardness and Durability

Hardwood floors are not just about looks; they need to stand the test of time and toddlers. The Janka Hardness Scale is your go-to reference here. If your household resembles a playground, harder woods like maple and oak are your best bets, as they can withstand heavy foot traffic and resist dents and scratches better than softer species.

Prefinished vs. Unfinished

Prefinished hardwood floors are like buying a car straight from the showroom—ready to go and hassle-free. The factory-applied finish ensures a consistent, high-quality look, and installation is typically quicker. Unfinished floors, however, are for those who like to spray paint their cars and tweak the engine themselves. It’s all about personal preference and the specific needs of your space. Unfinished floors allow for custom staining and finishing, but the process is more time-consuming.

— Subfloor Preparation

A flawless how-to-install hardwood floors experience starts with a solid subfloor. Make sure it’s clean and even. This base will support your hardwood in every step of its lifecycle, preventing issues like warping and creaking. If the subfloor is uneven, you may need to level it with a self-leveling compound or other appropriate materials.

— Acclimation

Wood needs time to adjust to the climate of its new home. Skipping this step is like skipping leg day at the gym—you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Allow the wood to acclimate for at least 72 hours, as directed by the manufacturer, to prevent future issues like gapping, cupping, or buckling.

Choosing the Right Hardwood Flooring

— Moisture Testing

Before you jump into how to install hardwood floors, check the moisture levels of the wood and the subfloor. Think of it as checking the weather before a picnic. It ensures you don’t end up with a soggy sandwich—or in this case, a warped floor. Use a moisture meter to ensure the wood and subfloor are within the recommended moisture content range, typically between 6-9%.

Installing Hardwood Flooring

— Layout and Marking

Make a practical plan before you start. The layout should be strategic; envision how each piece fits together like a puzzle. This foresight will pay off with a seamless finish. Measure the room and create a plan for the direction and pattern of the boards, considering factors like the room’s shape and the location of any permanent fixtures.

— Expansion Gaps

These are not optional! Wood expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity. Leaving about a 1/2 inch around the edges gives the wood room to breathe and move without causing damage, such as buckling or cracking.

— Laying the First Rows

The first few rows are crucial—they set the stage for the rest. Get these right, and the rest of your installation should be smooth sailing. Ensure the first rows are perfectly straight and level, as this will dictate the alignment of the entire floor.

Refinishing and Repairing Hardwood Floors

— Refinishing

Over time, even the best floors need a facelift. Refinishing helps refresh and rejuvenate your floor. This step is crucial for maintaining the longevity and beauty of your hardwood. The process involves sanding down the existing finish, staining if desired, and applying a new protective topcoat.

— Repair

Life happens, and so do scratches and dents. When they do, knowing how to patch up your floor can save you from bigger headaches down the road. Each repair restores harmony in your home. Small scratches can be filled with wood putty, while deeper gouges may require replacing individual boards.
Refinishing and Repairing Hardwood Floors

For more complex refinishing or repair projects, it’s often best to consult with professional flooring experts. They have the specialized tools, skills, and experience to ensure a high-quality, long-lasting result. Working with professionals can also save time and minimize the risk of costly DIY mistakes.

Maintaining and Caring for Hardwood Floors

To keep your floors looking as good as new, treat them with kindness. Regular cleaning with the right tools and products will protect your investment and keep your floors ready for whatever life throws at them. Use a microfiber mop and a pH-neutral cleaner specifically formulated for hardwood floors, and avoid excessive water or harsh chemicals that can damage the finish.


Knowing how to install hardwood floors is about more than just following instructions; it’s about creating a foundation that will support every moment lived atop it. With the right preparation and knowledge, you can install a floor that’s not just made of wood but of potential. Whether you’re walking, dancing, or crawling across them, well-installed hardwood floors make every step count.