How to install engineered wood flooring on concrete

Written by josh nuttall
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How to install engineered wood flooring on concrete
Engineered wood flooring (

Hardwood flooring can add a traditional and timeless elegance to any home. The problem is that hardwood flooring can only be installed above grade. This presents a problem if you want the hardwood look in your basement over a concrete floor. The solution: engineered wood flooring. Engineered wood flooring is a floor covering in which each plank is assembled in multiple layers, the top layer being composed of a specific, natural hardwood. The laminating process involved in the production of engineered wood flooring creates a more stable floor covering that can be installed in almost any area of the home.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 6 mil. polyfilm and foam underlayment, or 3-in-1 foam underlayment
  • Poly or duct tape
  • Expansion spacers
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Pull bar
  • Tapping block
  • Carpenter's square
  • Circular or mitre saw with a fine-toothed blade
  • Titebond wood glue (optional)

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    Concrete Floor Preparation

  1. 1

    Make sure the concrete subfloor is level to a slope of no more than 3/16 inch over a 10-foot span.

  2. 2

    Clean the floor so it is free of dirt and debris.

  3. 3

    Lay 6 mil. polyfilm or 3-in-1 foam underlayment over the concrete floor so the edges overlap each other by 8 inches for concrete subfloors that are either at grade (level with the ground) or below grade (in the basement).

  4. 4

    Run the polyfilm or foam underlayment 4 inches up the perimeter wall.

  5. 5

    Apply duct tape to the full length of the seams.

    Engineered Wood Flooring Installation

  1. 1

    Place the first row of planks along one wall with a 1/4-inch expansion joint spacer against the wall every 12 inches and the tongue side of the plank facing out towards the room.

  2. 2

    Apply Titebond wood glue to the upper groove of subsequent planks. Wipe glue away from the surface immediately. Do not apply glue to the tongue side. Use a tapping block and a hammer to tighten the side joints together. Use a pull bar and a hammer to tighten the end joints together. Do not overtighten, as this could cause unnecessary stress on the joints.

  3. 3

    Cut planks with a circular or mitre saw with a fine-toothed blade. Using coarse-cutting blades to cut planks will cause the wood to splinter and crack. Mark the cuts with a pencil and a carpenter's square. Start every second row with a cut-off plank that alternates 1/3 to 2/3 of the length of a full plank. Use the following pattern when installing the flooring: Full plank - 2/3 plank - Full plank - 1/3 plank - Full plank - 2/3 plank - etc.

  4. 4

    Remove the expansion spacers from the perimeter when the whole floor surface is installed. Remove the extra 6 mil. polyfilm or foam underlayment running up the walls, and install mouldings over the expansion joins to cover them.

  5. 5

    Do not walk on the floor for 24 hours to allow the glued joints to dry.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a wood putty of the same or similar colour to fill in any gaps of cracks that are not closed up during installation.
  • Clean your engineered wood flooring regularly by using a cleaner specifically formulated for hardwood and/or engineered wood flooring.
  • Follow all maintenance requirements specified by the flooring manufacturer to maintain warranty coverage.
  • Wipe away fresh glue immediately if it gets on the surface of the planks.

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