How to install engineered wood flooring on concrete

Updated February 21, 2017

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.

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

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

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).

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

Apply duct tape to the full length of the seams.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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


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.

Things You'll 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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About the Author

Josh surprisingly found himself as an English Literature major one day after planning on becoming a doctor for most of his life. He graduated with a BS from Utah Valley University in April 2003.